Although premiums, policies and prices vary widely, the mandate does not. Automobile insurance is an unavoidable expense of driving. Ideally, you will never have use for your auto insurance. In the event that you do; however, you will considerably improve your satisfaction with the claims process by doing thorough research before policy inception.
Begin with an understanding of auto insurance terms:
This coverage offsets costs related to the bodily harm and property damage of the other driver(s) when you are at fault in an accident. Insurance companies impose limits on the amounts that they will pay to the victim(s), and for each accident. Your premium amount is determined, in part, by the limits you select. Higher potential payouts by your insurance carrier translate to higher insurance premiums for you, the consumer.
In the event that you have an accident, your medical expenses and property damage will be covered if you select collision protection as a part of your plan (again, there are limits).
This category covers costs related to damage, theft, vandalism, etc. For example: if someone breaks your car window, you would access your collision coverage to repair the damages. Again, higher payouts mean higher premiums. If cost is a concern, increase your deductible to decrease your premium. The deductible is the amount, usually between $250.00 and $1,000.00; you pay toward accident/theft related expenses before the insurance company contributes.
Although automobile insurance is legally required, some drivers do not comply. If you have an accident with such a driver this coverage will provide some compensation for medical expenses.
Auto insurance can be quite costly, but it is far more expensive to forgo. Many states arrest and/or fine drivers found to be uninsured. Additionally, accidents, theft and damage can create financial chaos for uninsured/underinsured motorists.
When choosing an insurance carrier, make sure that you have chosen a reputable firm that is accessible, responsive and financially solvent. The coverage is of no use to you if you can reach no one to file a claim, or if there is no money to pay it. Check with agencies such as Standard & Poor's and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners to get the information you might not get from a slick brochure or salesperson hoping to close a deal.
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