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  • Insurance for dummies
  • Getting discounts
  • General tips

The Basics of Buying Auto Insurance

If you own an automobile, you need to have insurance, as most states require some degree of coverage. However, what your state's financial responsibility law requires and what you actually need are quite different. The law is meant to provide a minimum level of protection for people injured or whose property is damaged by another driver and vehicle. Unfortunately, the minimum is generally not sufficient to fully protect most people and you should consider your real needs.

Understanding Your Auto Insurance Deductibles

If you have ever had full coverage on a vehicle then you may be familiar with the term ‘deductible.’ In short your deductible is the amount of money that you will have to cover in the event you are in an auto accident.

Tips for Finding and Taking Advantage of Discounts on Auto Insurance

Many auto insurance companies offer insurance discounts. However, not every consumer is aware of these discounts or remembers to ask about them. Being proactive as a car insurance consumer can save you a lot of money over the course of your policy. Generally, auto insurance discounts can be broken down into three categories:

  • Discounts Related to the Driver or Drivers

  • Discounts Related to the Policy

  • Discounts Related to the Vehicle

Often these discounts can be combined to save even more money.

Tip One: Driver-Related Car Insurance Discounts

Driver-related car insurance discounts can be significant. These usually include having a clean driving record, with no speeding tickets, traffic violations or accidents, as well as being what is considered a safe driver. There are also often auto insurance discounts for things like the driver being older and experienced, a college graduate, and a homeowner. Driver discounts vary from insurance company to insurance company.

Tip Two: Policy-Related Auto Insurance Discounts

There are many common types of policy-related auto insurance discounts. Chief among these are bundled discounts which involve multiple vehicles or multiple types of policies. If you are a renter or a homeowner, adding renters insurance or homeowners insurance through the same company that carries your car insurance usually gives a discount. There may also be discounts for paying in full rather than making monthly payments, setting-up an automatic electronic payment through your checking account, and for choosing paperless billing for your car insurance premiums.

Tip Three: Vehicle-Related Car Insurance Discounts

In addition to driver- and policy-related auto insurance discounts, many companies offer reduced rates related to the vehicle that is being insured. Security and safety elements for the vehicle, such as airbags, anti-lock brakes, vehicle recovery systems, and anti-theft devices may lower your car insurance premiums.

Making the Most of Auto Insurance Discounts

There are many auto insurance discounts available, and they can significantly decrease your premiums. When you are looking for car insurance, be sure to ask about discounts available and how to take advantage of each of them. Whether you are bundling your car insurance with other types of insurance, maintaining a safe driving record, or have a vehicle with excellent safety components, discounts are to your benefit and they will save you money on your auto insurance premiums.

Because different car insurance companies offer different types and amounts of discounts, it is best that you compare offers from a variety of insurance providers to make sure you are not just getting the best rates on the auto insurance you need, but that you are getting the discounts you deserve.

How Much Insurance is Enough?

Determining how much car insurance you need is an individual decision. While you may decide that the state-mandated auto insurance minimums are acceptable, the savvy vehicle owner understands that minimal insurance is not enough protection if one is involved in a collision that results in serious bodily injury or extensive and expensive damage to another vehicle, multiple vehicles, or property.

When determining how much auto insurance you need to purchase, you need to consider:

  • How much money you regularly have available that you can use to pay for injuries or vehicle damage beyond the maximum set by a car insurance policy

  • How many and which types of additional auto insurance options will provide you with the best protection

Once you have answered these questions, you are ready to start looking for the car insurance policy or policies that are not only affordable but which will give you the greatest amount of financial security.

Car Insurance: State-Mandated Minimums and Your Wallet

State-mandated car insurance minimums offer barebones insurance coverage to the policy holder. If you are in a car crash and there are multiple serious injuries, as well as vehicles severely damaged or destroyed, your minimal car insurance is not going to protect you very well. You may be found and held financially liable for long-term medical care expenses, costly vehicle repairs, or even replacement of a car. Carrying more than the minimum insurance saves your wallet and protects your assets.

Research Different Types of Car Insurance

There are many types of car insurance policies that go beyond the minimum coverage required. Most of these are affordable, have varying deductibles and will save you money if you need to make a claim.

Collision and Comprehensive Car Insurance

Collision insurance covers your car repairs or replacement following an accident. Comprehensive auto insurance is used for damages to your vehicle in the event of vandalism, theft or a natural disaster.

Underinsured and Uninsured Motorist Policies

Some states require purchasing this, but not all. If you are injured in an accident involving another driver, who does not have enough insurance to cover your injuries or who is breaking the law and driving without insurance, an underinsured and uninsured motorist policy will cover you and your family.

Deciding on How Much Car Insurance You Need

Everyone has different car insurance needs. Factors may vary including, how much can one afford each month, the number and price of assets that need to be protected and the value of the vehicle. Generally speaking, purchasing more insurance is better than less and more coverage with a slightly higher deductible is a good trade-off. Be sure to compare auto insurance quotes for different insurance types, investigate available policy discounts and make the decision that works best for you and your car insurance needs.

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