Automobile Insurance is considered to be a “necessary evil” by many folks who feel that they will never or rarely use it. That’s a really good thing because having an accident can mean that you might become injured with long recovery times or at the very least greatly inconvenienced by having to wait for your car to be repaired or replaced. Many folks tend to want to pay for the least amount of insurance that they have to and at the lowest price. Just be sure not to make these common auto insurance mistakes.
1. Assuming you need only minimum limits because “you don’t own anything.” Recent graduates starting their careers may not currently have a lot of assets to protect but they do have a lifetime of future wages. Judgments for damages caused to others can follow you and cause your wages to be garnished to satisfy them. The cost of higher limits can be extremely minimal. Be sure to evaluate the cost benefits of all your options.
2. Not matching your “Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist” liability limits with your “Bodily Injury” liability limits. The reason that you have liability insurance is to protect yourself by paying for the damage done to others if you cause an accident that is your fault. So what happens when the accident is someone else’s fault and they don’t have insurance or only have minimum limits? You should be protecting yourself with the same limits that you are protecting others.
3. You don’t have all of your personal policies with one company or one agency. Most companies offer significant discounts for you to have all of your policies with one company and in most cases, it makes a lot of sense to try to do that to take advantage of every discount you can qualify for. In the cases where that may not be possible, at the very least have all of your policies with one agency to be sure that you have no “gaps” in your coverage. If you have assets to protect, (a home, cars, personal belongings) you should have an umbrella policy that will give you liability coverage in excess of what is offered on the standard auto policy. A million dollars of coverage may cost less that $200 annually and can buy an awful lot of “peace of mind.” However, umbrella policies require certain limits be maintained on your auto and home policies in order to “seamlessly” payout. For this and many other reasons, you should have a professional agent manage your insurance program.
4. Assuming all contracts and insurance companies are alike. Insurance is basically a promise made by an insurance company to pay a loss in exchange for premium. Insurance companies have different financial ratings and reputations. Paying your premium doesn’t mean you are going to be satisfied with the handling of your loss. If you own a nice vehicle- lets say a BMW for example: unless you have specific coverage for “original equipment manufacturer” (OEM) parts, generally aftermarket parts will be used on your vehicle after a loss. This is not a bad thing. Many times the warranties and quality of these parts are the same or perhaps better than the original part but if you are concerned that new windshield has “BMW” stamped on it, you need to specifically have that coverage.
5. Assuming you don’t need “Medical Payments” coverage because you already have “great” medical insurance. What about all the other people in your car? Most contracts include any family member and any other person occupying your vehicle. It also usually covers funeral expenses and the coverage limit applies to each injured person. The limit can also “double” the amount if a seat belt was being worn. There is also no deductible unlike most health insurance.
Auto insurance is a very important part of your personal insurance program. Many considerations go into being properly covered. You don’t need to “over pay” for proper coverage but being with a great company, with great coverage that exactly fits your needs is what you should be striving for. Here’s hoping you never have to use it!