Auto insurance is an important, and, in most states, legally required protection for drivers. Auto insurance applies to vehicles such as cars, trucks, and motorcycles, but also applies to boats. It is primarily designed to protect motorists, but also protects individuals, such as pedestrians, who may be injured by an auto, or property owner’s whose property is damaged by an auto.
There are many different types of auto insurance, so I would like to give you a general overview of the available options. Fortunately, the different types of auto insurance can be easily broken down by the level of coverage that they provide. The levels range from the highest possible to the bare minimum required by law.
First of all, there are two basic categories of auto insurance: collision insurance and comprehensive insurance. Collision insurance covers damage to the vehicle if it is damaged in an accident. Comprehensive coverage offers more protection because it applies to a wider range of situations including theft of the automobile.
It is easiest to start with the minimum level, which is know as liability coverage. Liability insurance pays for injuries or damages sustained by other vehicles and people involved in an accident that is caused by the policyholder. For example, if the motorist causes an accident in which both party’s vehicles are damaged, liability coverage pays only for the damage to the vehicle of the driver who was not at fault in the accident, and not to the driver who was at fault.
Liability is required by law in many states because it also covers personal injury protection to people injured in accidents. Thus, it ensures that any person injured in an auto accident, through no fault of their own, is covered by the insurance of the responsible party.
Personal injury protection (PIP) and medical payments (MP) are not included in liability. However, the next level of insurance, collision insurance does covers these two expenses.
Personal Injury Protection covers the policyholder for time and medical expenses required for the maintenance of a vehicle. This covers lost wages should a person need to bring a vehicle to a mechanic and must miss work as a result.
Insurance can also cover medical payments, which refers to the cost of treatment if the policyholder is injured in an accident and the cost of that treatment exceeds the limits of personal injury protection.
Collision coverage includes the liability of the driver to other parties, personal injury protection, and medical payments. It also covers damage to the policyholder’s own vehicle in the event that it is damaged in an accident, regardless of whether the insured is at fault in the accident or not. Therefore, even in a single car accident, the policy of the driver covers the damage that his or her car incurs. In a two car accident, all damage is covered by the person found to be at fault in the accident.
If the policyholder’s vehicle is damaged so badly in an accident that it must be replaced, collision insurance will pay for the value of the damaged vehicle towards the purchase of a new one. However, collision insurance does not cover the theft of the vehicle, damage from a fire, or damage due to weather, such as hail.
Comprehensive coverage offers a higher level of protection for the policyholder. It covers liability, PIP, MP, and damage to the vehicle if it is involved in an accident. Comprehensive coverage will also pay for a new vehicle if the vehicle of the policyholder is stolen or damaged in a fire.
Although both collision and comprehensive coverage can protect the policyholder from the cost of vehicle replacement, it is not perfect. This is due to the fact that the value of vehicles depreciates over time. These types of insurance will only pay for the value of a totaled (destroyed) vehicle, regardless of the cost of the vehicle when new.
However, there is a third type of insurance that can protect the policyholder from this kind of depreciation. GAP insurance protects the consumer from the depreciation in value of a vehicle.
It is obvious that auto insurance is complex, and it is important to understand all of the available options before making a choice. Different states have varying requirements, so it is important to ask question not only about the type of coverage you are purchasing, but about the requirements of your state, as well. Remember, accidents are called accidents because they are not deliberate, and always come as a surprise. Make sure that you have the appropriate coverage for you and your family in advance, to protect against unforeseen events, such as accidents.