If you cause an auto accident, you need protection for the damage you might do to another person and that person's property. That's what auto liability insurance is all about.
If you're in an accident in which you're at fault, your property damage liability pays for the covered damage you've caused to the other car and provides you with legal defense if the other party files a lawsuit against you. Your bodily injury liability covers the costs associated with the covered injuries you may have caused to other people in that accident and also provides for a legal defense if you're sued.
If you're in an accident with another vehicle or object – or your vehicle overturns – your collision coverage will pay for the covered damage to your vehicle. The maximum amount you'd receive is the actual cash value of your vehicle minus the deductible you chose for this coverage.
If your car is stolen or is damaged by something other than collision, you'll want to have comprehensive coverage to help pay for the loss. The maximum amount you'd receive is the actual cash value of your vehicle minus the deductible you chose for this coverage.
The medical payments portion of your policy pays for covered medical expenses up to policy limits for this coverage for anyone injured in your vehicle – regardless of who's at fault. It also covers you and your family members who might be involved in an accident as a pedestrian.
Coverages vary by state. In some states, medical payments are covered under personal injury protection (PIP), also known as no-fault insurance.
It's scary to realize that some drivers on the road have no insurance or have insufficient coverage. But when you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, you'll have protection even if you're in an accident with one of those drivers.
Personal injury protection – or PIP – is often referred to as no-fault insurance because covered claims are paid regardless of who is at fault in an accident.
You may want to add one or more of the following coverage options. Please note that in some states, some of these coverages may already be included in your auto policy:
Gap insurance – or loan/lease insurance – can protect you if your vehicle is financed or leased. If your vehicle is totaled, this coverage may pay the difference between the actual cash value of the vehicle and the unpaid balance of the loan or lease.
Towing and labor pays for covered towing and labor costs if your vehicle is disabled, up to your policy limits.
Rental reimbursement or extended transportation expenses coverage can pay for a rental car if your car is damaged in a covered accident and your car is out of commission for more than 24 hours.
To create the auto insurance policy that's right for you, think about what you'd like covered, what you can afford to pay for that coverage and how much you can pay out of pocket if an accident occurs.
Your car insurance deductible is the amount you'll pay out of pocket before your insurance kicks in. The lower the deductible, the less you'll pay out of pocket if an accident occurs. Selecting a higher deductible may lower your auto insurance premium.
For example, if you choose a $1,000 deductible and have an accident causing $2,000 in damage, you would pay the first $1,000 of a covered loss before insurance kicks in.
Your car insurance coverage limits, also referred to as limit of liability, is the most your insurance will pay if you have a claim. Choosing a higher coverage amount provides you additional protection if an accident occurs.
The available coverage limits may vary by coverage type and state. It is important to choose limits that meet your needs.
You may want to consider additional liability coverage over and above the basic limits in your automobile policy. For example, if you're in a serious accident involving medical bills or litigation, umbrella insurance pays after you have used up the underlying auto insurance. Typical policies provide $1 million in additional coverage.