You depend on your car for many things: getting to work, the grocery store, soccer practice, vacation. In order for most aspects of your life to function easily and efficiently, you need your car to operate just as efficiently. A car insurance policy that covers it against virtually any kind of mishap ensures you'll be able to get where you need to be. And you don't have to pay a lot for that kind of coverage–if you do your homework.
Defining Full Coverage Auto Insurance
A company advertising full coverage auto insurance is being slightly disingenuous; there's actually no policy that can be defined as "full," since the upper limits on, say, liability coverage, can differ from company to company. Full coverage auto insurance usually means your car is protected from physical damage and from liability. For physical damage, you need two types of coverage: collision insurance will protect you from damages caused by direct impact, like an accident; comprehensive insurance includes damage such as broken glass, or caused by theft and vandalism. The liability aspect protects you from damages you cause to other cars and/or drivers. This can include bodily injury liability, property damage liability, and other coverage.
The State Says Buy
The liability part of your policy under full coverage auto insurance is determined largely by the state. In order to be "fully" covered, you have to purchase a minimum amount of liability insurance as defined by state law. This differs state to state. In Alabama, every driver must buy bodily injury liability of at least $25,000 per person and $50,000 total per accident, as well as $25,000 in property damage liability. Other states also require coverage for uninsured/underinsured drivers; Oregon, for example, requires a minimum bodily injury policy of $25,000/$50,000 for uninsured/underinsured drivers. Some state laws call for proof of "financial responsibility," but a car insurance policy is usually the easiest and most affordable way to show such proof.
How Much Coverage to Buy
Aside from state laws, the amount of coverage you need is a personal choice. For a brand-new car, you'll probably want a policy with extensive collision and comprehensive coverage. You expect to drive this car for a while, so you want it fully protected. And if you are going to re-sell someday, it's important the little detailspaint job, bumpersare in good shape for the buyer. A comprehensive policy will cover, for example, a crack in your windshield caused when a flatbed truck driving on the interstate in front of you kicks up a rock. For a used car, you may have gotten a great deal on a car, and want to cover physical damage to maintain its condition. For a car with a few scratches and dings, you'll probably want less collision coverage, and may want to skip comprehensive altogether. Or, you may want to purchase these coverages for a couple years, at which point you decide your car's value has fallen too low to warrant the premium you're paying, so you might decide to lower or eliminate collision/comprehensive coverage and begin shopping for a new policy.
More Coverage for Less
If you want full coverage auto insurance, think about ways to save on your policy before you start searching. High school and college students may be eligible for good student discounts. Placing multiple drivers on a single policy often saves hundreds of dollars per driver. Or you might choose a higher deductible, which will lower your annual premium. Someone with an older car, for example, may raise his deductible by $250, knowing that he won't file a claim for something like a scratch in the hood (and thus, will encounter fewer times he has to pay that deductible). To save money, all you have to do is try. This means, in part, asking about potential discounts. It also means that, once you decide how much coverage you want, you compare as many quotes as you can find. Through an easy service like NetQuote.com, you can see what premiums companies are willing to offer for full coverage auto insurance and then take your pick. You'll get more, for less.
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