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Consider your financial or personal situation (marriage, parenthood, home-buying, etc.) to
determine appropriate liability limits, which protect you if you are ever sued. Your financial
assets and family members who depend on you need protecting, so generally speaking, the more you
have to lose, the more protection you will want.
Review optional types of coverage to evaluate whether or not you may need extra protection.
For example, if you don't have disability insurance, you might want loss of best income coverage.
Think about value. The best insurance may not be the cheapest. Standard industry financial
ratings assigned to insurance companies will help you evaluate a company's financial strength
(their ability to pay claims). For information about consumer complaints against companies,
look at state insurance department Web sites.
Credit history - Some states may use your credit as a factor in determining your
best rates. If you have excellent credit, you might pay less.
What should I do if I have an accident?
First, check to see if anyone needs medical attention. Next, call the police. They will
tell you whether you should move the autos, and whether an officer will come take
statements from those involved. Try to stay calm. If a police officer questions you,
be factual. It is not up to you to talk about whose fault it is. The police and insurance
companies will decide that. If law enforcement is not involved, exchange names,
addresses, phone numbers and insurance company names with each driver.
Try also to get contact information for any witnesses. Contact your insurance
company or insurance agent as soon as possible to learn about conditions or
procedures you need to follow
Will my insurance cover my leased auto if it is stolen or totaled in an accident?
Your insurance company will handle your claims the same way whether you own, lease or
finance. If you leased or financed your auto and purchased it recently, your insurance
may not cover your loan or lease completely. Since you are responsible for the auto,
the leasing company will require you to pay the remaining lease payments as well as
any penalties for mileage, wear and tear, or warranties, and you won't get your
security deposit back. Review your lease or loan agreement to decide whether
to purchase GAP insurance, which covers the difference between your loan or
lease and the insurance proceeds you receive for your damaged or stolen auto.
My daughter will be going to college in another state, and taking her car with her.
Do we need to change her insurance?
If the car is registered to you, and she is not considered a resident of the state
where she is attending school, she can be covered on your policy. Check with the
State Department of Motor Vehicles to determine whether the car needs to be registered
in that state, and your insurance changed accordingly.
Auto insurance Glossary
Additional Insured or Additional Interest.
A person or an organization, other than the named insured or covered person, who is
protected under the named insured's auto policy. If an auto is leased, the leasing company may want to be listed as an Additional Insured as well as a lien holder or loss payee. This protects the leasing company if it's named in a lawsuit for an accident caused by a policyholder.
Devices designed either to reduce the chance an auto will be vandalized or stolen, or assist in its recovery. Examples include car alarms, keyless entry, starter disablers, motion detectors, parts of the vehicle etched with the Vehicle Identification Number, and recovery systems.
A risk not ordinarily acceptable to insurers which is, according to state law, assigned to insurers participating in a plan in which the insurers agree to accept their share of these risks.
A form of insurance that protects against losses involving autos. Different types are available depending on the needs and wants of those buying policies. Examples of coverage types include: bodily injury liability, property damage liability, medical payments, and collision and comprehensive coverage for physical damage to the insured's vehicle.
Automobile Insurance Plans.
The name for "assigned risk" plans. These are plans set up and monitored by the state to help people who are unable to secure auto insurance through standard insurance carriers. See Assigned Risk.
Basic Limits of Liability.
The least amount of liability coverage that can be purchased, which is generally equivalent to the minimum amount required by state law. In determining rates, a carrier will use the basic limits to develop the base rates. If an insured person wants higher limits, the carrier applies an increased limits factor to the base rate in calculating the new premium for the increased coverage.
Covers damage to a vehicle caused by an event other than a collision or overturn. Examples include fire, theft, vandalism, and falling objects.
Customized Equipment/Special Equipment.
Items not included in standard insurance options available for cars. These may include extra electronic equipment, special paint or exterior items, or amenities added to the inside of a van or truck.
Defensive Driver Course.
These are classes either offered through or approved by Departments of Motor Vehicles to enhance driving skills. These courses may make drivers eligible for discounts on their premiums. Courses taken for traffic school because of a moving violation are not eligible.
Optional coverage that broadens the definition of a covered auto to include non-owned vehicles the insured person operates.
Extended Non-Owner Liability.
An endorsement that provides broader liability coverage for specifically named people operating any non-owned automobile or trailer. It covers non-owned autos, use of autos to carry people or property for a fee, and individuals driving employer-furnished cars who do not own vehicles themselves.
Family Automobile Policy.
Now replaced by the Personal Auto Policy, the Family Auto Policy was a package policy in which both liability and physical damage protection to an insured's vehicle was offered under one policy.
Financial responsibility laws require owners and operators of autos to maintain enough money to compensate those they injure. Liability insurance is the most common way to satisfy these requirements.
Good Student Discount.
A premium discount for students with high scholastic grades. Some statistical research has shown a relationship between good grades and safe driving.
An identification card issued by your insurance company that provides evidence of liability insurance. Such evidence is required in most states.
Loss Payee/Lien holder.
A person or entity with a legally secured insurable interest in another's property, usually a financial institution that loaned money to buy a car. The car is the loan collateral. If the auto is damaged in an accident, loss payments will be made to you and to the loss payee on your policy.
A discount offered by some insurance companies for those with more than one vehicle insured on the same policy. In some cases, if you drive a company car insured by your company, your own insurance company may give you the multi-car discount.
MVR - Motor Vehicle Record.
A motor vehicle record, also referred to as DL printout, or MVR, contains information obtained from an individual's driver license application, abstracts of convictions and accidents.
Many states have enacted auto accident compensation laws permitting auto accident victims to collect directly from their own insurance companies for medical and hospital expenses regardless of who was at fault in the accident. Although there are many legal variations of no-fault insurance, most states still allow people to sue the negligent party if the amount of damages exceeds a certain state-determined threshold. (see "Threshold Level.")
Personal Injury Protection.
The name usually given to no-fault benefits in states that have enacted mandatory or optional no-fault auto insurance laws. Personal Injury Protection (PIP) usually includes benefits for medical expenses, loss of income from work, essential services, accidental death, funeral expenses, and survivor benefits.
One who maintains ownership in an insurance policy. This may refer to the policy owner or those covered under the policy. See also Named Insured.
Property Damage Liability Insurance.
Protection against liability for damage to another's tangible property, including loss of use. Although this coverage is different than liability for bodily injury to another person, Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability protection are generally written together.
The length of time for which a policy or bond is in force.
Uninsured motorists bodily injury coverage (which must be offered in most states) pays for a covered person's bodily injuries of which an uninsured or hit-and-run motorist is legally liable, but unable to pay.
Unsatisfied Judgment Fund.
Some states have established laws to reimburse those injured in auto accidents that have been unable to collect from the responsible party.
VIN Vehicle Identification Number.
A Vehicle Identification Number is a 17-digit alpha-numeric code that provides valuable information concerning the vehicle's serial number, make, model, options, and year in official records (like a Social Security number for your car).
Waiver of Collision Deductible.
This option pays your collision deductible when you carry collision coverage on a vehicle that is damaged by an uninsured or hit-and-run motorist who is at fault. Coverage applies only when there is actual physical contact and when you can identify the uninsured driver or vehicle.