How to Identify the Coverage Types You Need
So now you know how much you should expect to pay for each type of coverage on your car insurance policy, it’s time to figure out which ones you actually need.
First up: liability coverage. Everyone needs bodily injury liability coverage and property damage liability coverage in case you’re in a car accident that’s your fault. Liability insurance pays for medical bills and repairs to people’s cars and property that you damage. It also covers lost wages if someone is too hurt to work and pays legal fees if you’re sued further.
How much liability insurance should you get? When choosing your liability coverage limits, think about how much you own in terms of assets. You should at least be insured for the value of those assets; otherwise, one car accident could wipe out all you have. If you have a low net worth, the state minimum could be sufficient.
In Florida, you’re not required to have bodily injury liability insurance—so given that you can’t expect to have your medical bills covered even if you’re hurt in a car accident and not at fault, you’ll want medical payments coverage, also called MedPay. Without deductibles or copays, MedPay helps cover treatment that your health insurance won’t cover.
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Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage
“Wait a second,” you’re saying. “What if the other guy doesn’t have any insurance, and it’s his fault?” Well, you better believe they have an insurance policy for just that situation. It’s called underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage. It’s really smart to make sure any auto insurance policy you buy has underinsured and/or uninsured motorist coverage.
Let’s say your lender says you need full coverage. That means that in addition to liability coverage, you need collision and comprehensive coverage. Collision coverage may pay for damage to your car and your body if you’re involved in a collision—even if it’s with an inanimate object, like a road sign—regardless of fault.
Comprehensive insurance reimburses damage from weather, vandalism, and other “acts of God'' that usually don’t occur while you’re driving. It will also cover you if your car is stolen. The majority of policyholders choose to carry full coverage, which is all three (liability, comprehensive, and collision).
For comprehensive coverage and collision coverage, you have to choose deductibles. These are usually $500 or $1,000, and while opting for a higher deductible can score you a lower insurance premium, it’s not always worth it.
For those of us lucky enough to have a high net worth, an umbrella policy can expand both your liability limits and policy limits on comprehensive coverage and collision insurance so that a car accident protects all of your assets, including an expensive or new car.
Towing and roadside assistance are great optional coverages if you live in a rural area or drive an old car that’s prone to breaking down.
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New car or lease? If you have a new vehicle and your outstanding loan payments are worth more than the actual cash value of the car itself, your lender will probably require you to purchase additional coverage called gap insurance. Then, if you suffer a total loss event, your gap insurance coverage pays the difference between your car’s value and the money you owe on it.
If you’re often driving a rental car, lots of auto insurance policies offer rental reimbursement—so look out for that if you travel often for business or like to rent cars for long trips or on vacation.
Not looking for this much commitment? Maybe you need temporary liability car insurance to drive someone’s car for a limited period of time since you’re not a car owner yourself and don’t have auto insurance to begin with. This is the only way to get an auto insurance policy that lasts shorter than six months.
Phew! Wow, that was a lot to cover! But hopefully, you’ve written down the types of coverage you know you need so you are prepared to select an insurance policy.