Auto Insurance FAQs

Answers to common questions about your auto insurance policy

What factors may affect my auto insurance costs?

How can I lower my auto insurance rates?

What discounts are available?

Ask your agent for the following discounts if you

Why does my insurance go up if I have an accident or get a ticket?

When you get a ticket or have an accident you become a higher risk. Statistically, the chance of having an another accident increases proportionately to how many tickets and accidents a driver has already had, so insurance companies adjust their rates to accurately reflect the increased exposure to future claims based on this higher risk.

When I rent a car, what does my auto insurance policy cover?

Check your policy or ask your insurance agent. Your policy may specify rentals only for pleasure, like vacations or special events, but not business. Make sure you understand exactly how much your policy covers. Limitations may cover repair, but not losses incurred while the rental is being repaired. The policy limits may or may not cover replacement if the car is totaled. If you carry only liability, you may not have rental car coverage at all.

If in doubt, buy the rental coverage. It´s much cheaper than discovering after the fact that you don´t have adequate coverage.

I have Property Damage and Physical Damage coverage. Aren´t these the same?

Property damage coverage, which is usually required, protects and covers damage you cause to someone else´s property. There is no deductible for this.

Physical damage (also called comprehensive and collision) is usually optional. Collision covers damage to your car if you collide with another automobile or object. Comprehensive covers damage from fire, theft, vandalism, weather, windshield, or animal-related accidents. Both typically have separate deductibles.

If a friend drives my car, is he or she covered under my insurance?

Other drivers who your permission to use your auto are frequently covered. To make sure, check your policy or ask your agent. Find out if there are limitations regarding your policy and how they apply to other drivers.

What should I do if I have an accident?

  1. Check to see if anyone needs medical attention.
  2. Call the police. They will tell you whether you should move the autos, and whether an officer will come take statements from those involved.
  3. 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 decide that.
  4. 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.
  5. Contact your insurance company or insurance agent as soon as possible to learn about conditions or procedures you need to follow.

I have an older car whose current value is very low; do I need insurance?

In most states you´re legally required to carry a specified amount of bodily injury and property damage coverage. Even if it´s not required, it´s a good thing to do.

Comprehensive and collision insurance is not required by the state, but may be required if the vehicle is financed or leased.

Consider what would happen if the car was stolen or seriously damaged in an accident:

My job requires that I move to another state temporarily. Will my insurance cover me there?

If you expect to stay longer than 30 days, it´s a good idea to change your insurance. Though your policy covers you anywhere in the U.S., there may be differences from state to state. Significant differences can be minimum limits; one state has $15,000/30,000 and another has $50,000/100,000, for example. There may be other differences too. Find out what those differences are. In most cases, only military personnel are allowed to reside in one state and maintain residency in another. If you are planning to register your auto in another state, you will need to purchase insurance in that state.

Will my insurance cover my leased auto if it is stolen or totaled in an accident?

The leasing company will require you to pay the remaining lease payments as well as any penalties for mileage, wear and tear, or warranties. You also won´t get your security deposit back. To decide whether to purchase GAP (the difference or gap between the market value of your vehicle and what you still owe on it); review your lease or loan agreement, which covers the difference between your loan or lease and the insurance proceeds you receive for your damaged or stolen auto.

My son has his learner´s permit and is starting to drive. I want to add him to my policy but it will triple the premium! Do I have to add him?

Most companies don´t charge for a person with a learner´s permit or require that the learner be named on a policy (but some do). However, once your son gets his permanent license, he must be covered under your auto insurance, unless he won´t be driving. Newly licensed drivers are involved in more accidents than more experienced drivers, so their rates are considerably higher. For his protection, and for the protection of your financial assets, you may want to review your insurance limits and coverage. Your son´s premiums can be kept lower if he maintains at least a B average in school, keeps deductibles high, and if he drives an older, standard model car (rather than a sports or luxury car).

I plan to buy a new car. Do I need coverage for this car before I drive it off the lot?

Your new car must be insured before you drive it off the lot. If you have a policy in force, the new car will be automatically covered for 30 days. However, if you cover a new car under an existing policy without notifying your insurance company, some companies may change some of your coverage limits until they have received notice from you about the new car, and decided they want to insure it. When you buy a car, new or used, is a good time to review your coverage and check prices among competing companies. Start by getting quotes for the year, make and model of the car you plan to buy. If you´re considering more than one make and model, checking the price of insurance may help you decide. Although two cars may seem the same, the repair costs may be dramatically different, and that will have a significant impact on your insurance costs. And, if you are financing the car, you will be required to purchase comprehensive and collision coverage by your lender or leasing company.

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.

Information from Coverage For My Car .

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