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Auto insurance is one of the most used types of personal insurance. Most states require that you purchase some kind of insurance coverage to drive legally in the state. Auto insurance can be divided into two basic coverage areas: liability and property damage.
Two factors determine what you pay for auto insurance. The first factor is underwriting, where insurance companies assess the risk associated with an applicant. The second factor is rating; the rating assigns a price based on what the insurer believes it will cost to assume the financial responsibility for the applicant’s potential claim.
Most auto insurance policies contain three major parts: liability insurance for bodily injury, liability insurance for property damage and uninsured/under-insured motorists coverage.
Bodily injury liability insurance protects you against the claims of other people who are injured in an accident for which you were at fault. Their claims for bodily injury may include medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Property damage liability insurance pays for any damage you cause to the property of others. This includes not only damages to other vehicles, but also other property such as walls, fences and equipment. Uninsured motorists coverage protects the policy holder directly. This coverage pays if you are injured by a hit-and-run driver or a driver who does not have auto insurance.
Property Damage Coverage may include both collision coverage and comprehensive coverage.
Collision coverage pays for physical damage to your car as the result of your auto colliding with an object, such as a tree or another car. This coverage is optional and not required by law. However, collision insurance may be required by your lending institution or lessor. In the case of an accident involving an older car, the cost of repairing the car can quickly exceed the worth of the car. In this case, insurers will “total” the car and pay you what the car was worth rather than fixing it.
Comprehensive coverage pays for damage to your auto from almost all other causes, including fire, severe weather, vandalism, floods and theft. Comprehensive coverage also will cover broken glass, such as windshield damage. You are not required by law to carry comprehensive coverage.
Rental Car Insurance
Car rental companies offer several different insurance options that your existing policy might already cover. They typically offer the following products at the counter:
Collision Damage Waiver (CDW)
Collision Damage Waiver is also referred to as a Loss Damage Waiver (LDW). If you have comprehensive and collision coverage on your own car, you will likely not need this additional protection. (Comprehensive insurance covers vehicular damages caused by accidents such as fire, theft, wind, hail or a run-in with a deer, vandalism, or theft. Collision insurance covers the cost of repairs or the actual cash value of the vehicle, if damaged in a crash or rollover.) This protection can cost an extra $10-$20 a day.
Liability Insurance covers medical expenses and damages to another person’s property as a result of a car accident caused by the insured’s negligence. If you are adequately insured on your own car, you may consider forgoing this additional liability protection. This supplemental insurance can cost $7-$14 a day.
Personal Accident Insurance
Personal Accident Insurance offers coverage to the renter and passengers for medical bills resulting from a car crash. If you have adequate health insurance and disability income insurance, or are covered by personal injury protection under your own car insurance, you will likely not need this additional insurance. It usually costs about $1-$5 a day.
Personal Effects Coverage
Personal Effects Coverage provides for the theft of personal items inside the rental car. If you have a homeowners or renters insurance policy, it generally covers this already. If you frequently travel with expensive jewelry or sports equipment, it may be more cost-effective to purchase a floater under your home or renters insurance policies so the items are fully protected when you travel. Generally, this coverage costs $2-$5 a day.