I am working with a prospective client on their car insurance. I realized he’d never had a good explanation on car insurance once we began to review the quote together. I suggested we start over so I could explain each coverage and answer his questions. Unfortunately, I’ve found most people have never received a good explanation on car insurance, what it covers, and options worth considering, so I thought I’d write about that in this post.
Liability Coverage: This coverage, also referred to as Bodily Injury Property Damage (or BIPD), pays when you hit another car, person, or object and are at fault. The bodily injury portion is designed to cover an injured person’s medical bills and the property damage is there to repair the other person’s vehicle or whatever you hit. This is the only coverage required on a Texas car insurance policy.
The limits may be expressed in one number or with three numbers. People with one number usually have combined single limit coverage ranging from $100,000 to $500,000. If your limits are expressed with three numbers, then you have split limits which can range from the Texas minimum of 30/60/25 all the way up to 500/500/100. Each number represents thousands with split limits.
Uninsured Motorists: Uninsured / under insured motorist may be referred to as UM / UIM BIPD is optional coverage to protect you if someone with no car insurance or not enough car insurance hits you and it’s their fault. It can be used to cover medical expenses for you and anyone riding in the car with you, as well as to repair your car if it’s damaged. Coverage can be written as either combined single or split limits.
Medical Coverage: There are two types of optional coverage available, medical and Personal Injury Protection or PIP. Both provide medical care ranging from $2,500 to $10,000 or more, and pay on a reimbursement basis. PIP, however, can also be used to cover lost wages or hiring someone to assist with activities you’re unable to do following a car insurance accident. It can also be used by a personal injury attorney in a lawsuit.
Deductibles: Any deductible, is the amount of money the policyholder must first pay before the car insurance policy pays. The two most recognizable deductibles are comprehensive and collision. Collision pays to repair your car after an accident and comprehensive covers hail damage, falling objects such as tree limbs, fire, flood, if it’s stolen, or you hit a deer or other animal.
For you to have either coverage you must have a deductible. If the deductible isn’t listed on your policy, then you do not have that coverage. For instance, a liability only policy will not have collision coverage. Conversely, if you still are leasing or paying a loan on your vehicle, then you’ll need to have collision coverage.
Roadside Assistance: This usually covers several services including towing, changing a flat tire, unlocking a car, or providing a gallon of gas if you’ve run out of fuel. It’s an inexpensive option and worth every penny when you least expect it.
Rental Reimbursement: It’s hard to get to work or anywhere else when your car’s in the shop after an accident. Having this coverage is invaluable and lasts up to 30 days. For anything larger than a sub-compact, you’ll need at least $35 a day in any metropolitan area.
Options: Life is full of options and car insurance companies are constantly coming out with new ones. Some of the more common ones include accident forgiveness, new car replacement, GAP coverage, OEM parts, and more allowing you to tailor your policy to your specific needs.
The prospective client was pleased with our discussion, and for the first time, he felt like an informed consumer. What surprised him most, is that for a few dollars more a month, he could be fully protected rather than carrying inadequate coverage. What questions do you have? Share your questions, comments, and questions with me on my Facebook, Google +, and LinkedIn pages. I’d love to hear from you!