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Woman wondering about car insurance

Questions to Ask Before Buying Car Insurance

Whether you’re getting your first car or switching to your fifth insurance provider, there are certain questions you need answered before signing a car insurance policy.

How Much and How Far Will You Drive?

Consider how much you drive. Do you often take road trips? Do you only use the vehicle to commute to and from work? The more you use your vehicle, the more coverage you may need on your car insurance policy.

What is the Value of Your Vehicle?

Newer vehicles generally cost more to insure. This is because new vehicles are typically insured with full coverage car insurance. Older vehicles that are paid off can sometimes get by with minimum liability coverages as required by the state. When looking for car insurance, it is important to insure your vehicle for as much as it is worth in case of a total loss. If you have an older, paid off vehicle, however, sometimes it is cheaper to insure with minimum liability only. If the cost of insuring the vehicle is more than the cost it would be to replace it, you may want to skim back on unnecessary coverage.

Who Will Be Driving the Car?

Usually you are the main insured on your car insurance policy, but this doesn’t mean someone else won’t occasionally borrow your car. If your child or a roommate is going to be sharing the vehicle with you, you will want to name them on the policy to make sure they’re covered. If you are the primary driver, you may not need to list someone else on your policy for them to be covered, such as if they only borrow your vehicle once.

Keep in mind that adding people to your policy can affect the cost of your car insurance. The driving record and credit score of another driver on your policy can raise or lower your monthly car insurance premiums. In some cases, insurance providers may even require you to list a driver as an excluded driver. This primarily occurs when you share a household with someone who is considered a “high-risk” driver, such as a driver who has a history of accidents and DUIs. If someone is listed as an excluded driver on your policy and you allow them to operate the vehicle, they will not be covered in case of an accident.

What Coverage Do I Need?

Not all car insurance policies are created equal. They should, however, all have the minimum liability coverage required by the state. This not only dictates the type of coverage you have to carry, but the amount, as well.

In Texas, drivers must carry at least:

  • $30,000 in bodily injury liability per person
  • $60,000 in bodily injury liability per two or more people
  • $25,000 in property damage liability

These are only basic coverages and don’t represent how much coverage you should actually have on your car insurance policy. Not only should you consider higher limits of liability, but also consider full coverage car insurance, which includes:

  • Comprehensive Coverage: Comprehensive coverage covers damages to the insured vehicle caused by accidents aside from collision. This includes fire, wind, hail, falling object, theft, vandalism, etc.
  • Collision Coverage: Collision coverage covers damages to the insured vehicle caused by collision with another vehicle or object.
  • Personal Injury Protection: Also available as medical payments coverage in most states, personal injury protection (PIP) covers medical payments for you and your passengers after an accident, no matter who caused the accident.
  • Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist: This coverage compensates you for damages that occur in an accident with another driver who is not carrying insurance.
  • Roadside Assistance: Roadside assistance helps with trip interruptions, such as if you run out of gas, get a flat tire or need to be towed.

How Much Will You Pay?

Of course, price is one of the first things people look at when searching for a car insurance policy. It is important to find an affordable policy that suits your needs, but cheaper doesn’t always necessarily mean better.

Keep track of things that may be influencing your car insurance rate. A poor driving record or bad credit can raise your rates by a significant amount, no matter where you go. Some insurance providers specialize in “high-risk” drivers, offering low premiums only to hide fees and extra expenses. When you see a deal that is too good to be true, be wary. In the meantime, work to save money by building credit, driving defensively, taking driving classes, and asking about which car insurance discounts you qualify for. Your age, gender and location can also influence the cost of your car insurance, so compare your rates to those around you of the same age group.

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