Auto insurance isn’t one-size-fits-all. The right amount for you depends on your state, your loans, and your finances.
Car insurance isn’t one-size-fits-all: There are a lot of things to consider when you’re trying to figure out what you need in a policy.
Each state has different requirements, and factors like who owns your car and your overall financial health will also come into play. Every person has different insurance needs, but you’ll need to understand what’s available before you decide.
There are many different types of coverage you could see on your policy. What’s required and available will vary by state. There are 7 major types of insurance coverage:
- Liability coverage: Generally required, this coverage covers bodily injury and property damage. It’s most commonly referred to as state minimum coverage.
- Collision coverage: If you hit another car or an object, this coverage repairs or replaces the car. It’s often required by financing and leasing companies.
- Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage: Required in some states, this coverage will help if you’re hit by an uninsured driver, or cover damages if their coverage isn’t sufficient.
- Medical payments coverage: Not required in all states, this coverage helps pay for medical bills.
- Comprehensive coverage: While not often required, this coverage will help repair or replace a car damaged by an outside force, like a storm, theft, or vandalism.
- Personal Injury Protection (PIP): Required in no-fault states, this coverage helps with medical bills, and expenses incurred related to injury, like lost wages.
- Gap coverage: Typically required for leased or financed cars, this coverage covers the difference between the car’s original price and the value after depreciation.
Other types of coverage, like rental reimbursement, travel coverage, rental car insurance, and towing and labor cost coverage could also be optional, depending on your insurer.
If you’re looking for car insurance coverage and are trying to determine how much you need, consider these three factors to make the right choice for you.
Car insurance requirements vary by state
Each state sets its own rules on car insurance, including the minimum coverage you need to have. In most states, the minimum coverage is a liability policy, which only covers damage you do to another person, their car, or their property.
Some states have higher minimum coverage, however. In Michigan, a state minimum policy would include not only the basic liability coverage, but also no-fault coverage, including personal injury protection, property protection insurance, and residual liability insurance coverages. But, a few states don’t require any insurance at all — in New Hampshire, for example, there’s no minimum requirement for insurance.
Your requirements for meeting the state minimum varies widely across the US. Check with your state’s motor vehicle department to find requirements.
If you have a car loan or lease your car, you’ll need more than state minimum coverage
If you don’t own your car outright, you’ll need to maintain more coverage than the state minimum. Financing companies, including leasing companies, require more than the state minimum insurance. You’ll typically need five types of coverage on your financed or leased car:
- The required liability coverage
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage
- Collision insurance
- Comprehensive insurance
- Gap coverage (not always required)
Since liability coverage only covers another person’s injuries and damage, financing companies require coverage to repair the car or reimburse it after an accident. You’ll need to maintain this coverage to stay within the terms of your lease or finance contract. Your financing company can provide information on what coverage is needed.
Your finances should factor into your coverage decisions
If you’re considering dropping some coverage to make insurance cheaper, it might be worth evaluating not just what you can afford every month, but also what you could afford if something went wrong.
Think about it in terms of optional comprehensive insurance, which covers damage when you’re not driving. If a tree fell on your car tomorrow, would you be able to cover the cost of repairing or replacing it without insurance? If the answer is no, keeping comprehensive coverage and adding a few extra dollars to your monthly car insurance bill may not sound so bad anymore.
This philosophy should extend into all parts of your coverage. If you know that you won’t be able to cover a $1,000 deductible if you get into an accident, pay more for coverage each month and keep a lower deductible. The less ability you have to cover yourself financially should something go wrong, the more insurance coverage you’ll need.