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How Much Car Insurance Should You Buy?

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Car insurance is one of the most dreaded chunks in your budget. And depending on which state you live in, it could be a smaller or larger chunk of your budget than your neighbors across state lines.

How much insurance should you buy? Any insurance agent worthy of their salt will tell you that you should buy as much as you can afford. While this is a good rule of thumb, it's about as useful as a stock broker's tip to buy low and sell high. It might be sound logic but it doesn't get you any closer to an educated decision. There are a few filters that need consideration in order to make that educated decision. First, what is the state required minimum coverage where you live? Second, what does the minimum cover? Third, what other coverage is available and can you afford it? And fourthly, what are you protecting?

What do the minimums cover?

Now that you know what your state requires, what are you actually covered for once you purchase the minimum? Using the coverage definitions that follow, find the types of coverage required and see what your state says is the accepted minimum.

Coverage Definitions

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Bodily Injury Liability

Covers other people's bodily injuries or death for which you are responsible. It also provides for a legal defense if another party in the accident files a lawsuit against you. Claims for bodily injury may be for such things as medical bills, loss of income or pain and suffering. In the event of a serious accident, you want enough insurance to cover a judgment against you in a lawsuit, without jeopardizing your personal assets. Bodily injury liability covers injury to people, not your vehicle. Therefore, it's a good idea to have the same level of coverage for all of your cars. Bodily Injury Liability does NOT cover you or other people on your policy. Coverage is limited to the terms and conditions contained in the policy.

Comprehensive Physical Damage Coverage

Covers your vehicle, and sometimes other vehicles you may be driving for losses resulting from incidents other than collision. For example, comprehensive insurance covers damage to your car if it is stolen; or damaged by flood, fire, or animals. Pays to fix your vehicle less the deductible you choose. To keep your premiums low, select as high a deductible as you feel comfortable paying out of pocket. Coverage is limited to the terms and conditions contained in the policy.

Collision Coverage
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Covers damage to your car when your car hits, or is hit by, another vehicle, or other object. Pays to fix your vehicle less the deductible you choose. To keep your premiums low, select as large a deductible as you feel comfortable paying out of pocket. For older cars, consider dropping this coverage, since coverage is normally limited to the cash value of your car. Coverage is limited to the terms and conditions contained in the policy.

Medical Payments

Covers medical expenses to you and your passengers injured in an accident. There may also be coverage if as a pedestrian a vehicle injures you. Does NOT matter who is at fault. Coverage is limited to the terms and conditions contained in the policy.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Covers bodily injuries to you and your passengers when the other person has no insurance or not enough insurance in a crash that is not your fault. In some states, there is also uninsured motorist coverage for damage to your vehicle. Given the large number of uninsured motorists, this is very important coverage to have, even in states with no-fault insurance. Coverage is limited to the terms and conditions contained in the policy

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Personal Injury Protection Coverage

Covers within the specified limits, the medical, hospital and funeral expenses of the insured, others in his vehicles and pedestrians struck by him. The basic coverage for the insured's own injuries on a first-party basis, without regard to fault. It is only available in certain states.

Property Damage Liability

Covers you if your car damages someone else's property. Usually it is their car, but it could be a fence, a house or any other property damaged in an accident. It also provides you with legal defense if another party files a lawsuit against you. It is a good idea to purchase enough of this insurance to cover the amount of damage your car might do to another vehicle or object. Coverage is limited to the terms and conditions contained in the policy.

Rental Car Reimbursement

Covers renting a car if your car isn't drivable or while your car is being repaired because of a covered accident.
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What else is available and can you afford it?

Did you come across a coverage and think, "I need that but it isn't required by state law" when you were reviewing the coverage definitions? Chances are you did. Can your budget afford the additional expense of these protections? Or maybe more to the point; can you afford NOT to have these additional protections? At CarInsurance.com it's easy to get multiple quotes all with a click of your mouse. And during the quoting process, it's simple to add or remove coverage to see how additional coverage will affect your budget.
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What are you protecting?

What assets need to be protected from being plucked away if you cause injury or damage?


  1. Your car itself. If this is a significant asset, or at least the bank you owe money to thinks so, then you will need comprehensive and collision.

  2. Your net worth. Do you have an enormous net worth to protect. If so, either get it out of your name and into a trust or buy all the insurance you can. If you have little or nothing to protect, then you can get by with less and still be financially responsible.


However, after you determine how much protection to get, always ask how much more it is for the next level higher. Very often, you can get significantly more coverage for very little cost.

Car insurance isn't flashy. There is no "wow" factor and the opposite gender isn't going to be impressed by the size of your policy. But not having enough can be the difference between financial stability and financial ruin. For what its worth, CarInsurance.com finds financial stability incredibly appealing.

Visit http://www.carinsurance.com for online auto insurance quotes.
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