How to Choose Car Insurance Coverage

Before you choose car insurance coverage for your vehicle, car owners must determine the amount of coverage they need to feel comfortable with the situation. The main factors influencing this are your state's laws, the type of car you drive, and the driver's preference and comfort. When you’re ready to choose auto insurance coverage, enter your ZIP code below to start comparing quotes for free.

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Tonya Sisler has a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of South Carolina in Journalism and has worked for 15+ years in management. She has also completed a proofreading certification and is currently a professional writer.

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Brad Larson has been in the insurance industry for more than a dozen years. He started out as a claims adjuster for a national carrier. He has since switched to the agency side of the business. Brad is licensed in all P&C lines.

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Reviewed by Brad Larsen
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Jun 4, 2021

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Car insurance is a vital part of owning a motor vehicle. It is even a legal requirement to provide minimum coverage for a vehicle in most states, though the definition of minimum coverage can differ between states. Using the internet can help you find cheap car insurance coverage.

Choosing the coverage is a vital step in making a selection between different companies and properly protecting the motor vehicle in case of accidents and other problems. Choose coverage today by using our FREE car insurance quote search tool; just put in your ZIP code!

Before it is possible to choose any coverage for the vehicle, car owners must determine the amount of coverage they need to feel comfortable with the situation. Three main factors affect the determination, which include:

  • State laws
  • The vehicle
  • Owner’s comfort and preference

How Factors Affect Coverage Selection

The state laws only provide the guidelines for minimum coverage needed based on the type of state and their particular rules. In most states, basic liability insurance is the minimum coverage to help protect other drivers, though some states might also require medical coverage for individuals as well.

Beyond the state laws, the vehicle might also dictate some of the coverage necessities. This is less common, but some vehicles like classic cars might have special requirements for coverage based on whether they are show pieces or expected to drive.

The final and most important part of coverage is the comfort of the vehicle’s owner. A vehicle owner ultimately makes the final decision on coverage after the factors relating to legality are considered.

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Types of Coverage Options

The particulars of any insurance coverage varies by company. In some companies, basic liability might only provide the state minimum while others will include a little more than the minimum for the same coverage selection. Though the companies vary, the types of coverage are often similar among different companies. A few main types of coverage are available to either add to a plan or adopt as a new insurance plan. The options include:

  1. Liability coverage
  2. Property damage
  3. Physical damage
  4. Personal injury
  5. Passenger injury
  6. Theft coverage
  7. Uninsured driver coverage
  8. Full coverage

The Meaning of Coverage Types

Insurance companies will vary in the terms they used to describe their basic insurances and coverage options, but most will have these basic choices available for vehicle owners.

Liability coverage is often the least expensive and also the bare minimum option available through most insurance companies. This type of coverage meets the state minimum requirements and provides a set amount for the repairs and injuries other drivers sustain after an accident caused by the vehicle owner.

Property damage is additional coverage to pay for damages to property in the event an accident harms something other than a vehicle. For example, an accident where a car ended up hitting a house or other piece of property would need to pay for that damage.

The physical damage coverage is another addition to a plan that some car owners can add. This type of coverage is designed to repair damage to the vehicle related to weather, falling tree branches or similar events. It will vary in what is covered by insurance company.

Personal injury coverage is an addition that provides medical care to the driver of the vehicle if an accident occurs.

Passenger injury is designed to provide medical funding for passengers in the vehicle during an accident.

Theft coverage, which is sometimes paired with fire damage coverage, is designed to protect against theft and vandalism of the vehicle.

The uninsured driver coverage is designed to help repair damages to a vehicle after an accident with another driver who was uninsured and caused the accident. Some companies might include medical coverage as well as repairs, depending on their policy.

Full coverage is the full gambit of coverage options. It includes liability, protection against damage to the car while it is not in motion such as from a hail storm, paying for medical injuries to the driver and passenger and repairing the car in case of an accident.

Determining the Best Coverage

The best coverage for any individual is ultimately a personal choice. Each person must judge their own budget, personal comfort and preferences. While it is a personal decision, having an idea of what is preferred before seeking the particular companies to compare costs for the coverage is best course of action.

The first step is determining whether the vehicle is worth repairing if in an accident. In the case of an old used vehicle that is not a classic car, it might cost more to fix the vehicle than simply buying a new one, so lower coverage is an appropriate.

After determining that the car is worth covering for repairs, the next step is looking at the environment and where the vehicle is located. A car that is kept in a garage is safe from external damage from storms or vandalism. If a car is kept on the street, it might be best to add coverage to protect against physical damage in case of storms. In a bad neighborhood, coverage against theft might also be a good addition to the requirements.

Another consideration is whether to protect against personal and passenger injuries. This is ultimately a personal decision.

The final part of determining the best coverage for the vehicle is personal comfort. Personal comfort is always the determining factor because any coverage that results in feeling nervous or uncomfortable is not appropriate.

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Comparing Companies

Once the important elements of coverage are determined, it is time to compare different insurance companies and find out which is the best choice to meet personal requirements and standards.

When comparing companies, ask for a quote based on the required elements of coverage. Different companies will vary in the name of the coverage, so it is important to ensure the elements are included in the quote.

Only after ensuring the quote will have every necessity previously determined for coverage is it time to look at the cost.

The price will differ between companies and the amount of coverage in different categories will also vary. This means it is important to pay attention to the particulars of the quote and the price to ensure the vehicle is properly covered in case an accident occurs.

Repeat the quote process with a few more companies to find the best insurance company for personal needs and preferences. Comparing the different companies based on the amount of coverage and the price will determine if it is the best or if other options are giving better deals.

Comparison shopping is the only way to find out which coverage is best on a personal level since each driver will have different needs that are most important. You can see a FREE car insurance comparison list by putting in your ZIP code.

Choosing the best car insurance coverage is a matter of understanding the options available, determining the minimum coverage requirements according to state laws and factoring in the elements of insurance coverage that are most important on a personal level.

The final decision about which insurance coverage option best fits individual needs and preferences will come from comparisons of different companies. See the different options for you by putting in your ZIP code!

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