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UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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Experts maintain that you should always consider comprehensive car insurance coverage whether you are shopping for a new auto policy or comparing rates when your current policy comes up for renewal.
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All 50 states require at least a minimum amount of liability coverage, or pricey proof of your ability to pay for damages, to legally drive on public thoroughfares. Liability insurance is intended to cover the medical expenses of those injured or killed as the result of a motor vehicle accident for which you are at fault.
Collision Car Insurance
While liability insurance is all you may be legally required to maintain, it is usually not enough to adequately protect you and your family financially. Liability insurance does not cover damages to your own vehicle whether from accidents or other causes.
There are two main components to a typical car insurance policy, liability coverage, otherwise known as bodily injury protection, and physical damage insurance which covers the cost of needed repairs (usually less a preset deductible amount) for your own vehicle in the event of an auto accident or other occurrence.
Two different kinds of damage insurance are available. The first is collision insurance, which covers damages to your car from an accident without regard to who was at fault. Collision coverage is often required by leasing companies, banks, and finance companies until any vehicle loan is paid in full.
Auto loan companies require collision coverage to protect their investments and to make sure the cars they have lent money against will be repaired if they are damaged in any way. Many lenders will also require comprehensive coverage.
One firm rule of thumb: You must have liability coverage before you can purchase collision and comprehensive insurance.
Comprehensive Car Insurance
According to the Consumer Finance Report, comprehensive insurance is often referred to simply as comp or OTC, other than collision coverage. Comprehensive coverage can be confusing, so it pays to spend a few minutes to thoroughly investigate this important insurance tool.
Comprehensive insurance covers what collision insurance won’t. Collision covers damages to your car resulting from an accident. Comprehensive covers physical damages beyond what collision normally covers.
Many consumers erroneously believe that comprehensive covers any kind of damage, which is not true. Comprehensive insurance only pays out for damages unrelated to a collision. If your car is damaged in an accident, crashes into some other object, or is involved in a rollover crash your collision coverage will pick up the tab for repairs.
If for instance, you run into a deer or some other animal on the highway and your car is damaged, comprehensive insurance will cover the repairs. The unfortunate animal would not be compensated nor cared for under any part of your policy. It is important to note that there is no insurance coverage for damage caused by wear and tear on your automobile.
Comprehensive insurance will not cover damages that occur through the normal use of your vehicle.
Motorists should also remember that without collision and comprehensive insurance, you would pay in full for damages to your car, unless another motorist caused the accident and has sufficient liability insurance to cover your damaged vehicle.
Another bit of advice Consumer Finance offers is to consider buying additional coverage for personal property items you may carry in your car. Comprehensive covers only the cost of repairing or replacing the car itself. There is no coverage for the contents of your car should your belongings get damaged or go missing.
What Comprehensive Car Insurance Covers
Comprehensive insurance covers damages if your car was damaged by water, flooding, hail, wind storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes or other weather related causes or acts of nature. Theft and vandalism are also covered under comprehensive insurance. Windshield and window replacement are usually covered in full.
Vehicle damage caused by falling objects and projectiles is also covered by the comprehensive section of your auto policy. Damages caused by rioters and looters or other civil disturbances are covered by comp, as are damages resulting from contact with an animal.
In general, comprehensive insurance covers damages caused by acts of nature or what are commonly termed as acts of God. Some events are not covered by comprehensive coverage. For instance, acts of vandalism by members of your own family or employees of your company or business are not covered. Nor is theft covered under the same circumstances.
Some insurance providers may offer “portable” comprehensive coverage, usually with limited benefits, that will cover another person’s vehicle that you may be driving. In most cases, collision and comprehensive insurances are sold together as a single option. On occasion, your insurance carrier may offer one without the other, but it is rare.
It is always best to know what you are insured for in advance of an accident.
Beyond this brief coverage outline, policyholders should read and study both the collision and comprehensive sections of their auto policy to know for sure what is and what may not be covered should the need arise.
The Costs of Comp Coverage
Like any portion of an auto insurance policy, rates for comprehensive coverage will vary greatly depending on the age of the insured, the amount of driving experience, the area in which the car will reside and be driven, the value of the vehicle and the number of miles the car will likely be driven in the course of a year.
Other than glass coverage, repairs to a vehicle under comprehensive insurance provisions will most always have a deductible. This is an amount that the insured must pay out-of-pocket before the insurance company will pay the balance of the claim. Deductibles range between $200 and $1,500.
If at all possible, you should consider higher deductibles as a cost savings measure according to MSNBC.
By increasing your deductible say from $200 to $500, you could reduce the cost of your collision and comprehensive premiums by 15 to 30%. Increasing the deductible amount to $1,000 decreases the premium cost by 40% or more!
Some insurance industry experts even recommend dropping collision and comprehensive insurances altogether, especially if you are insuring a newer younger driver.
In some cases, if you are driving an older used car, you may be paying more over time for insurance premiums than the vehicle is worth. At that point, you should consider setting up an emergency fund to cover necessary repairs to your vehicle and forego expensive collision and comprehensive coverage.
Speaking of Deer
In many areas of our country the deer population is growing uncontrollably, leading to far more automobile and deer collisions than ever before according to an article published by the Insurance Information Institute (III).
According to the article, collisions with dear have increased by more than 20% in recent years. It is estimated that there are 1.6 million collisions involving deer each year. The end result of all of these crashes is 200 fatalities, many thousands of injured motorists and more than $3.6 billion in property damage.
If the drivers’ out-of-pocket costs were taken into account, it would add another $1 billion to the tab! The average cost per deer-related crash is $3,100, which is almost 2% higher than during the same period last year.
The III cautions motorists to be more aware of areas where deer may present, especially at night. Deer can be anywhere, even in heavily populated urban areas. Be especially careful driving at dusk in heavily wooded areas or near city parks or recreation centers.
How to Avoid Deer Crashes
We’ve talked a lot about considering comprehensive car insurance to cover incidents such as a late-night collision with a wandering herd of deer, but it is also important to avoid such a calamity where at all possible. The III includes a list of do’s and don’ts for motorists looking to avoid deer related mishaps.
Deer are unpredictable creatures that move mostly at night and often travel in groups. When you see one deer in the road, there are usually several more lurking close by. Deer are skittish by nature, which makes them unpredictable.
The glare of your headlights or sudden blast of your car horn may not scare them away. Rather, they may do just the opposite of what you’d like and jump out in front of your vehicle.
Many rural areas are posted with signs where you are likely to find deer. Pay attention to these signs and drive cautiously through such posted areas.
Use your high beam headlights at night to better see animals at the side of the roadway.
Protect yourself as best you can to minimize injury in the event of a crash. Always wear your seatbelt. Of all motorists killed in animal related crashes, 60% were not wearing their seat belts. Additionally, 65% of motorcycle fatalities found that riders were not wearing a helmet at the time the crash occurred.
Be attentive during the late evening and early morning hours. Deer are the most active during these times and therefore you are at the highest risk of a deer-car run in. Motorists should not rely on deer whistles, fences, or reflectors because they don’t work!
If you do hit a deer, do not go near the animal. Call the police or animal control officers and report the accident. Many states have laws that require you to report collisions with animals. Bottom line is to always drive carefully and be alert for animals in the roadway, especially at night.
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