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Important Things to Know About Auto Insurance

McCall Martin
McCall Martin | Senior Editor

No matter what kinds of car you drive, you need car insurance. Car insurance helps protect your car by covering repairs in the event of an accident. It also offers liability coverage for property damage and bodily injury.

To help you understand car insurance and know what coverage you need, we've created this guide with common terms and frequently asked questions.

Types of Coverage

Auto insurance policies offer different kinds of coverage. Some states require certain kinds of coverage to be included in your auto insurance policy. Regardless of where you live in the United States, you'll usually need liability coverage.

Liability coverage offers protection if you cause a bodily injury or property damage. It covers the other person's medical bills and repairing damage. Many insurers also allow you to add further liability insurance to your car insurance policy.

Additional protection can be added to your policy. The most common options include comprehensive, collision, medical payments, personal injury protection, and uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.

Comprehensive coverage covers your car in non-collision circumstances like if a tree fell on your car. Collision coverage helps cover repairs for damage resulting from any kind of collision. 

Medical payments coverage offers payouts to cover medical costs for you and your passengers. Personal Injury Protection (PIP) offers coverage for medical costs and replaces lost wages or even covers funeral expenses.

Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage provides protection if you're in a hit-and-run or in an accident caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver.

Car insurance companies offer other riders like coverage for a rental car while your car is in the shop for covered repairs. These additional riders vary by insurance provider. If there's an extra rider that you want to have with your auto insurance coverage, you'll need to find an insurer that offers it.

Auto Insurance Rates

Your car insurance rate depends on several factors, including the types of coverage you choose, your driving record, and your car. The more types of coverage you buy, the higher your total premium will be. If you have a good driving record, you'll usually qualify for lower insurance premium rates overall.

Your car's value, cost of repairs, and safety ratings all affect your overall rate. For example, newer cars haven't depreciated as much as older cars, so newer cars usually have higher overall rates.

Classic cars or antique cars have special policy rules and higher rates because the cars have high values and repairs are expensive, especially if you want to keep your car authentic.

Car Insurance Discounts

You can find many discounts and policy features that help you save from an auto insurance carrier. The most common ones include

  • Safe driving
  • Customer loyalty
  • Teen and college student

The monitored safe driving discounts personalize your rate to how safe of a driver you are. Usually, you download an app to your phone that will track your driving and give tips for how you can be a safer driver. Many insurers with these programs offer an initial discount for participation. When you renew your policy, you'll receive a rate based on your driving habits.

Insurers also reward customer loyalty through multi-vehicle and multi-policy discounts. Multi-vehicle discounts help you save when you're insuring multiple cars. Multi-policy discounts also offer savings if you have more than one kind of policy from the same insurer.

Teens and college students are a higher risk group of drivers to insure. Many insurers offer discounts for participating in safe driving programs, getting good grades, and for students without a car away at college. These programs help lower the insurance cost for young drivers.

Some insurers offer additional discounts that are less common or distinct to the car insurance company.

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Auto Insurance Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best auto insurance company?

Progressive has earned the top rank on Best Company from its positive customer reviews. Learn more about Progressive's insurance options.

How much is car insurance?

Car insurance rates vary based on your driving history, your car, and the kind of coverage you include on your insurance policy. Since multiple factors go into determining an insurance rate, it makes it difficult to give a general cost estimate.

We recommend getting a car insurance quote from one of our top auto insurance companies.

How do you shop for car insurance?

You can use websites to compare insurance quotes, rates, and coverage options from different carriers. You can also work with an insurance agent to find a good policy.

What is comprehensive car insurance?

Comprehensive car insurance has a specific definition. It covers damage to your car unrelated to a collision.

How does car insurance work?

To have coverage, you pay monthly premiums. If you're in an accident, you can file a claim with your insurance to help cover repairs and your liability. Your policy has a deductible, which you'll pay before the insurer starts covering costs up to your policy's coverage limit.

How to lower car insurance rates?

Aside from having a good driving record, many insurance companies offer discounts to help you save on your premiums and out-of-pocket costs.

One common discount is available through participation in a driving monitoring program. Through an app on your phone, you'll receive driving tips and alerts for unsafe driving that will help you be a better driver and may help you qualify for a lower rate.

Check with your auto insurer to learn more about the discounts it offers.

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