Are you like many others when you shop for auto insurance? Do you look for the cheapest possible policy? Do you only get the least amount of coverage required by your state?
While you may go bragging to your friends about the “great deal” you got, you may regret not getting full coverage. Unfortunately, some people have to learn life lessons the hard way.
In this article, I’ll show you everything you need to know about full coverage auto insurance.
What is full coverage auto insurance?
“Full coverage” can have different meanings for everyone. The definition can also vary among insurance companies. Always read the details of any auto insurance policy before you agree to the terms.
Almost all full coverage auto policies include three types of protection:
This covers the damage that’s deemed your fault in an accident. It includes the other vehicle and the medical expenses of the people inside it. But it doesn’t cover any damage to you, your passengers, or your vehicle.
There are also maximum limits placed on liability insurance, and they can vary. In most cases it’s:
- $500,000 total for one accident
- $100,000 for the other vehicle, and
- $250,000 for the driver of the other vehicle and their passengers
This covers the damage to you, your passengers, and your vehicle if the accident is your fault. There will be a small deductible, usually ranging from $100 to $500 that you’ll pay out of pocket. But the insurance company pays the rest.
This covers other damage to your vehicle that may occur while you’re not driving it.
It includes things like vandalism or damage during a hailstorm or a hurricane. It can also include replacement costs if your vehicle gets stolen.
Are you covered in every instance with full coverage auto insurance?
The short answer is no. A good example is if you get into an accident with someone who’s uninsured and the accident is their fault. In this case, you often won’t get coverage for property damage or medical fees.
It’s good to add uninsured motorist insurance to your policy for this very reason. It will protect you if the other driver’s insurance doesn’t cover all the expenses.
Sometimes your medical expenses (or those of your passengers) won’t get covered, either. This happens many times when the accident is your fault. But, many people choose to add this to their policy by paying extra.
There are other add-ons you may consider on top of your full coverage auto insurance. For example, most comprehensive coverage plans don’t include roadside assistance. This is a nice thing to have if you find your car often breaks down. But, you can usually add it for a small extra fee.
Gap insurance is also a standard add-on. It covers the difference between the market value of your car at the time of an accident and the amount you still owe.
Who needs full coverage auto insurance the most?
The best way to determine if you need full coverage car insurance or not is by looking at a few examples:
- If you’re still making car payments, your lender will require you to have full coverage insurance. It’s a condition of obtaining the loan in almost every case. Insurance companies have the right to repossess the vehicle if you don’t maintain full coverage.
- If you own your vehicle outright, but can’t afford to replace it if it’s totaled, then you need full coverage. If the other driver is at fault in an accident and doesn’t have insurance, you’ll need to cover the cost yourself.
- There’s another possibility that almost no one mentions. Often, the fault for an accident is determined to be on both sides. For instance, the crash might be 40 percent the other driver’s fault and 60 percent your fault. The insurance company will decide this. In this case, you’d be responsible for 60 percent of the cost to replace your vehicle.
- If you do a lot of driving, particularly in severe weather conditions, your odds of having an accident go way up. In this case, it would make a lot of sense to have full coverage.
- If your vehicle is worth a lot of money, then it makes sense to have full coverage. A good example is if an accident is determined to be your fault (or even partially your fault). You’ll lose way more than you’d pay for full coverage if your vehicle is totaled or severely damaged.
How much does full coverage auto insurance cost?
There is no set price for full coverage auto insurance. There are many factors an insurance company considers when calculating your insurance premium. Here are the most important ones:
Past driving record
Insurance companies want to know if you have accidents and or tickets on your record. A history of severe issues like DUIs or many speeding tickets may force you into a much higher bracket.
Have you had a lapse in your auto insurance?
Usually, if you haven’t had car insurance in the last six months or longer, your initial rate will be higher.
Age and gender
While youth has many advantages, this is not one of them. You will usually pay more the younger you are.
Young guys get dinged harder than young women on this one—sorry guys.
Where you live
Your insurance rates can sometimes double if you move to a new area. An example is if you move to an area where theft and accidents are more prevalent than in other regions. Now there’s a factor you probably never thought of when shopping for a new place to live!
According to Forbes, people in Idaho, Maine, and Ohio pay 33 percent less than the national average. But Michigan residents pay 90 percent more than the national average.
Seem unfair? It might be, but there’s nothing you can do. Insurance companies look at factors like:
- The rate of insurance fraud in a state
- How big the insurance claims are in a state, and
- The automobile theft rate for a particular state
What kind of vehicle do you drive?
Your insurance company will consider a few factors when looking at your car. Things like make, age, and the safety features of your car determine how much they’ll charge you.
But most auto insurance companies don’t charge more for trivial things. A typical example is the color of your car (red car owners don’t pay more than white car buyers for the same make and model).
According to insure.com, the Honda Odyssey LX is the least costly to insure. They say minivans usually have lower insurance because of their many safety features. The Mercedes S65 AMG is listed as the most expensive to insure. And five other Mercedes models fall in the top ten. Sports cars and luxury cars cost more to insure than the average vehicle.
In most cases, you’ll save money in the long-term by getting full coverage auto insurance. Even with adding on a few extras, it still makes financial sense for most.
Have you made any comparisons for what it would cost you? Estimate the cost for five years of full coverage versus the cost if an accident is deemed your fault. In doing the math, you may be rethinking what makes up cheap car insurance. You might find that full coverage is worth it.