What is auto insurance, and how does it work?

auto insurance

Know what your auto insurance covers and what it doesn’t.

Most states require basic personal auto insurance, which offers financial protection in the event of an accident. Is it, however, sufficient? What are your choices? Learn about auto insurance and the various available types of coverage.

The fundamentals of auto insurance

Auto insurance is the insurance business that provides financial protection for you in the event of an accident or theft. The insurance provider promises to pay your losses as stipulated in your policy in exchange for you paying a premium.

Auto insurance covers the following items:

  • Personal property, such as car theft or damage.
  • Liability – your legal obligation to others in the event of bodily harm or damage to the property.
  • Medical – the expenses of treating injuries, rehabilitation, and missed pay, as well as burial costs.

Most states in the United States require basic personal auto insurance, while the rules vary in other places. Individually priced auto insurance coverages (a la carte) allow you to tailor coverage amounts to your specific needs and budget.

Policies are often given for six months or a year and are renewable. When it’s time to renew your coverage and pay your payment, the insurance provider will send you a notice.

Who is covered by my Autoinsurance policy, and under what conditions?

Whether you’re driving your car or someone else’s, your auto policy will protect you and other family members (with their permission). Your policy also covers you if you allow someone who isn’t on your policy to drive your car with your permission.

Whether you’re commuting to work, conducting errands, or taking a trip, your auto coverage only covers personal driving. If you use your automobile for business activities, such as delivering pizzas, it will not provide coverage.

If you use your automobile to offer transportation to others through a ride-sharing service like Uber or Lyft, your auto insurance will not cover you. However, several motor insurers are also offering (at an additional fee) supplemental insurance packages that provide coverage to vehicle owners who provide ride-sharing services.

Is autoinsurance a legal requirement?

State-by-state auto insurance requirements differ. If you’re getting a car loan, your lender may have additional criteria. Almost every state mandates that car owners have these:

  • Bodily injury liability pays the expenses of injuries or deaths caused by you or another motorist while driving your vehicle.
  • Property damage liability – this covers damage to another vehicle or property caused by you or another driver operating your car. 

Furthermore, many states mandate that you carry these:

  • Medical payments or personal injury protection (PIP) reimburses medical expenses if you or your passengers are injured. It will also refund missed wages and other costs associated with the situation.
  • Uninsured driver coverage reimburses you if an accident is caused by a driver who does not have auto insurance. It also covers if a hit-and-run occurs. Underinsured motorist coverage, which pays for expenditures if another driver does not have enough insurance to cover the costs of a significant collision, is also available.
  • Even if personal injury protection (PIP) and uninsured motorist coverage are optional in your state; consider adding these to your policy for added financial security.

What are the most common types of autoinsurance coverage?

While most basic legally required auto insurance covers damage caused by your vehicle, it does not cover damage to your car. Consider the following optional coverages for your car:

  • When you’re at fault, collision coverage compensates for damage to your car caused by a collision with another automobile or an object (such as a tree or guardrail).
  • While collision coverage does not cover mechanical failure or normal wear and tear, it covers damage caused by potholes or rolling your automobile.
  • Comprehensive coverage covers theft and damage. It covers damage from incidents such as fire, flood, vandalism, hail, falling rocks or trees, and other perils, even an asteroid strike.
  • Glass Coverage protects you from the typical occurrence of windshield damage. Glass coverage with no deductible is available on some auto policies, and it covers side windows, rear windows, and glass sunroofs. However, you can also purchase additional glass coverage.

What is gap insurance? Do I need it?

Collision and comprehensive insurance only cover the market worth of your automobile, not the price you paid for it, and new cars depreciate rapidly. There could be a “gap” between what you owe on it and your insurance coverage if your vehicle is stolen or totalled. To cover the difference, you may want to consider obtaining gap insurance. Lease payments often include gap coverage.