INSURANCE auto insurance

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1 INSURANCE auto insurance

2 our mission The mission of The USAA Educational Foundation is to help consumers make informed decisions by providing information on financial management, safety concerns and significant life events.

3 table of contents Know Before You Go Types Of Coverage The Costs And Value Of Coverage What Drives Your Premium Costs? Discounts Equal Savings

4 know before you go Heading out to work or on a long road trip? So what s the most important thing you should do first... check the tires? Change the oil or get a tuneup? See if your brakes and other major mechanical systems are up to speed? Vehicle maintenance is always a priority. But another important item to review is a copy of your current auto insurance policy. Knowing what kind of coverage you have and whether it fits your needs and your driving habits is the best way to take to the roadways, no matter how far or near you re traveling. Use this guide to quickly locate tips, ideas and information about personal auto insurance so you can keep going with the right protection for you and your family. Protect your identity from a collision with fraud In case of an accident, NEVER exchange anything more with the other driver than your name and insurance company contact information. Personally identifying details such as a driver s license number, birth date, or home address can be used to initiate identity or other theft. If a police officer completes a report at the scene of an incident, ask that any copy of the report be provided only to you and the authorized insurance agents. 2

5 Insurance company check-up RULE OF THE ROAD... First things first: whether you drive a four-door sedan or a two-door pick-up truck, so long as the vehicle you re insuring is used for personal purposes, your coverage may be generally referred to as auto insurance so that s what you ll see in our guide as well to keep things consistent with industry terms. If you're in the market for a new policy on a car or truck purchase or modifying your policy because of a change in your family status like adding a teen driver to your policy there are a few things the Insurance Information Institute (III) recommends you keep in mind as you research insurance companies. State-licensed? Not every company is licensed in every state so make sure the carrier you choose is licensed appropriately especially if you move frequently. Know whether you re required to have insurance issued by a licensed carrier based on whether your vehicle will be registered there or you have a driver s license issued by that state s department of motor vehicles. This is especially important if you have college students who are included on your policy but may attend school out-of-state and need to purchase a vehicle there. Price-competitive? You d be surprised at the cost variation from one company to another so get quotes from at least three insurers and compare coverages item by item. Customer-oriented? Insurance claims should be promptly handled and service provided according to the policy you ve purchased. Ideally, your insurer should have nationwide claims representatives available 24/7 for your convenience even if you purchased your coverage from a local agent. Consumer Reports, at consumerreports.org, has unbiased reviews of companies that include customer feedback about service and responsiveness. Fiscally sound? Four independent agencies A.M. Best, Fitch, Moody s and Standard & Poor s rate the financial strength of insurance companies. Note that these agencies may differ in their rating from one to another so it s wise to check at least two before making your decision. But you always want to choose a reputable and established carrier. Don t be tempted by what appears to be very low-cost coverage often, the benefits are equally reduced and you run the risk of spending more in the long-term. Check out the Insurance Information Institute at iii.org for more details about how to choose the best carrier for your needs and budget as well as the requirements specific to your state s laws. 3

6 4 types of coverage

7 Auto insurance Designed to protect you against financial loss if you have an accident involving another vehicle or an incident such as theft or damages from a hailstorm or other weather event. By pooling the risks of many drivers so you don t have to incur the full cost of a claim, insurance calculates your premiums based in part on its own loss experience as well as that of the entire industry. Your policy is like a contract between you and your insurer; you agree to pay the premium and the insurance company agrees to pay your losses based on your individual policy. When choosing coverage, remember don t spend more to cover expenses you can afford to pay out of pocket use your premium dollars wisely to obtain coverage that addresses more costly events. IT S PERSONAL Insurance policies can be as customized as the personal vehicles they insure. Typically, your policy will include some basic coverages that are similar from one company to the next although the limits and costs may vary. Remember, that if you use a van or small truck for commercial purposes and your license plates carry this designation, you ll need to purchase the appropriate coverage for commercial usage, so be sure to contact your insurer for more details. 5

8 Your coverage your choices What makes up a basic auto insurance policy? Depending on where you live, you may have to maintain minimum limits of liability coverage to comply with state laws that apply to operating or owning a vehicle. It s important to understand what your specific state or, if applicable, what your vehicle finance company may stipulate and if you are buying or leasing your car or truck. These factors can all affect the type of coverage you purchase. Liability Bodily Injury: Applies to injuries that you or someone driving your car with permission causes to someone else and is required by law in every state in order to operate a motor vehicle. In addition, this provides coverage for you and any family members designated in the policy when driving someone else s car with their permission. Each state has a minimum liability coverage limit so make sure you know what your state requires! And you may want to consider increasing this amount to fully protect yourself in the wake of a serious accident. In addition, liability coverage: Can pay for any legal defense fees. May be purchased in amounts up to $1 million. Usually sold in split limits and written as a series of three numbers; for example, $100,000/$200,000/$50,000 means your coverage includes $100,000 in bodily injury liability coverage per person with up to $200,000 per accident, and $50,000 in property damage per accident. For state-specific amounts, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants publishes a list of minimum coverages at 360financialliteracy.org Property Damage: Pays for damage you (or someone driving your car with your permission) may cause to an individual s property, whether it s another vehicle or even physical structures such as buildings, telephone poles and similar objects. To help you determine the amount of liability coverage you need, outside of your state s requirements, consider your age, income, assets and ability to pay a higher premium. The more coverage you get, the more you ll need to spend each month. Keep in mind too that an accident may end up costing more than your insurance will cover if you are guilty of negligent or drunk driving or seriously injure or kill another motorist or passenger. Want extra protection? Umbrella liability coverage may be available for amounts above and beyond the limits of your regular policy and in situations the policy doesn t ordinarily include. Check with your insurer for specific details and costs. 6

9 Medical Payments or Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Available for the treatment of injuries to the driver and/or passengers of the policyholder s auto or truck. PIP, also known as No-Fault Insurance, may cover medical payments, lost wages and other expenses including funeral costs for someone injured or killed in a vehicular accident including you or another covered driver on your policy and any passengers. Medical Payments and PIP may also cover injury to you or family members if injured by a car as a pedestrian or while riding a bicycle. No-Fault Insurance expedites payments to accident victims and potentially reduces the number of lawsuits among motorists. However, it does not preclude you or your family s ability to sue in most instances if the accident results in serious injuries or fatalities. The coverage provides for reasonable medical bills and/or funeral expenses as well as lost wages but does not cover pain and suffering. If you carry health insurance, sizable life and disability insurance and your state does not require you to have PIP coverage, make sure you really need this additional product. NOTE: Pain and suffering is not based on a set value and is instead determined by the nature of any injuries, amount of medical and other bills, any legal precedents and at the discretion of the insurance claims adjuster. Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist: Reimburses you, a member of your family, or passengers in your car for damages related to an accident involving an uninsured or hit-and-run driver, providing payment for medical bills, lost wages and other losses due to pain and suffering. Underinsured motorist coverage protects you when an at-fault driver doesn t have enough insurance to pay for your damages. Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage varies from state to state and may include coverage for damage to your property as well as medical and related costs. Vehicle Coverage Collision: Pays for damage, up to the actual cash value (ACV) unless otherwise indicated, and repairs to your car or truck resulting from a collision with another vehicle or object (excluding animals). Generally sold with a deductible of $250 to $1,000, collision coverage may be required if you are financing the lease or purchase of your vehicle. And remember the lower the deductible or the amount you would have to pay for each claim, the higher your premium. So keep that in mind too when choosing a plan. Comprehensive: Provides reimbursement for loss due to theft or damage caused by something other than a collision, such as fire, vandalism, flooding, hail or collision with an animal, a car as a pedestrian or while riding a bicycle. Optional Coverage There are several additional coverage options that you may elect to include on your policy such as: Rental car reimbursement this may provide a set allowance each day for the duration of your vehicle repair as part of your claim. For example, you may be allowed $30 a day for the cost of a rental car and use that toward the cost of renting something that actually costs $40 a day and incur the difference yourself. Or, it may provide for the rental of a certain type of car, such as an economy or full size vehicle. Towing and labor covers some of the cost involved in towing your vehicle to a repair facility, locksmith fees, fuel delivery, tire-change, and jump-starts. However, if you have roadside assistance available through your vehicle warranty or a separate auto club membership, you may not need this coverage. Gap insurance covers the difference in what your vehicle is worth and what you owe. Given the fairly quick depreciation of any vehicle the minute you leave the dealer s lot, the III recommends you consider some kind of gap protection if you: made less than a 20% down payment; financed for 60 months or longer; leased the vehicle; purchased an auto or truck that depreciates faster than the average; or rolled over negative equity from an old car loan into the new loan. Best advice? Talk to your insurer or financial adviser before purchasing any policy and especially any optional coverage. You want to be prepared but not to the degree you re overinsured and duplicating protection. And remember if an accident involves another individual (including a passenger in your vehicle) or another individual s property, you MUST report it even if you do not file a claim. If you do not report the incident and the other driver later sues you for injuries or damages, your insurer would be at a disadvantage in defending you against the claim. You could also be denied future coverage in addition to incurring the financial loss from a lawsuit. So no matter how small the accident, exercise caution and contact your insurance company right away. 7

10 the costs & value of coverage There are a variety of factors that go into determining your final cost for having auto insurance, some of which you may expect such as your driving record and others, like your credit history, that may be somewhat of a surprise. It helps to know what goes into determining your premiums and how it can affect the amount of coverage you purchase. 8

11 Deductible details Deductibles are applied to: Claims paid for damage to your car in the event of an accident, whether you or another driver are responsible. You can generally choose a deductible, or the amount you would have to pay toward each claim, of $250 to $1000 the higher your deductible, the lower your premium for collision and comprehensive coverages. Note that the deductible amount does not apply to liability insurance which is a mandatory coverage in all 50 states; state-specific requirements can be found for your area at your Department of Motor Vehicles or Public Transportation offices or website. You can also go to the National Association for Insurance Commissioners website at naic.org/state_web_map.htm to view an interactive map with links to resources in your particular state. Theft of your vehicle. If your vehicle is stolen and not recovered, comprehensive coverage will pay you up to the vehicle s actual cash value (ACV) prior to being stolen or damaged less your deductible. Total loss of your vehicle due to a collision or other qualified event. Just like a loss incurred by theft, your collision and comprehensive coverage pays you up to the vehicle s ACV only. Depreciation of your car or truck, or the decrease in the value of your vehicle or its parts due to wear, tear and age, accounts for the reduction in payment to you for any claim. Insurers can only reimburse you for the determined value of your vehicle at the time of the incident a five-year old sedan with 45,000 miles is not going to be valued at the same amount as a brand new vehicle of the same make and model. The benefits of deductibles and depreciation? Using a deductible can eliminate the cost of processing small claims. And by applying depreciation to your vehicle, insurers can ideally provide collision and comprehensive coverage at lower premiums. Customization adds up to custom coverage. Those custom features that make your car a standout in any parking lot could also mean customized auto insurance and higher premiums. When talking to your insurer about a new or updated policy, be aware of any additional costs to fully cover your valuable vehicle! So choose your deductible wisely if you can afford the out-of-pocket cost for smaller repairs, you may be able to save more money in the long run with lower monthly premiums. And remember that as your vehicle ages and its value subsequently declines, so does the amount you will collect for a total loss to your vehicle. Consider whether you really need collision and comprehensive coverage on an older vehicle. 9

12 What drives your premium costs? You d expect your driving record to be considered when either renewing an existing auto insurance policy or getting new coverage for an additional vehicle or driver in the family. But did you know that there are a number of other factors that your insurer could take into account in determining how much or how little you may pay or if you are even eligible for coverage? According to the Insurance Information Institute, your carrier may use some or all of these items in their decision-making process or even ones that are not listed here so it s always good to ask and be prepared to address any concerns. 10

13 Your driving record Drivers with a history of accidents or violations or inexperience behind the wheel may have to pay higher premiums for a specified period. Vehicle use If you drive a great many miles each year on business, plan to spend more on your coverage. Generally, the more you drive, the greater chance you have of being involved in an accident. Age The youngest drivers in your family will be subject to higher premiums typically up to age 25 and depending on their driving record during that time. Gender Males typically pay more for coverage, because they incur a greater number of and more serious accidents as well as more drivingunder-the-influence (DUI) incidents. Location Where you live affects your premium costs urban dwellers pay more for increased crime and number of accidents than residents of rural areas. Certain geographic locations such as entire cities or states may also be subject to higher rates due to the number of uninsured motorists. Type of vehicle Variables include the likelihood of theft, the cost of the car, the cost of repairs, and the overall safety record of the vehicle make and model. Plan to spend more for your insurance, for example, if you opt for a fully loaded sports car over a modestly priced sedan. Type and amounts of coverage The more insurance you carry, the higher the premium. Minimum liability limits are set by state law while your lender or lease holder may also impose set limits to comply with their rules. It s important to carry enough coverage to fully protect not only your vehicle but also your other assets in the event of a significant accident. Your insurer can best advise you as to what types of coverage fit your budget and needs. Credit This is one factor that often comes as a surprise to many drivers credit-based insurance scoring can predict whether you are more likely to file a claim and the cost of that claim. Credit-based insurance scores are based on information like payment history, bankruptcies, collections, outstanding debt and length of credit history. While this isn t a single reason for denying coverage, it is an important consideration for many insurers in determining your premium. For military service members According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, if you will be deployed for an extended period of time and no one will be driving your vehicle stateside, you may be able to suspend some or all of your coverage to save on premium payments. Not all states or all insurance companies allow for coverage to be suspended and be aware that if you still owe money on your vehicle, your lender may impose a costly single-interest coverage for damage to the vehicle that s added to your total loan payment. So you should always contact your insurer and lender as to any specific laws and policy limitations. For more information, go to naic.org and search military topics or check out military.com for other relevant news and helpful ideas. 11

14 discounts equal savings 12

15 When shopping for auto insurance, it pays to look at a variety of carriers to compare costs as well as any statespecific available discounts to help reduce the costs of your premiums. The Insurance Information Institute recommends you ask about discounts for: Automatic Payments discounts for automatically recurring payment arrangements. Anti-theft Devices Auto and Homeowners Coverage with the Same Company (Multiple Policies) College Students Away from Home for students who do not have a vehicle at school. Window etching for safety and savings To etch or not to etch or should you consider having the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) of your car or truck etched in the window glass? Unlike the traditional VIN plates installed on the dashboard, window etching is permanent and makes it much more difficult to alter your car s identity if it s stolen. Talk to your insurer about any applicable policy discounts and check with your local law enforcement agency to see if free etching is ever offered in your community. Defensive Driving and Drivers Education Courses must be state-approved course. Good Student applies to drivers under age 25 who are enrolled in school and have a B/3.0 GPA. Long-Time Customer (in good standing) Multiple (more than one) vehicles No Accidents in Three Years No Moving Violations in Three Years Vehicle Safety Equipment includes airbags, antilock brakes, daytime running or adaptive lights, emergency response systems and more. 13

16 access more free educational materials today Buying A Vehicle Distracted Driving Families Dealing With Deployment can help you look out for the best interests of your family or an organization with free educational information. Financial Planning & Goal Setting Life After The Military Managing Credit & Debt Planning Your PCS Protecting The Elderly From Fraud & Abuse Protecting Your Identity Safe On The Road The Effects Of Aging On Driving Skills Visit usaaedfoundation.org to download digital versions or to order up to 250 printed copies of select publications or videos. Please call (800) if you would like more than 250 copies. There is no charge for shipping. Some titles are not available in print. 14

17 FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE VISIT: usaaedfoundation.org 15

18 This publication is not intended to be, and is not medical, safety, legal, tax or investment advice. It is only a general overview of the subject presented. The USAA Educational Foundation, a nonprofit organization, does not provide professional services for financial, accounting or legal matters. Applicable laws are complex, the penalties for non-compliance may be severe, and the applicable law of your state may differ. Consult your tax and legal advisers regarding your specific situation. The USAA Educational Foundation does not endorse or promote any commercial supplier, product, or service. The Department of Defense, its military branches (Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard) and other governmental agencies do not endorse or favor any of the information, products or services contained in this publication. USAA is the sponsor of The USAA Educational Foundation. The USAA Educational Foundation is a registered trademark. The USAA Educational Foundation All rights reserved

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