Auto insurance is not a one size fits all policy

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 18, 2010

Each year, more cars and drivers hit the highways. With so many vehicles on the road, crashes will happen.

Automobile insurance can be the difference between a minor inconvenience an a major hassle.

But why do you need insurance and just how much should you buy?

Auto insurance protects you by paying for damages or injury you cause others while driving your car, damage to your car or injury to you or your passenger in your car from a crash, plus certain other occurrences, such as theft.

Auto insurance is required by law in all states and provinces. Coverage requirements vary by state and province, but usually include the following.

Liability

It pays for damage due to bodily injury and property damage to their for which you are responsible. Bodily injury damages include medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering. Property damage includes damaged property and loss of use of property. If you are sued, it also pays your defense and court costs. State law usually mandate minimum amounts, but higher amounts are available and usually recommended.

Personal injury protection

This is required by some states and is optional in others. It pays you resulting from a crash, regardless of who may have been at fault and is often called no-fault coverage. It may also pay for lost earnings, replacement of services and funeral expenses. State law usually sets a minimum amount.

Medical payments

This coverage is available in states without no fault coverage; it pays regardless of who may have been at fault. It pays for an insured person’s reasonable and necessary medical and funeral expenses for bodily injury from a crash.

Collision

This pays for damage to your car caused by collision.

Comprehensive

This applies if your car is stolen or damaged by causes other than collision, including fire wind, hail, flood of vandalism.

Uninsured motorist

This pays damages when an insured person is injured in a crash caused by another person who does not have liability insurance or by a person who cannot be identified (usually a hit-and-run driver).

Underinsured motorist

This pays damages when an insured person is injured in a crash caused by another person who does not have enough liability insurance to cover the full amount of the damages.

Other coverages, such as emergency road service and car rental is also available.

What you pay for auto insurance will vary by company and will depend on several factors including what coverage you select, the make and model of the car you drive, your driving record, your age, sex and marital status and where you live.

Many people think of auto insurance as a necessary evil, but it can save your financial well-being.

Evaluate your needs, do your research and with the help of your insurance agent make the decision that best suits you.

Stuart Heflin is a Natchez-based insurance agent with State Farm Insurance. He can be reached by calling 601-442-9138.