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On the right sidebar of this page, you will find links to personal insurance articles, including more Virginia Auto Insurance Information resources. Click on any of the Virginia personal insurance categories to learn more about specific insurance issues and coverages or call one of insurance agents at Insurance & Financial Services for more information on what coverages are available.
You can buy Virginia personal auto insurance in numerous ways today. You can purchase it online at hundreds of websites. You can call the auto insurance company directly and buy it over the phone. Or you can call a local insurance agent like Insurance & Financial Services. There are literally hundreds of insurance companies that sell auto insurance coverage in your area, so it’s not surprising you can buy it in so many ways. But how do these companies differentiate themselves? Some companies brag about their superior customer service when you have a claim. Some brag about how quick and easy it is to buy from them. And, often, auto insurance companies try to compete on price, just as if you were buying a plane ticket or a soda.
What you will learn in the Virgnia Auto Insurance Information Page
Tip. Some people think auto insurance is just a commodity, but it’s not.
You aren’t buying a soda. You are protecting your financial well-being, and the insurance choices you make affect the rest of your life. If you believe car insurance is just a commodity, consider this: A person who has a good driving record can pay two, five, or even ten times less than a driver with several tickets, an accident, or a DUI conviction. A person living in a major city – like Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, or Denver – will pay two, three, even five times more than someone who lives in a rural area or small town, even though they have the same driving records.
Auto Insurance: How Much Should You Buy?
Most states, Virginia included, require you to purchase personal auto insurance, but they don’t require you to buy very much. In states that have mandatory auto insurance laws, you are only required to purchase a small amount of liability coverage. Liability coverage is so you can pay for some of the damage your car does to other cars and other people who are not in your car.
Tip. The minimum insurance amount required in most states is not much. Seriously consider purchasing more coverage in order to protect your financial well-being.
Note. Mandatory auto insurance laws do not require you to purchase coverage for damage to your own car, your own injuries, or for damages caused to your car by someone who doesn’t have insurance at all.
If you purchase the minimum coverage required, you are leaving your assets at risk. Your car. And your home, if you are at fault in an accident that causes serious injuries to other parties. How far do you think $5,000 will go if you total someone’s brand new Lexus? Not far at all!
Six Distinct Coverages in an Auto Policy
Many people who have auto insurance don’t have enough to cover the damages and injuries that would result from a major collision. If you don’t have this coverage, often referred to as UM/UIM, you are taking a huge risk. UM/UIM provides coverage for any injuries that you suffer if you are hit while walking or riding a bicycle by a driver who has not enough or not insurance.
There are Even More Coverages Available…
There are some additional coverages that you can purchase. You can buy towing coverage, which will pay the costs if your vehicles needs to be transported after an accident. You are a member of an auto club or AAA, you don’t need this coverage. You can purchase rental reimbursement coverage, which will pay for a rental car while your vehicle is being repaired. (If the accident was not your fault, the cost of the rental car is automatically picked up by the other person’s insurance company.)
What are the different options for these coverages? While there are six main coverages in a personal auto insurance policy, there are many options to consider for each coverage. How Much Insurance Do You Need?
You can purchase the minimum required by Virginia law, $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. Or you can purchase higher limits as high as $500,000 or even $1 million. Someone you hit can sure you for everything you have.
Tip. If you own a home, have stock, and earn a decent income, you should probably buy, at minimum, limits of $100,000 per person, $300,000 per accident. If you own more than $300,000 in assets, it would be wise to purchase higher limits or even an umbrella policy. Consult your insurance professional about this!
Most personal auto insurance companies now sell what are called combined single limit (CSL) coverages, which have no per-person limit. If you purchase $300,000 CSL, that means your policy will have a maximum payout of $300,000. This could go to one person if needed. Some companies even include property damage in the CSL, which means that if you total someone’s antique car, your policy could pay up to $300,000 for property damage. CSL coverage costs more than traditional limits, but it is worth the extra expense if you own significant assets.
Tip. Many insurance agents think CSL is important to have, so they strongly urge their clients to purchase CSL limits when available.
Years ago, $25,000 was considered the maximum most people needed to purchase of this coverage. But not anymore. There are many vehicles on the road today that are worth $50,000 or more.
Tip. Because there are so many expensive cars on the road these days, you should seriously consider purchasing at least $50,000 of property damage liability coverage.
Think about how much you can afford to pay out of pocket to fix your car in the event of an accident. There are many deductible options in a personal auto insurance policy.
Note. A deductible is the amount you pay before the insurance kicks in. You can purchase collision deductibles of $100, $250, $500, or $1,000. The lower the deductible, the more expensive this coverage costs.
Unless you are planning on having a lot of car accidents, it’s probably a good idea to have a deductible of at least $250. Remember, the collision deductible does not apply if someone else hits you and their insurance is used to pay for the damages to your car.
Like collision, comprehensive coverage also has a deductible, though it is often lower. For example, if you have a $500 deductible for collision, your comprehensive deductible will be $100.
Note. While collision and comprehensive coverages will pay for damage or loss to your car, neither coverage will pay for everything on or in your car. Most auto insurance policies exclude items like CB radios, car phones, CDs and cassettes.
If you add special features to your pickup, van, or SUV, these items will likely be excluded as well. In fact, it is important to speak with your insurance agent about any high-tech equipment or special features you have added to your vehicle. Most of these features aren’t covered in a standard auto policy, but it is possible to purchase special coverage for add-on equipment. Ask your insurance agent about your options.
Medical payments is sometimes called Personal Injury Protection. Some people elect not to purchase this coverage because they think their health insurance coverage is enough. This is true – to an extent.
Note. Unlike your health insurance, medical payments coverage can reimburse you for your income lost as a result of injuries suffered in an automobile accident. However, it is not nearly as comprehensive as most health insurance plans. Medical payments coverage, which usually costs less than $100 per year, is a good purchase for most people.
Medical payments coverage also provides protection for passengers in your vehicles for medical expenses incurred and income lost due an accident.
For many people, it is a good idea to match your UM/UIM limits with your Bodily Injury Liability limits. Remember, UM/UIM coverage is for you. It pays for your injuries and, in some policies, damage to your car if the person at fault in an accident with you cannot. Since it is smart to base your liability limit on what you have to lose, you should do the same with the UM/UIM.
All of the coverages in your personal auto policy apply when you are driving your vehicle, but they also apply when other people are driving your vehicle. The coverages are actually for the car, not the person.
Note. If someone is going to a regular operator of your vehicle, they need to be listed on the auto policy.
Your insurance company wants to know who is going to be driving your vehicle. After all, you could be a great driver with no tickets or accidents, but your spouse, your teenage child, or your reckless cousin could be a terrible driver. If you let these people drive your car without telling your insurance company and these people keep getting in accidents, your insurer isn’t going to be happy. In fact, they may cancel your policy.
Tip. It is not smart to risk losing your auto policy for failure to disclose who is driving the insured vehicle. Keep in mind, however, that if you add drivers with poor driving records or who have little driving experience, your insurance premiums will rise.
Any parent of a teenage driver can tell you this; teenagers are notorious for getting tickets and having accidents. They are also extremely inexperienced drivers. As such, when your child gets his or her license, your insurance premiums will rise when he or she is added to the auto policy. If you purchase all six of the major auto insurance coverages, your policy will cover you in most scenarios in which you cause damage or injury to your car, yourself, your passengers, or other drivers and other vehicles. But not all.
Note. The standard personal auto insurance policy has some exclusions. Exclusions are perils that are not covered in your personal auto policy. Here are some examples where your auto policy won’t provide coverage:
Important Question: What are You Using Your Vehicle for?
You can get sideways with your insurance company because you haven’t been totally honest about how you are using your vehicle. For example, do you drive your car to work? If so, your insurance will cost more than if you take mass transit. In fact, the further you drive to work may increase your insurance costs.
*Example. If you have an accident while driving your car to work, but you haven’t told your insurance company that you drive your car to work, the insurance company is not obligated to provide coverage for this accident and could cancel your auto policy.
Honesty is the best policy when it comes to insurance. Insurance fraud is huge problem in the United States. Claims are frequently padded with nonexistent damages. Accidents are staged and injuries are faked.
*Fact. It is estimated that fraud accounts for as much as 25 cents to 30 cents of every auto insurance premium dollar. Think about that! If even half of the auto insurance fraud in this country was wiped in the next year, you would pay 12% to 15% less for your next auto policy.
Personal Car for Business, Company Car for Personal Use
Do you use your personal vehicle for business? Do you have access to the company car? If the answer to either question is yes, you may have potential coverage gaps.
Example. If you use your personal car for business, it is possible that your employer is providing some coverage through their commercial auto policy. In most cases, the coverage is for liability only, and this coverage typically only applies when the limits on your personal auto policy are exhausted. This is called “excess” coverage.
Tip. You should talk to your employer about what, if any, coverage is available to you through the company’s commercial auto policy If you have an accident while on company business, you know who to call.
If you use your personal car for regular business purposes – trips, visiting clients, etc. – your personal auto policy probably provides enough coverage for these activities. (Assuming you have “enough” coverage to begin with. But what if your personal car is actually a source of revenue? You make deliveries, for example. You likely need a commercial auto policy as well.
Note. If you have an accident while delivering product or using your car as a taxi, your personal auto insurance company can deny your claim. Talk to your insurance professional to make sure that you have coverage for all the business activities you use your vehicle for.
What about company cars? If you use the company car for business and pleasure, you may have a problem – especially if you don’t have a car of your own, because you probably don’t have an auto policy of your own. If you don’t have a car or personal auto insurance and use a company car for pleasure, you are taking a huge risk.
Tip. If you are in this situation, you should have what is a called a non-owner personal auto policy.
A non-owner personal auto policy can also come in handy if you don’t own a car but your rent a vehicle on a trip. Your non-owner auto policy will cover you and your rental car if you have an accident. Otherwise, you can purchase coverage from the rental car company, but that can be extremely expensive.
Tip. You can also have coverage gaps if your spouse or children use the company car for pleasure. Find out from your employer the extent of coverage that is available for your company car. Once you know what is covered, talk to your insurance agent about any additional coverage you may need.
Insurance and Financial Services, Inc. is a full-service independent agency representing many top-rated companies in Virginia. We assess risks and shop companies to find the best coverage for your price range. Our clients get the best value for the insurance they need.
A few of the insurance companies we represent include: Aetna, American Modern, Anthem, Blue Cross Blue Shield, BTIS, Cigna, CNA, Dairyland, Foremost, Gainsco, Grange, Liberty Mutual, Mercury, National General, Progressive, Starr DoveTail, State Auto, Stillwater, Tapco, Travelers, and many more.
Call, request a quote by email, or visit us at our office today for a free, no obligation risk assessment and quote. Let us do the research and shopping to find you the best value for your Virginia personal insurance needs.