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Learn More About Automobile Coverage Options

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Types of Coverage
For your convenience, here’s a brief rundown of the different types of coverage included in a typical policy. Feel free to give us a call for help determining what the right level of coverage is for you and to get free quotes from more than 20 of the top rated insurance companies in the country.

Bodily Injury/Liability
This coverage protects you in the event that your vehicle injures someone else in an accident. This includes THEIR medical expenses, THEIR pain and suffering, and any of YOUR associated legal defense costs. The state minimum in Connecticut is $20,000 per person up to $40,000 per accident. Typically, the most you can purchase on a personal policy is $500,000. For higher limits, you would need to get a liability umbrella; these usually come in $1,000,000 increments.

Property Damage Liability
This coverage protects you in the event that your vehicle damages someone else’s property in an accident. The damaged property in question could be THEIR car, fence, tree, a telephone pole, a house, etc. This does not provide any coverage for YOUR damaged property. The state minimum in Connecticut is $10,000 per accident.

Medical Payments
This coverage pays for medical expenses to YOU and YOUR passengers if you are injured in an accident. The coverage applies regardless of whether you are at fault or not. Depending on the insurance company and policy, this coverage may also extend to cover YOU and YOUR family members if they are injured riding in someone else’s vehicle. It also may extend to cover pedestrians involved in accidents. It is a good idea to carry this type of coverage if you have a high out-of-pocket expense for doctor and hospital visits.

Underinsured/Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury
This coverage protects you and your occupants in the event they are injured in an accident. This includes YOU and YOUR occupants’ medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages. This is important coverage that is often not given enough consideration. In a perfect world, you would expect the other driver to be liable and pay if they are the at-fault party in an accident. What happens, though, if they don’t have the means to pay? What if they only carried the state defined minimums and your medical bills exceeded that? Or worse, what if they weren’t insured at all?

You are allowed to purchase up to twice the amount of your Bodily Injury/Liability coverage. For example, if your bodily injury limit was $100,000 per person up to $300,000 per accident, you can purchase $200,000 per person up to $600,000 per accident in Underinsured/Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury coverage.

Note that this coverage does not stack with the other parties’ Bodily Injury/Liability coverage. Instead, the coverage with the higher limits is used.

Underinsured Motorist Bodily Injury with Conversion
This coverage is the same as the Underinsured/Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury already described with one very key difference: it stacks with the other parties’ liability limit. This option is not available in all states. It is available in Connecticut.

Rental Car Reimbursement
This coverage provides a daily monetary allowance to pay for substitute transportation in the event that your car is involved in an accident and has to go into the “shop” for repairs. Note that this only covers you in the event of an accident and does NOT provide any coverage for mechanical failure. This is good coverage to consider if you do not have another vehicle available to you. Think about it: if you got hit by another driver tomorrow and your car needed a week’s worth of repairs, how would you get to work? How would you go grocery shopping?

Typically, this coverage is only available if your automobile insurance policy includes physical damage coverage (i.e. collision, comprehensive). It provides a daily allowance up to a specific number of days. For example, in Connecticut, most Tower automobile insurance policies that have physical damage coverage include this reimbursement with a $20 per day allowance for up to 50 days. This means that if your vehicle is damaged in an accident, the insurance company will pay you $20 per day for up to 50 days towards the cost of renting a car.

Collision Coverage
This coverage pays for physical damage to YOUR vehicle in the event of an at-fault accident or if the at-fault party cannot be located (e.g., hit and run). This type of coverage is automatically limited to the actual cash value of your vehicle at the time of the accident. This cash value is commonly referred to as the “book” value. There are a number of free resources that can be used to determine the book value of your vehicle such as the Official Kelly Blue Book, Edmunds, and National Automobile Dealer Association. The “book” value is used regardless of any repair or aftermarket work done on your vehicle. For example, if your car has a book value of $1500 and you just dropped in a $2500 engine yesterday, the most collision coverage will pay is still $1500.

It is in your best interest to know what your car is worth before deciding on whether or not to carry collision coverage. For example, if your vehicle is worth $2000 and you have a $1000 deductible, you only stand to gain $1000 in the event of a total loss. If that coverage is costing you an extra $100 per year it may not be worth carrying. Also, keep in mind that as your car ages its value declines, spare parts become harder to find, and repairs can become more costly. This could lead to a relatively minor accident resulting in a total loss meaning the car cash value is paid to you and the car is declared totaled. It is generally not in your best interest to carry this coverage on older vehicles.

Collision coverage is about 2 to 3 times more expensive than Comprehensive Coverage. You cannot have collision coverage without comprehensive coverage as well.

Comprehensive Coverage (or Other Than Collision)
This coverage pays for physical damage to YOUR vehicle caused by anything EXCEPT an at-fault accident or hit and run. This includes things like storm damage, animal damage, theft and vandalism, falling objects, flood etc. Keep in mind that it does not cover at-fault accidents at all. For example, if you are driving and hit a deer, Comprehensive Coverage would cover the damages. However, if you are driving, swerve to miss a deer, and hit a tree, you are NOT covered as this constitutes an at-fault accident and this would only be covered by Collision Coverage.

Typically, Comprehensive Coverage also comes with an optional full glass rider. This is an inexpensive rider to add to the coverage and we always recommend it for all insured vehicles. The average cost of a windshield replacement is $280 and the average cost for the back glass with built-in defroster replacement is $850. For a few additional dollars on your premium, you get full glass coverage which will replace any broken glass at no out-of-pocket expense.