17. 5 questions you should be asking about your car insurance

When it comes to shopping for full coverage car insurance, it’s worth the time and money to do a little homework before getting started. Here are five questions you should be asking potential providers about the type of car insurance you need.

1. What is the minimum coverage I need?

Knowing the minimums of coverage in your state is a good place to start. If you are leasing or making payments on a vehicle you’ve purchased, check with your lender for mandatory limits of insurance coverage as they may differ from your state requirements.

State coverage minimums are mostly focused on liability for accidents you cause, such as the damage to the other vehicle and medical costs to the other driver and passenger(s). There also may be a minimum requirement to covering uninsured or underinsured motorists. This covers damages to your vehicle if you are hit by someone without proper liability insurance.

However, this minimum coverage doesn’t take more complex insurance needs into consideration. More often than not, it’s worth it to go beyond the basics by looking into full coverage car insurance.

2. What collision and comprehensive coverage amount makes sense for me?

Consider collision coverage, and pick the deductible that makes sense for you. If you have a newer car, collision coverage is an excellent idea. It covers damages to your vehicle in the case of an accident, regardless of who’s at fault. A higher deductible of course means a lower premium, but this also means having a chunk of money set aside from your premium savings should any damage occur. Collision deductibles are offered in $250/$500/$1000 increments.

Like collision, comprehensive coverage depends on the value of your vehicle and is also offered with varying rates of deductibles. Comprehensive covers non-collision damage to your car like vandalism, or acts of nature such as fire and theft. In a nutshell, if a tree crushes your car during a storm, you have the peace of mind knowing you are covered.

3. Any other coverage options I should consider?

Personal protection coverage is an important option available with full coverage car insurance. This option covers medical expenses and lost wages to you or your passengers if someone hits you. If you're injured while riding in someone else's car, it will also cover those medical bills. Rental car coverage can also come into handy. If you’re without a vehicle due to theft or collision, a rental car is an affordable add-on coverage you’ll be glad you paid for.

4. What are the details affecting my rates?

Now it’s time to consider what factors drive up the cost of your full coverage car insurance. Contributing factors include vehicle, age, sex, marital status, location, driving record, and sometimes your employment and credit report. While these aren’t generally risks you can correct, selecting a vehicle with safety features, and keeping a clean driving record are factors you CAN take control of.

5. Do I qualify for any discounts?

Despite what some less straightforward insurance agents would like you to believe, there are plenty of discounts available to drivers. Youngsters can get a good student discount worth up to 20 percent off their premium by maintaining a B average. Those 55 and over can qualify for a discount by completing an accident prevention course approved by the applicable state’s DMV and staying accident-free following completion.

You can also save substantial money by choosing a vehicle with anti-theft, safety features and eco-friendly features. If you don’t drive all that often, let’s say under 12,000 miles a year, you’re probably eligible for a low-mileage discount as well.

Whether you already have a carrier and want to see if you can get a better rate, or you’re shopping for a new policy, it helps to ask the right questions. Keep the above five things in mind next time you’re searching online or speaking to an insurance agent. Your pocket, peace of mind and vehicle investment will be far better off.

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