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BUYER’S GUIDE: Purchasing Car Insurance

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There’s more to buying a car than getting a good deal. Once you find the car and make it yours, there are other long-term costs, including car insurance.

Figuring out the car insurance puzzle can be almost as complicated as figuring out which car to buy in the first place.

Even if you already have insurance, the constant ads from competing providers are likely to make you wonder if you’re getting the best deal with the right coverage. Read on to learn more about car insurance and make sure you have the policy that’s right for you.

Understanding The Lingo

An insurance policy contains some universal terms that you’ll see no matter the company you choose. Here’s an explanation of key terms you’ll see listed in your policy.

Bodily Injury

This covers any medical expenses incurred by the people involved in an accident when you are at fault. It includes medical fees and any additional damages for those who were injured.


This covers vehicle damage that wasn’t due to an accident. Vandalism, fire, theft, or a tree falling on your car all come under this area.


Damage to your vehicle due to an accident falls under your collision coverage. If you hit another vehicle, a fence, or a building, then collision coverage comes into play.

Looking for a new or used car? Check out BestRide’s listing search here.

Watch the Deductible

Your deductible is the amount you pay before your insurance kicks in to pay for expenses. There are separate deductibles for collision, comprehensive, and bodily injury.

You can opt for different deductibles to change how much you pay for your policy. The higher the deductible, the lower your policy premium.

It is tempting to go with a higher deductible to get a lower policy rate, but do this very carefully. Saving a little on your policy now could backfire if you end up paying thousands when you’re involved in an accident.


Cover All Drivers

You know the policy covers you when you’re driving your car, but that might not be enough.

Households with multiple members usually get one policy that covers the family. It’s more affordable than taking out separate policies for each vehicle and makes sure you’re covered no matter who drives which car.

The complication comes when you’re involved in an accident driving someone else’s car or when someone else is involved in one while driving your car. Each insurance policy treats this situation differently.

Inquire about how your policy handles these situations and make sure you know the risk you’re taking if you drive outside of coverage limitations. You might not think it matters, but that one time your friend needs to borrow your car and wrecks it could cost you big if you’re not careful.

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What Does the State Require?

How much insurance you get isn’t entirely your decision. Each state determines what types of coverage are required by law and the minimum dollar amount of coverage.

You’re free to choose higher coverage amounts, and in fact, most people do. But that’s entirely up to your needs and your budget. The one constant is that you can’t simply say no to car insurance.

Since it’s required by law, that little insurance card they send shouldn’t be tossed in the trash. Keep it along with your registration.

Whether you’re pulled over for a traffic violation or involved in an accident, you’ll need that proof of insurance to show that you are obeying the law.

What’s Your Job?

It might not seem like your line of work should matter when it comes to car insurance, but it plays a big part in how much you’ll pay.

Every policy considers the number of miles you put on your car each year. The more you drive, the greater your chances of being involved in an accident. High-mileage drivers will pay more for their car insurance so a long commute can cost your more than just extra gas.

Beyond that, how you use your car for work is also considered. Insurance policies often won’t cover you while you’re driving your car as part of a sales job or for delivering products. You can still drive your car, but if anything happens, you’re going to foot the bill.

If you have a job that requires the use of your car beyond driving into the office every morning, then make sure your policy covers that work-related driving. Even if your job changes during the middle of the policy period, you have to adjust your coverage as soon your situation changes.

Rideshare driving for Uber and Lyft requires a policy that fills in the gaps of the coverage provided by those companies, and this varies by state. For instance, California is host to companies like Metromile that offer a rideshare policy, but these products are still filtering to all of the US states.

If such a policy is not available in your area, then carefully weigh the risk of being a rideshare driver, as your personal policy may not cover you or your car if there’s an accident when the app is on.

Looking for a new or used car? Check out BestRide’s listing search here.

Ask About Discounts

There are all sorts of discounts offered to get you to choose one company over another. Ask about what each company offers to see if you can get a better deal.

Often there are discounts for putting multiple insurance policies with the same company. This includes auto insurance, boat insurance, and homeowner’s insurance. Putting all these policies with one company could save you money.

Discounts are also offered for having certain safety features on your car. Make sure you know exactly what your car has and be ready to give that information to the agent when you contact them for a quote.

There are also discounts for good students, which can really help when you have young drivers who are more expensive to insure. Even your job can get you a better rate since some jobs traditionally carry lower risks than others.

How you pay can also get you a discount. Sometimes you’ll save a few dollars by authorizing an automatic withdrawal from your checking or charge to your credit card. You can also save by paying annually or quarterly instead of monthly.

The huge number of possibilities mean you have to ask each company exactly what they offer. If you don’t ask, then there’s no way to know exactly what’s available.

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How Is My Car Repaired?

You might think the only thing you need to worry about is having coverage in case of an accident, but that’s only half of the picture. How your insurance company repairs your vehicle is also an important part of your coverage.

There are new parts and used parts, and which your car gets depends on your insurance. You may pay a higher premium to get new parts for your car, but it’s the better choice. No one wants a 10-year-old part on their three-year-old car.

Make sure that the kind of part they use doesn’t change over time. Some policies will cover new parts when a car is new but switch to used parts as the car ages. Make sure you keep an eye on this one as your car ages and those policy renewals arrive in the mail.

Consider Roadside Assistance

Depending on where your car breaks down or where an accident happens, you could be in for a nasty towing bill if it’s not included in your policy. Roadside assistance is also valuable when you don’t need a tow, just help to change a tire or jump a dead battery.

Check to see how much your insurance company charges for this service and check to see exactly how much they cover. If the roadside assistance isn’t available 24/7 or towing covers only very small distances, then it might not be worth the cost.

Also, check to see what is offered by the automaker when you buy a new car. Many offer this type of service for a limited period when you buy your car, so you might not have to pay for it at all.

Looking for a new or used car? Check out BestRide’s listing search here.

Nicole Wakelin

Nicole Wakelin