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Car insurance comparison: Coverage types



Liability insurance covers the damage you do to others, including vehicle damage and injuries. If you don’t have enough, you’ll be on the hook for paying the remainder. 



Comprehensive and collision

Comprehensive coverage pays for specific problems like car theft and damage to your vehicle from hail, floods, fire, vandalism and hitting animals. Collision coverage pays for damage to your vehicle if you hit another car or an object like a pole. 


Uninsured motorists

This pays for injuries to you and your passengers if you’re hit by someone who has no insurance or not enough insurance. There’s also uninsured motorist coverage for car damage in some states. 

PIP and MedPay     

PIP and MedPay

Personal injury protection (PIP) and medical payments (MedPay) coverage pays for injuries to you and your passengers no matter who caused the accident.

Ways to get cheap car insurance

Tips for comparing auto insurance quotes

Decide on the coverage you want. Choose the coverage you want before you get quotes, so that you can get quotes for the exact same insurance levels. You'll want make a car insurance comparison that reflects the same levels of liability insurance and other options, such as comprehensive, collision, rental reimbursement and so on. If you're buying comprehensive and collision coverage, choose a deductible (such as $500 or $1,000) for all your quotes. If you change your mind later about coverage levels you can always ask for new quotes.

Have information handy when you request quotes. The quote process will go faster if you have this information ready:

  • Your driver's license
  • The dates of any past accidents, auto insurance claims and moving violations (such as speeding tickets) -- usually at least a few years back
  • The car's VIN number (or the year, make, model and body style of your vehicle)
  • Current vehicle mileage
  • Address where vehicle is "garaged" (basically, where you park it when you're home)
  • Current insurance carrier and policy expiration date -- or past insurer if you don't have insurance now
  • Who else will be listed on the policy, such as a spouse or teen driver
  • Your policy "declarations page" -- the page that lists your current coverage. This is handy if you want to get car insurance quotes for the same coverage you have now.

Don't be distracted by long lists of discounts. Every auto insurer offers discounts, and they vary among companies. But don't assume that an insurer with a long list of available discounts will offer the best final price. It's also common for insurers to cap the total possible discount. Compare the bottom line price you get among companies.

Don't wait until the last minute to start comparing. Getting car insurance quotes is free and easy, but last-minute shopping could lead you to make an impulse decision on coverage or company. Give yourself at least a few days to comparison shop.

What determines car insurance rates?

Here are the factors that typically go into auto insurance quotes, and why:

Your age and gender, along with others on the policy. Car insurance rates are usually at their highest until age 25, when they begin to decline. You may get the best rates in your 40s and 50s -- assuming you don't have other factors that push rates up, like speeding tickets. Auto insurance rates often start to creep up again in your 60s. Some insurers also use gender as a predictor of claims.

Other information about you. Whether you're married, own a house or have a college degree can all affect your chances of getting cheap car insurance. Use of these factors vary by insurer.

The vehicle. Insurers look at the claims history of the vehicle model. That means the claims they've paid to owners of the same model as yours. Think of it this way: If other people who own a vehicle like yours crash a lot, it affects the rates for other owners. Your vehicle choice can also lead to safety discounts.

Past claims, at-fault accidents and moving violations. To auto insurers, past problems are a predictor of future problems, including claims and tickets. They'll price the policy with an eye toward the future.

Credit. Many auto insurers see a correlation between credit and the chance you'll make a claim. Thus in most states they can charge more to folks with poor credit. (The practice is banned in California, Hawaii and Massachusetts.) Insurers typically use a special credit-based insurance score for this.

How you use the vehicle. This includes whether you drive for business and daily commuting distance. If you drive for a business you might need a commercial auto policy, which is more expensive.

Coverage choices. Every coverage you increase or add will add to cost. If you're buying comprehensive and collision insurance, choosing a higher deductible will lower a car insurance quote.