When it comes to protecting yourself, the best bet is to err on the side of caution and be a little more liberal with the limits of an automobile policy where they really count. In fact any good insurance agent worth their salt will tell you that you should buy as much car insurance as you can afford. While this is a good guideline it doesn’t really help you. The advice is about as useful as a stockbroker’s tip to buy low and sell high. It might be good basic advice but it doesn’t get you any closer to an informed decision. Stick with me and I’ll attempt to explain the process of buying the right car insurance in easy laymen terms.
To begin with, the portion of auto insurance that really comes into play when you have an accident involving other people and/or property is the liability coverage and/or bodily injury protection.
In many states, this coverage is the law. This is smart, very smart. But, and this is where the confusion starts, the problem is the required limits are often very low. This leaves the door open in the event of a major crash that the other party will come after the driver directly for any damages over and above the policy limits.
Let me illustrate: If you live in a state where the minimum liability requirement is for example, $40,000, that’s all the insurance will cover in a crash. It might sound a lot but that means that if another person’s injuries are severe or property damage is extensive, the actual costs can be very much greater. You’ll find that the $40,000 doesn’t go very far and is not nearly enough.
To give you an idea of what sort of problems this can cause, just check the price of an average one-night stay in a hospital. It is not cheap. This means the person involved in the crash or the owner of the property might come after you for the difference. This can and does happen.
You can be prepared for this kind of situation by protecting yourself and your assets in a crash by simply increasing the limit on bodily injury coverage and liability insurance. So instead of taking that basic $40,000 limit, go for $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident instead. Surprisingly the cost difference of the insurance policy isn’t that big but the savings down the road in the event of an accident can be great.
Here is something else to consider: While it’s not always the case, a higher limit policy can give a lawyer leverage on your behalf after an accident. More often than not, the other party will be willing to settle for the limit of the policy. This is good news for you and can keep you out of court. But, if the policy you have is low on coverage, then they might not be so keen to settle. What you will usually find instead is that they will opt to sue you directly, something you really don’t want to have happen.
Hopefully I have given you a few things to think about. While having too much insurance is a waste of money, not having enough can lead to tragic events, which will have effects on the rest of your life. If you are wise you will protect yourself and your assets in the event of a crash by making sure a reasonable amount of coverage is provided.