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Optional Auto Insurance Coverage

There are a many forms of automobile insurance outside of typical, state mandated liability coverage: Medical Payments Insurance, Personal Injury Protection (referred to as “PIP” – covers a broader area, such as lost wages, funeral expenses, and pain and suffering), Collision, Comprehensive, Gap Insurance, Uninsured and Under Insured Motorist.


Medical Payments Insurance – This type of insurance coverage pays for medical bills (for you or anyone else) up to a certain amount arising from the use of your vehicle regardless of fault. Theoretically, because it pays regardless of fault, the insurance would cover your medical expenses if you were to crash your car into a fencepost. This type of insurance is usually sold in increments of $1,000 to $5,000. The coverage extends to your immediate family members (who reside in your household) while they are passengers in another person’s car, and would cover medical expenses regardless of the other driver’s own insurance policy. Medical Payments Insurance is also referred to as “MedPay”.


Personal Injury Protection – “PIP” insurance covers the “named insured” along with members of his or her household who are related by blood, marriage, adoption, and/or foster and step children. PIP covers medical expenses for injuries sustained in an auto accident up to three years after the date of the incident. In addition to medical expenses, PIP can also cover lost wages, funeral expenses, and loss of services (payment to others for work you can’t do). Similar to MedPay, Personal Injury Protection will cover your medical expenses regardless of driver fault.


Collision – This optional form of insurance pays for damage to your car in an auto accident even if you’re the at fault driver (such as crashing your car into a tree or a telephone pole). Collision insurance would also cover repairs to your car when you are involved in an accident and the other driver does not have liability coverage. Although collision does cover repairs to your car regardless of the situation, there are limits to the amount of repairs: your insurance company is only required to pay the difference between the salvage value of your car and the pre-accident cash value of your car. Let’s say your car is worth $10,000 and the salvage value is $1,000. In this example, your insurance company is only required to pay up to $9,000 in repairs, regardless of what you think the value of your car is. Collision insurance does have an optional “replacement cost coverage” for new or vintage cars. This additional coverage provides for the replacement cost of the new or vintage car. Although not required by any state, lenders and leasing companies will typically require clients to carry Collision Insurance.


Comprehensive – This type of insurance is very similar to Collision Insurance; the major differing factor is that Comprehensive covers damage to your vehicle by an “unknown entity” or “an act of God”. In addition to an auto accident, areas of coverage include the following: vandalism, hurricane, flood, theft, and fire. Your insurance company is only required to pay up to the fair market value of your car minus your policy’s deductible. Although not required by any state, lenders and leasing companies will typically require their clients to carry Collision Insurance.


Gap Insurance – This insurance pays for the difference between what one owes on a vehicle, and what the insurance company claims your car is worth. For example: you owe $15,000 on a car and you somehow manage to total the car in an accident. Your insurance company determines your car is only worth $13,000, so that is all they will pay. You’re now stuck paying off a $2,000 loan for a car that no longer exists. Gap insurance would normally cover that $2,000 difference. There are some limitations and restrictions for Gap Insurance. For example: Gap Insurance is typically unavailable on older cars and not all insurance companies will offer it. It’s best to check with your insurance company to get the full details on Gap Insurance coverage.


Uninsured and Under Insured Motorist – Just like the title states, this type of insurance covers you and your vehicle in case the other driver is not properly insured and he or she is determined to be at fault. Not all states require this type of insurance, but a handful do. It’s recommended that you purchase this coverage because if you are involved in a fender-bender with an uninsured motorist, it is highly unlikely you will receive any payment for damages to you or your vehicle if the other driver is at fault and uninsured or under insured. UM/UIM is generally affordable and can be purchased in varying amounts of coverage.


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