Do I need extra auto insurance?

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Here's what you need to know...
  • In most circumstances, you’ll need more insurance than the minimum your state demands.
  • Common “extras” include glass, comprehensive and collision coverage.
  • Less popular “extras” come down to personal preference when deciding whether to include them on your policy.

It’s true that buying car insurance can sometimes be a lot like buying a pizza. You have a whole menu of items to choose from and different preferences about what’s good and what’s not.

When it comes to all those little car insurance extras, do we really need them? Is it worth spending the extra money for glass coverage, identity theft protection, and roadside assistance? After all, things like roadside assistance can come from a membership in AAA.

Shopping online for car insurance rates can be made a bit easier by entering your ZIP code into our FREE search tool above right now.

The entire purpose of purchasing car insurance is to protect yourself, your passengers, and other drivers involved from financial loss as the result of an accident. That being said,

The most basic policies don’t go nearly far enough when compared to the cost of healthcare, vehicle replacement, and civil litigation awards.

Most of us would be wise to carry higher limits than the law mandates, if not at least some of the extras being offered.

What is “basic” coverage?

Young woman on a road trip.

In every state, motor vehicle law requires drivers to purchase car insurance before they can legally operate their vehicles on the road. While it’s true that some states allow you to be self-insured rather than purchasing a policy from a company, you still must provide proof of insurance before you can legally drive.

A basic car insurance policy is one that provides a minimum of coverage allowed by law in your state. Typically, you’ll need to carry coverage for bodily injury, property damage, and uninsured/underinsured drivers.

Because state laws are different, it’s impossible to say how much of each type of coverage you’ll need. For example, some states require that you carry a minimum of $50,000 coverage for bodily injury to yourself or your passengers, while other states mandate just $30,000.

Likewise, some states require coverage for uninsured/underinsured drivers while others don’t. You can find out what’s required in your state by checking with your state’s DMV.

What are the “extras” that a car insurance company offers?

The variety of available extras is as numerous as the different types of cars on the road. Typically, however, there are some common extras offered by almost all insurance companies. Among them are collision, comprehensive, and glass coverage.

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  • Glass coverage – We’ll start with this since that’s the easiest one. This coverage pays to replace your windshield or any of the other windows in your car regardless of how they were broken. It’s a great extra to have because it costs next to nothing and it could potentially save you hundreds of dollars in glass replacement if you ever need it.
  • Collision coverage – Collision insurance pays to repair or replace your car following an accident on public roads.
  • Comprehensive coverage – Comprehensive insurance covers the exact same types of damage as collision coverage when caused by anything other than a car accident. Neither type protects personal belongings that were in the car at the time the damage was done.

Do I need collision or comprehensive coverage?

Transparent piggybank with coins and red car

This is one of the most debated questions in the realm of car insurance. Right off the bat, we must tell you that you may be required by law in your state to purchase both collision and comprehensive if you still have an outstanding loan on your vehicle.

Even in states where it’s not required by law, lenders will often force you to have this type of coverage in order to protect them against loss. Even if neither condition exists, you’d be foolish to not carry these extra coverage options if you still have an outstanding loan.

Beyond the issue of a car loan, you may also want collision and comprehensive if you drive an extremely expensive vehicle. For individuals driving a ten-year-old clunker that can be replaced for less than a thousand dollars, this extra coverage isn’t worth it.

But if you’re driving a luxury vehicle that could cost tens of thousands dollars to replace, not carrying collision and comprehensive makes no sense.

It’s a good idea to carry extra insurance than the minimum the law requires on vehicles you don’t have out-of-pocket money to replace.

What about the other extras?

Other extras such as identity theft protection and roadside assistance are really up to your personal preferences. Insurance companies are offering these extras more than they ever did before because they’ve discovered them to be an easy way to raise revenue.

These companies aren’t necessarily being dishonest, but they’ve found that by selling these extras they stand a greater likelihood of making a profit on a policy. It’s up to us, as customers, to decide whether or not the cost of these extras is worth it in the long run.

Whether you’re searching for basic coverage or a policy with all the extras, your search for car insurance rates online begins when you enter your ZIP code in the box below.

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