Auto Insurance - Coverage 101 & Quick Tips

Whether you're driving a new car, a certified pre-owned vehicle, or an older used or collectible car, you'll need to purchase an auto insurance policy before you take to the road. However, the specific kind of insurance, as well as the coverage amounts and options, can vary depending on your needs, comfort zones, and the value of your vehicle.

To help better understand a bit more about auto insurance, it might help to first learn some of the most common terms.

Allstate customers in their protected vehicle

What is a premium?

Your premium is the amount you usually pay either once or twice a year, or in installments throughout the year.

What is a deductible?

Your deductible is the amount of money you've agreed to pay out-of-pocket if you make a claim covered by your purchased policy.

A lower deductible means you'll be spending less out-of-pocket (should you need to make an auto claim), and your insurance company would likely be covering more of the repair costs after an accident. So a lower deductible means a higher premium (to offset that added coverage). By the same logic, increasing your deductible can usually help bring your premiums down.

Here's an example. Let's say you get into an accident, and the repairs to your car are going to cost $1,500. If you've set your deductible at $500, then you'll pay the first $500, and your auto insurer would likely pay the remaining $1,000 to get your car fixed and back on the road. (If there are potential situations that could be an exception on your policy, you should talk to your agent about what that could be.)

Alternately, if your accident results in, say, $500 worth of damage (or less), you'll pay for all of the repairs, as those costs fall within the amount of your set deductible.

State Law Requirements & the Coverage You Choose

As a licensed driver, you're required by state law to carry auto insurance. The minimum amount of coverage a driver is required to carry by law is what's known as the "Financial Responsibility Limit" for your state. Coverage initially required by state laws may not reflect all of the coverage that you might require, which is why state-required minimum limits could leave you less protected than you want to be.

To learn more about what's required in your state, click here.

Let Allstate's Virtual Insurance Guides Provide Even More Tips

With Allstate's online, interactive guides in Allstate's Bumper-to-Bumper® Basics, you can choose a guide to help talk you through some of the things you need to know about car insurance, and possibly help target the level of auto insurance coverage that may be right for you. It can also reveal valuable discounts and savings, help you pinpoint your state requirements, and show you what other people like you are buying.

And if you want to gather more information on how switching to Allstate might save you money, you can try:

Published: June 2011

Savings will vary. Allstate Insurance Company, Allstate Indemnity Company, Allstate Property and Casualty Insurance Company, Allstate Fire and Casualty Insurance Company, Allstate New Jersey Insurance Company, Allstate New Jersey Property and Casualty Insurance Company, Allstate County Mutual, and Northbrook Indemnity Company. © 2011 Allstate Insurance Company. Northbrook, IL.

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