Car insurance is a legal requirement for drivers in most states, but understanding an auto insurance policy is not an easy task. It’s important to know what your coverage includes now whether you’re choosing a new policy or you have one that you’ve never (or rarely) used, before you’re in an accident, so we’ve put together a basic explanation to help you get started.

Liability Coverage

Generally, liability coverage is the minimum required insurance. It covers accidental damage to property or personal injury caused to an accident to the other party involved in a crash but not for you, your vehicle, or your passengers.

Injury and property damage can include medical expenses, lost wages, property in addition to a damaged vehicle, or court costs, depending on your policy.

Collision Coverage

When your vehicle is damaged in a collision with another vehicle or an object, this covers the cost to repair it, up to your policy limit.

Comprehensive Coverage

If your vehicle is damaged from something other than a collision with another vehicle or an object, this covers the cost to repair it, up to your policy limit. Comprehensive coverage includes things like vandalism, theft, floods, or storm damage.

Personal Injury Protection (PIP)

Sometimes, PIP is required by law. It covers your medical costs if you’re injured in an accident.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage

If you’re in an accident with an uninsured driver and they can’t afford to pay for things like your medical costs or repair bills out of pocket, this covers it. It’s meant to cover what the other driver’s liability insurance would have covered if they had it.

Underinsured Motorist Coverage

Similar to uninsured motorist coverage, underinsured motorist coverage covers what the other driver’s liability insurance is unable to cover. If the other driver is underinsured, it means that the money they owe you is beyond their policy limit, and this policy kicks in there to make up the difference.

Other Kinds of Insurance Coverage

There are many kinds of auto insurance coverage available, and you can often choose to combine them in personalized ways. Your insurance provider can help you to understand them better!

If you are in an accident, remember that your insurance policy may or may not cover the cost of the damage, and the other driver’s insurance may or may not, depending on the policies and on the accident. However, your insurance company can never tell you where to have your vehicle repaired – that’s always up to you.

Car Insurance Coverage that Applies to Car Accidents

If you’ve been in an accident, understanding your auto insurance policy is a key part of getting through it. Unfortunately, many people don’t understand their policies, or what is covered after an accident.

Some parts of auto insurance are regulated by state laws, and can vary depending on which state your vehicle is registered in. Generally, liability insurance is required in every state, but other parts of your auto insurance coverage depend on your policy. If you aren’t sure what kind of coverage you have, read it, or ask your insurance company for a copy.

There are some common policies that might apply following car accidents in general.

Liability Insurance

Liability insurance, speaking generally, is the part of your policy that pays for damage or injuries that you cause to other people. This coverage is meant to protect you from paying for someone else’s auto repairs or medical bills.
However, there are different kinds of liability insurance that you might have listed in your policy. Look for the following specific kinds of liability insurance:

Bodily Injury Liability – This generally covers medical bills for the injured person, and can include other things like emergency aid, loss of income, funeral expenses, and more.

Property Damage Liability – If you have caused damage to someone else’s property, whether it’s a vehicle, a home, a building, or something else, this portion of your policy should help cover the cost.

Collision Insurance

Collision coverage should pay for costs associated damage to your own vehicle that were caused by collisions. In this context, a collision only refers to specific situations, like crashing into another vehicle or large object, or rolling the car. The specifics regarding collision coverage can vary, and it’s important to refer to your auto insurance policy for details.

Comprehensive Insurance

Comprehensive insurance coverage is intended to help with the cost of damage due to other things, like weather, theft, fire, natural disasters, etc. While collision coverage is quite common, comprehensive coverage is less so.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage

Although in most states, auto insurance is a legal requirement, not every driver has it, and not every insured driver has enough insurance to pay for the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle, even if they cause the damage. This portion of your policy helps you to pay for things that the other driver should be paying for, but can’t, so that you’re not stuck with a loss.