What Most People Don't Know About Car Insurance

March 30th, 2016

Think you know the extent of your car insurance policy’s coverage? You might be surprised.

Auto insurance is complex. It covers many different situations and events and there’s a lot of fine print and, “ifs, ands, or buts”. The end result is that most drivers’ perceptions of what their auto insurance covers is different from the reality.

Need some proof? Here are just a few common examples:

Your car insurance policy doesn’t cover possessions

In other words, if someone breaks into your vehicle while you’re sleeping, or while you’re out shopping, don’t look for your auto insurer to reimburse you for any stolen items.

This goes for any kind of car insurance, by the way. Even if you have liability, collision, and comprehensive coverage, you’re out of luck if someone snatches stuff from your vehicle.

If you want to be protected from that sort of thing, add a rider to your homeowners insurance policy. Or make sure you have renters insurance. Both cover your possessions even when they’re not in your apartment, condo, or house.

It protects you—at least partially--from lawsuits

Don’t get too excited here. Your car insurance company won’t step in and lend a helping hand if someone sues you over something unrelated to your vehicle or to driving.

If someone takes you to court because of a traffic accident, though, your provider should pay for your attorney. Also, if you lose the suit, it should cover damages up to the liability amount specified in your policy.

It sometimes protects your pets too

If your dog, cat, or other pet is injured while out for a ride with you, check with your auto insurer. It might come to your rescue. Some policies cover a portion of the vet bills of pets that are hurt in car accidents.

This isn’t true of all insurance carriers or in all states, though, so give yours a call if you’re unsure about your situation.

Don’t worry about lending out your wheels

A lot of people who own a vehicle let a family member, friend, or even co-worker use it when the need arises. That doesn’t keep at least some of those folks from worrying they may be in trouble if their car crashes while they’re not behind the wheel.

If that describes you, you can ahead and breathe a sigh of relief now. Why? Standard car insurance policies protect you even if you’re not driving your vehicle when it gets into an accident, as long as the driver is using your wheels with your permission.

Don’t take that to mean you should allow anyone and everyone to take your car for a joy ride. After all, if you have to file a bunch of claims because of your family members’ or friends’ poor driving or decisions, your rates will go through the roof.

The takeaway here is to contact your insurance agent or carrier or, if you have the time, read through your policy, to make sure that you have the types and amounts of coverage that you think you do.