First, there was you. You had a car and an insurance agent and a policy for one. Then, you got married. You added a husband and his car and a policy in both of your names. Next came the kids and fortunately, it took a while for them to be old enough to drive. Now, you have a teenage driver fresh out of driving school, and another with her learner's permit. Your insurance needs just got considerably more complex. So, where do you start?
Let's begin with the coverage you have to have. Bodily injury liability covers any people involved in the accident and property damage covers the other person's car as well as any property that you damage with your car. And then, uninsured motorist coverage will protect you against a hit-and-run driver or someone who simply doesn't have insurance. It differs from state to state on how much coverage you're required to have, but you'll need to be covered on all of these items for all drivers in your family. If your net worth is on the higher side, you may want to max out the limits to minimize the possibility of another driver coming after your personal assets in a lawsuit.
Another option to consider is collision and comprehensive coverage. In a nutshell, this covers damage to your car regardless of what caused the accident. If you have any newer cars in the family, it would behoove you to buy this coverage. But, if you have an older car in your fleet and the cost of the coverage equals 10 percent of your car's blue book value or less, you may as well cancel it because you'll be paying more than the car is worth. You can also get additional coverage such as personal injury protection and medical payments coverage. Personal injury makes up lost wages and provides in-home care after an accident if it's needed, while the medical payments option covers the medical bills you or your passengers rack up regardless of who is at fault.
Tips for Buying an Auto Insurance Family Plan
Now that you know about the different standard coverage options, you can start to figure out what exactly you need to adequately cover your family. The trick is finding a policy that fits into your monthly budget. It's important to know that rates for auto insurance policies can vary widely based on factors concerning your family's driving history. Fewer incidents typically yield a lower premium on policies, but it's always worth it to shop around.
One factor that will immediately influence your monthly premium is the size of your deductable, which is your out of pocket expense for any auto incident. If you choose the highest deductible you can afford, this will lower your monthly insurance premium. Teen drivers will inevitably cost you more because this age group has the highest accident rate. But if they have a grade point average of B or better, or attend a college more than 100 miles from home and don't have a car there, you'll get a break.
The types of cars your family drives also impacts your premium. Sports cars and luxury cars inevitably will cost you more, while economy cars are considered to be safer and less expensive to fix and will be cheaper to insure. Cars with safety equipment such as air bags and anti-lock brakes will also get you a bit of a deduction. And don't forget to ask your insurance agent about grouping your home, auto and personal liability policies. This may get you a break on all of your insurance premiums.
- California Department of Motor Vehicles "Teenage Driver Crash Statistics." Dmv.ca.gov. Nov. 27, 2011. http://dmv.ca.gov/teenweb/more_btn6/traffic/traffic.htm
- Consumer Reports. "A guide to car insurance." Consumereports.org. Nov. 27, 2011. http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/cars/car-buying-advice/guide-to-new-car-buying/after-the-sale/guide-to-insurance/index.htm
- Karimi, Sabah. "How to Get Cheap Auto Insurance for Young Drivers." Wisebread.com. Nov. 27, 2011. http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-cheap-auto-insurance-for-young-drivers