Our vehicle is usually the largest depreciable asset that any of us owns. It behooves us to ensure that this asset is protected against any calamity that may occur.
As with many other things, cheaper is not necessarily better when it comes to insurance; and as complicated as insurance can be, we recommend purchasing your policy through a licensed agent who can help decode the fine print that is endemic in any insurance policy, and who can ensure that you and your vehicle are properly and sufficiently protected.
In our experience, we frequently see people that have neglected to consider some or all of the following points when buying their automotive insurance policy:
- Uninsured Motorist Coverage : Despite laws in Washington and most other states requiring insurance coverage if you are driving, a staggering number of people do not have insurance coverage on their vehicle. Uninsured motorist coverage is relatively cheap and financially protects your vehicle in the event of an accident with an uninsured motorist.
- Gap insurance : Provides financial coverage of the dollar difference between the value of your vehicle and your loan balance in the event that your vehicle is written off as a total loss after an accident. With vehicle loans routinely having 72-month durations, it is not uncommon to actually owe more money than your vehicle is worth for a period of time in the beginning months or years of that loan. Gap insurance is a very cheap way to protect yourself from having to continue making loan payments on a vehicle that has been totaled.
- Rental Coverage : In the event of an accident that is your fault or that comes under the comprehensive portion of your policy, it is nice to have 30 days of rental car coverage provided. Another inexpensive adder to your basic policy.
- State of Washington mandated minimum coverages in an insurance policy are $25,000 bodily injury, $50,000 total liability and $10,000 property damage. We believe these limits are substantially lower than most people should have in order to be properly protected. Talk to your agent about higher limits.
- The insurance policy that you purchase is utilized approximately every 8.1 years. Think of it this way: You are buying a product that you may use every 8 years. Don’t you think it might be nice to know how the product is going to work before you use it? Check with family, friends and body shop personnel to find out which insurance companies actually do provide the services that they have committed to provide.
- Many insurance companies are now writing language in their insurance policies that permit them to specify the use of aftermarket parts in the repair of your vehicle, even for vehicles only six months old. In addition, some companies are writing policy language that permits them to specify which repair facility you must use to repair your vehicle. We believe that both of these policy provisions usurp your rights as a consumer and are generally not in your best interests.
Bottom line: Read your policy and understand its terms and conditions–certainly not the most fun you can have on a Saturday night, but it might save you aggravation and money if you ever have to use it!