By Contributing Author on Friday, October 2, 2009
A few years back I was driving on a snow covered highway when I caught the sight of an SUV in my rearview mirror coming straight at me. I yelled out to the other passengers in my car to “brace yourselves we’re going to be rear ended!” No sooner had we been hit when the driver of the other car did the unspeakable – he drove away. Luckily no one in my car was hurt. I later found out that after the car that hit me drove off, he hit a second vehicle. The driver of these hit and runs was driving without insurance.
The number of uninsured motorists driving on roads and highways had been going down until recently. While unemployment rose, the number of people who can’t afford insurance also rose according to a study completed by the Insurance Research Council. In 2007 the top 5 states with the highest percentages of uninsured motorist were (5) Florida at 23%; (4) Oklahoma at 24%; (3) Alabama at 26%; (2) Mississippi at 28% and (1) New Mexico at 29%. Shocking as this may seem, 30 other states also have double digit uninsured drivers and these numbers are expected to rise in 2010.
While more people are on the road without insurance, the burden falls onto those who are making their payments. The insured will increasingly find themselves paying for the damage done to their own car as well as paying more in the form of higher premiums. But the alternative isn’t any better and can leave you wide open for a whole set of problems, both legally and financially.
Individuals and families looking to save money during the recession can find ways to their lower insurance premiums without putting themselves in legal or financial jeopardy. Do a little research on your own before making changes to your current policy. Every state has its’ own requirements for insurance coverage, you’ll want to determine what the minimum amount of insurance is that is required by your state before you begin looking for savings. Required coverage varies but the most common: Bodily Injury Liability; Property Damage Liability and Collision and Comprehensive. Some states require Personal Injury Protection or Medical Payments (Medpay).
Keep in mind that having minimum coverage won’t protect you from being sued by the other driver should the damage and injuries to the other driver exceed what your policy pays. A policy with inadequate coverage won’t protect you from paying out of pocket for expenses not covered in your policy.
Another consideration for those of us living in a state with a high number of uninsured drivers is having a policy that covers both the Uninsured and the under insured motorist coverage. In most cases this coverage includes protection against a hit-and-run driver or bike and pedestrian accidents.
Here are a few policy items that are worth paying a little extra for. Rental Car Reimbursement pays while your car is in the repair shop after a collision. If you live in an area where snow removal is a seasonal reality consider Full Glass coverage. Auto glass is expensive and an errant stone can ruin a $500 windshield in the blink of an eye. Gap Insurance is great for brand new cars because it covers the difference between the amount you owe and the worth of the car according to the insurance company. For more information on GAP Coverage contact an AutoNation Finance Associate.
So where can you lower your insurance payments? If you already have separate health, life and disability policies, you may be able to forgo Personal Injury Protection. Check your other policies first, but chances are good that these sort of expenses are already covered. Collision and Comprehensive are two more areas you may be able to save money. Consider this: If the cost of your collision and comprehensive is more than 10% of your car’s Blue Book value or your car is approaching 5 years old, consider dropping this coverage and saving a little dough. Keep in mind though, if you eliminate these coverages you’ll have to foot the repair bill should you get in an accident that’s your fault, or if your car is totaled or stolen.
Other ways to save money on your car insurance: Look for discounts. Do you qualify because your job is considered a low-risk occupation? Are you a member of any professional organization or AAA? By combining your insurance policies with the same company you can get a discount on your premiums as well as renewing your policies with the same company. If you’re willing to assume more risk, you can get a discount. There are also discounts for having a good student and being a good driver, and don’t forget senior citizens discounts. Shop around and ask your agent for other discounts.
I would love to hear from you about other ways drivers can protect themselves and save money at the same time!
~~ Opinions Of A Backseat Driver