Auto insurance protects you against financial loss if you have an accident. It is a contract between you and the insurance company. You agree to pay the premium and the insurance company agrees to pay your losses as defined in your policy.
An auto insurance policy is comprised of six different kinds of coverage (see more below). Most states require you to buy some, but not all, of these coverages. If you're financing a car, your lender may also have requirements. Most auto policies are for six months to a year. Your insurance company should notify you by mail when it’s time to renew the policy and to pay your premium.
An auto insurance typically contains six separate and distinct parts:
- Bodily Injury Liability - for injuries the policyholder causes to someone else.
- Property Damage Liability - for damage the policyholder caused to someone else's property.
- Medical Payments or Personal Injury Protection (PIP) - for treatment of injuries to the driver and passengers of the policyholder's car. At its broadest, PIP can cover medical payments, lost wages and the cost of replacing services normally performed by someone injured in an auto accident.
- Collision - for damage to the policyholder's car from a collision. The collision could be with another car, a light post, fire hydrant, etc...
- Comprehensive - for damage to the policyholder's car that doesn't involve a collision with another car. Covered risks typically include fire, theft, falling objects, missiles, explosion, earthquake, flood, riot and civil commotion.
- Uninsured/Undersured Motorist - for treatment of policyholder's injuries as a result of a collision with an uninsured driver. Underinsured motorist coverage can also be included in an auto policy. Underinsured motorist coverage comes into play when an at-fault driver has auto liability insurance, but the limit of insurance is inadequate to pay for your damages.