auto insurance information

Vehicle insurance (also known as auto insurance, car insurance, or motor insurance) is insurance purchased for cars, trucks, and other vehicles. Its primary use is to provide protection against losses incurred as a result of traffic accidents and against liability that could be incurred in an accident.

In the United States, auto insurance covering liability for injuries and property damage done to others is compulsory in most states, though different states enforce the requirement differently. The state of New Hampshire, for example, does not require motorists to carry liability insurance (the ballpark model), while in Virginia residents must pay the state a $500 annual fee per vehicle if they choose not to buy liability insurance. Penalties for not purchasing auto insurance vary by state, but often involve a substantial fine, license and/or registration suspension or revocation, as well as possible jail time. Usually, the minimum required by law is third party insurance to protect third parties against the financial consequences of loss, damage or injury caused by a vehicle.

One common misconception in the United States is that vehicles that are financed on credit through a bank or credit union are required to have “full” coverage in order for the financial institution to cover their losses in the case of an accident. While most states do require additional coverage to be purchased, some such as Pennsylvania only require Comprehensive and Collision to be purchased in addition to liability and not “full” coverage. Vehicles bought on cash or have been paid off by the owner are generally required to only carry liability. In some cases, vehicles financed through a “buy-here-pay-here” car dealership in which the consumer (generally those with poor credit) finances a car and pays the dealer directly without a bank also only require liability coverage.

Several states, like California and New Jersey, have enacted “Personal Responsibility Acts” which put further pressure on all drivers to carry liability insurance by preventing uninsured drivers from recovering noneconomic damages (e.g. compensation for “pain and suffering”) if they are injured in any way while operating a motor vehicle.

Some states, such as North Carolina, require that a driver hold liability insurance before a license can be issued.

Coverage Levels

Vehicle insurance can cover some or all of the following items:

  • The insured party ( medical payments )
  • The insured vehicle ( physical damage)
  • Third parties (car and people) ( property damage and bodily injury)
  • Third party, fire and theft
  • In some jurisdictions coverage for injuries to persons riding in the insured vehicle is available without regard to fault in the auto accident (No Fault Auto Insurance)

Different policies specify the circumstances under which each item is covered. For example, a vehicle can be insured against theft, fire damage, or accident damage independently.

Information compiled from Wikipedia

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