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Vehicle insurance in the United States

Insurance

By Hafees RiyasPublished about a year ago 6 min read
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Vehicle insurance in the United States
Photo by Alessio Lin on Unsplash

Vehicle insurance in the United States (also known as car insurance or auto insurance) is designed to cover the risk of financial liability or the loss of a motor vehicle that the owner may face if their vehicle is involved in a collision that results in property or physical damage. Most states require a motor vehicle owner to carry some minimum level of liability insurance. States that do not require the vehicle owner to carry car insurance include Virginia, where an uninsured motor vehicle fee may be paid to the state, New Hampshire, and Mississippi, which offers vehicle owners the option to post cash bonds (see below). The privileges and immunities clause of Article IV of the U.S. Constitution protects the rights of citizens in each respective state when traveling to another. A motor vehicle owner typically pays insurers a monthly fee, often called an insurance premium. The insurance premium a motor vehicle owner pays is usually determined by a variety of factors including the type of covered vehicle, marital status, credit score, whether the driver rents or owns a home, the age and gender of any covered drivers, their driving history, and the location where the vehicle is primarily driven and stored. Most insurance companies will increase insurance premium rates based on these factors and offer discounts less frequently.

Insurance companies provide a motor vehicle owner with an insurance card for the particular coverage term, which is to be kept in the vehicle in the event of a traffic collision as proof of insurance. Recently, states have started passing laws that allow electronic versions of proof of insurance to be accepted by the authorities.

Coverage generally

Consumers may be protected by different levels of coverage depending on which insurance policy they purchase. Coverage is sometimes seen as 20/40/15 or 100/300/100. The first two numbers seen are for medical coverage. In the 100/300 example, the policy will pay $100,000 per person up to $300,000 total for all people. The last number covers property damage. This property damage can cover the other person's vehicle or anything that you hit and damage as a result of the accident. In some states you must purchase Personal Injury Protection which covers medical bills, time lost at work, and many other things. You can also purchase insurance if the other driver does not have insurance or is under insured. Most if not all states require drivers to carry mandatory liability insurance coverage to ensure that their drivers can cover the cost of damage to other people or property in the event of an accident. Some states, such as Wisconsin, have more flexible "proof of financial responsibility" requirements.[1]

Commercial insurance for vehicles owned or operated by businesses functions quite similar to private auto insurance, with the exception that personal use of the vehicle is not covered. Commercial insurance pricing is also usually higher than private insurance, due to the expanded types of coverage offered for commercial users.[2]

Insurance providers

In the United States in 2017, the largest private passenger vehicle insurance providers in terms of market share were State Farm (18.1%), GEICO (12.8%), Progressive Corporation (9.8%), Allstate (9.3%), and USAA (5.7%).[3] Insurance is secured either by working with an independent insurance agent or with an insurance broker who is authorized to sell insurance policies. Some can represent from several agencies, or a growing number of online brokers who provide policy purchases through online sites.[4]

Liability coverage

Further information: Liability insurance

Liability coverage, sometimes known as Casualty insurance, is offered for bodily injury (BI) or property damage (PD) for which the insured driver is deemed responsible. The amount of coverage provided (a fixed dollar amount) will vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Whatever the minimum, the insured can usually increase the coverage (prior to a loss) for an additional charge.

An example of property damage is where an insured driver (or 1st party) drives into a telephone pole and damages the pole; liability coverage pays for the damage to the pole. In this example, the drivers insured may also become liable for other expenses related to damaging the telephone pole, such as loss of service claims (by the telephone company), depending on the jurisdiction. An example of bodily injury is where an insured driver causes bodily harm to a third party and the insured driver is deemed responsible for the injuries. However, in some jurisdictions, the third party would first exhaust coverage for accident benefits through their own insurer (assuming they have one) and/or would have to meet a legal definition of severe impairment to have the right to claim (or sue) under the insured driver's (or first party's) policy. If the third party sues the insured driver, liability coverage also covers court costs and damages that the insured driver may be deemed responsible for.

In some states, such as New Jersey, it is illegal to operate (or knowingly allow another to operate) a motor vehicle that does not have liability insurance coverage. If an accident occurs in a state that requires liability coverage, both parties are usually required to bring and/or submit copies of insurance cards to court as proof of liability coverage.

In some jurisdictions: Liability coverage is available either as a combined single-limit policy or as a ssplit-limitpolicy:

Combined single limit

A combined single limit combines property damage liability coverage and bodily injury coverage under one single combined limit. For example, an insured driver with a combined single liability limit strikes another vehicle and injures the driver and the passenger. Payments for the damages to the other driver's car and for injury claims for the driver and passenger would be paid out under this same coverage.

Split limits

A split limit liability coverage policy splits the coverages into property damage coverage and bodily injury coverage. In the example given above, payments for the other driver's vehicle would be paid out under property damage coverage, and payments for the injuries would be paid out under bodily injury coverage.

Bodily injury liability coverage is also usually split into a maximum payment per person and a maximum payment per accident.

The limits are often expressed separated by slashes in the following form: "bodily injury per person"/"bodily injury per accident"/"property damage". For example, California requires this minimum coverage:[5]

$15,000 for injury/death to one person

$30,000 for injury/death to more than one person

$5,000 for damage to property

This would be expressed as "$15,000/$30,000/$5,000".

Another example, in the state of Oklahoma, drivers must carry at least state minimum liability limits of $25,000/$50,000/$25,000.[6] If an insured driver hits a car full of people and is found by the insurance company to be liable, the insurance company will pay $25,000 of one person's medical bills but will not exceed $50,000 for other people injured in the accident. The insurance company will not pay more than $25,000 for property damage in repairs to the vehicle that the insured one hit.

In the state of Indiana, the minimum liability limits are $25,000/$50,000/$10,000,[7] so there is a greater property damage exposure for only carrying the minimum limits.

Rental coverage

Generally, liability coverage purchased through a private insurer extends to rental cars. Comprehensive policies ("full coverage") usually also apply to the rental vehicle, although this should be verified beforehand. Full coverage premiums are based on, among other factors, the value of the insured's vehicle. This coverage, however, cannot apply to rental cars because the insurance company does not want to assume responsibility for a claim greater than the value of the insured's vehicle, assuming that a rental car may be worth more than the insured's vehicle.

Most rental car companies offer insurance to cover damage to the rental vehicle. These policies may be unnecessary for many customers as credit card companies, such as Visa and MasterCard, now provide supplemental collision damage coverage to rental cars if the rental transaction is processed using one of their cards. These benefits are restrictive in terms of the types of vehicles covered.[8]

Maine requires car insurance to rent a car.

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About the Creator

Hafees Riyas

I have been in this writing field for five years and am continuing my work which includes novels, horror stories, and magazines.

www.tamiltrickshunter.com

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