Often customers are looking for the least expensive premium without completely understanding the Risk Exposure and Coverage provided in the policy. This article looks at coverage and attributes of it that impact your auto insurance premium.

Liability coverage provides for damages due to bodily injury to others involved in the accident including cost associated with defense and court costs, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and loss wages. Property loss coverage provides for damage to other vehicles in an accident plus damage to light poles, guardrails, etc. Personal injury protection (PIP) provides the insured party with coverage for medical expenses, loss of income, and essential services resulting from an accident for up to 3 years. Uninsured motorist provides coverage for damages when an underinsured or uninsured driver causes an accident.

Comprehensive provides coverage for a car that is stolen or damaged by causes other than collision, such as fire, wind, hail, flood, earthquake, theft, vandalism, or hitting by a bird or other animal.

Collision provides coverage when a car is damaged by collision with another object or car.

The dollar value of your coverage depends on the risk your willing to assume. Maryland minimums are $30,000/$60,000 liability, which means $30,000 for each person in the accident and $60,000 for the total accident and $15,000 for property damage. Uninsured motorist coverage matches the liability and property coverage. PIP coverage typically starts at $2,500 and escalates to $10,000 or more. You will need to evaluate your risk exposure to determine how much you need. Typical coverage is $100,000/$300,000 liability, $100,000 property damage, and $2,500 PIP. If your net worth is high, it is a good idea to secure significantly higher coverage amounts or to secure a personal umbrella policy that adds a minimum of $1 million dollars of coverage to your auto and home liability coverage.

Most insurers will collect and evaluate pertinent information about you and your vehicles to arrive at a policy premium. The several pieces of information affect the premium including your coverage level, driving record, credit rating, gender, marital status, location where vehicle is garaged, and the year, make, and model of your automobile. For the most economical premium choices, we recommend that you protect your insurance DNA … meaning your driving record and credit.

Bryant K. Jenkins

Special to the AFRO