June 4, 2010

Common Misconceptions About Auto Insurance

Auto insurance is one of the most common types of insurance products purchased in the United States, and comes with a host of features that can be customized to the client’s liking. Anything from coverage type to deductible cost can be negotiated, and no two auto insurance policies ever end up being quite the same. But despite the prevalence of not only online auto insurance quotes but cars on the road, many consumers have a startling number of misconceptions about not only auto insurance but how it works for them in case of an accident. Here are a few of the most common misconceptions clients have about the car insurance industry.

First, many people assume that if their car is damaged in an accident, the insurance company will fully fix it. This is not true. An insurance policy will pay for repairs to a car up to the coverage limits laid out in the policy. Should a policy have $15,000 in property damage coverage but the cost of the repairs after an accident end up being $20,000, the $5,000 difference will be borne entirely by the policy holder. What’s more, should the cost of fixing the vehicle be more expensive than writing it off and paying the client the amount the car is listed for in the Blue Book, the car will be declared a total loss. This can happen even if the damage to the car does not reach the maximum coverage – it is the choice of the insurance company.

Consumers also often believe that a phone call to their insurance company, simply to inquire about a policy, a claim, or just for general information will result in rates being raised. This is no longer the case, as almost all states have laws which prevent them from changing rates without a specific reason. A simple inquiry does not constitute use of an auto insurance policy, and therefore no rate increases are reasonable. Some consumers are also confused by the nature of estimates after an accident. An insurance company will typically require estimates from two or three body shops before they will approve payment for work done to a car after an accident. Some drivers deliberately go to auto body shops with higher rates, receive their insurance payout, and then take the car somewhere else for a cheaper fix, pocketing the difference. This is not a clever idea, but insurance fraud. Some companies pay auto body shops directly, but all will want a copy of a paid invoice.

While an auto insurance quote can seem confusing, as can the execution of a policy, both doing research online and speaking with a company representative can help make the product less daunting.