Does cat c car affect insurance
- Comparison Shop to Lower Your Car Insurance Cost
- Find the Best Car Insurance Rates
- Cost Factor No. 1: Basic Demographics
- Cost Factor No. 2: The Car You Drive
- Cost Factor No. 3: Your Driving History
- Cost Factor No. 4: Your Credit Score
- Cost Factor No. 5: Your Driving Habits
- Cost Factor No. 6: The Amount of Coverage You Choose
- Cost Factor No. 7: The Type of Coverage You Choose
- How Much Does Car Insurance Cost? A Lot — If You Don’t Shop Around
- Call to track write-offs
- How to buy a Cat D car: quick tips
Accident: A sudden, fortuitous event or an unexpected, unforeseen event, not under the control of an insured and resulting in a loss. Often used to refer to a collision or insurance event. See What to do after a car accident
Accident Forgiveness: In most states, customers who have not had an at-fault accident in the previous five years qualify for this program. Accident forgiveness means that some insurance carriers won't add a surcharge to your premium after your next at-fault accident. See Accident forgiveness: What's the catch?
Accident Frequency: The number of times an accident occurs. Used by actuaries (see definition below) to predict losses and appropriately base premiums.
Accidental Death Benefit (ADB): A supplementary life insurance policy benefit that provides a death benefit in addition to the policy’s basic death benefit if the insured’s death occurs as the result of an accident.
Act of God: Natural occurrence beyond human control or influence. Such acts of nature include hurricanes, earthquakes, and floods. See Acts of God and your car insurance
Actual Cash Value: The fair market value of property; technically, replacement cost less depreciation.
Actuary: A statistician who computes insurance risks and premiums. Actuaries keep insurance carriers profitable and financially stable by setting prices, assessing trends, and determining how much to hold in reserve to pay claims.
Additional Insured or Additional Interest: A person or an organization, other than the named insured or covered person, who is protected under the named insured's auto policy.
Adjuster: See Claim Adjuster.
Admitted Company: An insurance company authorized to do business in the state.
Adverse Carrier: Term used to refer to the other party's insurance company.
Adverse Selection: The tendency of those exposed to a higher risk to seek more insurance coverage than those at a lower risk.
Aftermarket Parts: Parts or accessories that are not a part of the original factory installed parts.
Agent: An individual who acts as a representative for the company and sells insurance, usually on a commission basis. This individual could be an 'exclusive' or 'non-exclusive' agent.
Agreed Price: The price or cost of repairs agreed to by the Auto Damage adjuster or independent appraiser and the body shop representative.Agreed Value: A type of policy available for collectible, antique or custom vehicles that do not depreciate in value as the average car does. At the inception of your policy, you and your insurance company come to an "agreed value" for your vehicle and that is what will be paid out in the event of a total loss instead of actual cash value. See Auto insurance for collectible cars
Alien Insurance Company: An insurance company incorporated under the laws of a foreign country.
Amendment: A change to the basic policy contract. An amendment alters the policy; an endorsement (see definition below) adds to it.
Anti-Lock Braking system (ABS): A computer-controlled high pressure system that assists the vehicle's normal braking system. ABS allows all wheels to slow at the same rate, thereby preventing loss of control.
Anti-Theft Device: Devices designed either to reduce the chance an auto will be vandalized or stolen, or assist in its recovery. Examples include car alarms, keyless entry, starter disablers, motion detectors, parts of the vehicle etched with the Vehicle Identification Number, and recovery systems.
Application: A signed statement by a prospective insured requested insurance. This can be signed electronically.
Appraisal: Process that determines the value of property, or the extent of damage, usually performed by an impartial expert.
Arbitration: A process of settling a dispute through an impartial party. It is used as an alternative to litigation.
Assigned Risk: A driver or vehicle owner who cannot qualify for insurance in the regular market. He or she must get coverage through a state assigned-risk plan, which specifies that each company must accept a proportionate share of these drivers/owners.
Assured: Means the same as an insured, policyholder, or someone who has an insurance policy.
At-Fault: The party that is legally liable for the damages in an accident.
Auto Damage Adjuster: The auto damage adjuster is responsible for writing the repair estimate for your vehicle. This adjuster will also answer your questions about the repair process, your rental vehicle, or your total loss settlement.
Auto Damage Division: Division of a claims department that handles auto claims.
Auto Repair/Claim Repairs: Insurance carriers have programs that maximize convenience when you have an auto insurance claim. It allows you to complete your vehicle's repair process at one location. Some CarInsurance.com carrier's claims adjusters are on site to facilitate the repair process. Rental vehicle arrangements are available on-site through a rental car agency.
Auto Theft: The theft of an auto is a type of loss that is covered under comprehensive coverage.
Automobile Insurance: A form of insurance that protects against losses involving autos. Auto insurance provides protection from losses resulting from owning and operating an auto. The insurance covers losses to the insured's property and losses for which the insured is liable as a result of owning or operating an auto.
Automobile Insurance Plans: The name for "assigned risk" plans. These are plans set up and monitored by the state to help people who are unable to secure auto insurance through standard insurance carriers. See Assigned Risk.
Automobile Insurance Premium Discounts: Discounts offered to drivers for such safeguards as air bags, seat belts, good driving record, anti-theft devices, multiple vehicles, training courses, good grades, group membership, employment or degrees, pre-purchasing, low mileage, and renewal or prior insurance.
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Basic Auto Policy: Although still used today to insure substandard risks, two-wheel motorized vehicles, and commercial autos, the Basic Auto Policy has been primarily replaced by the Personal Auto Policy, which combines both physical damage coverage and liability insurance for claims arising out of the ownership or use of a vehicle.
Binder: A temporary agreement declaring that the policy is in effect. Used in certain cases to protect a policyholder when it is not possible to issue or endorse the policy immediately.
Blue Book: A publication used for the determination of values for used automobiles and trucks. The full name of the publication is Kelley Blue Book.
Bodily Injury: An injury sustained by a person.
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Cancellation: Termination of an insurance contract before the end of the policy period, by the insured or insurer.
Car Insurance: A form of insurance that protects against losses involving cars. Car insurance provides protection from losses resulting from owning and operating a car or vehicle. The insurance covers losses to the insured's property and losses for which the insured is liable as a result of owning or operating a car.
Carrier: The insurance company or insurer.
Catastrophe: A disaster affecting a specific geographic area. Catastrophes often cause injury or even death; most result in extensive property damage. Hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, and even large hailstorms are typical examples of catastrophes.
Certificate of Financial Responsibility: Depending on the state and Motor Vehicle requirement, this is a form certifying that specific coverage has been purchased to meet the state's Financial Responsibility laws. This could be an SR-22, FR-44, SR-50, or any other State Requirement certification form.
Certificate of Satisfaction: A form signed by the insured when he or she takes delivery of the car from the repairer. It certifies that he or she is satisfied with the vehicle operations, appearance, and visible quality of the repairs.
Claim: Any request or demand for payment under the terms of the insurance policy.
Claim Adjuster: A person responsible for investigating and settling a claim.
Claimant: Individual or entity presenting a claim.
Clause: A section in an insurance policy that explains, defines or clarifies the conditions of coverage.
CLUE® Report: Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE) report; provides claim history information.
Combined Single Limit: Bodily Injury and Property Damage coverage expressed as one single amount of coverage.
Commercial Lines: Products designed for and bought by businesses. CarInsurance.com offers Business Auto Policies and Commercial Auto Policies.
Commission: That portion of the premium paid to the agent as compensation for the agent's services.
Comparative Negligence: A doctrine of law that, in some states, may enable claimants to recover a portion of their damages even when they are partially at fault, or negligent. Each party's negligence is compared to the others and a claimant's recovery can be reduced by the percentage of his or her own negligence.
Competitive Auto Repair Parts: Parts made by a company other than the manufacturer of the auto. Parts meet or exceed the quality of the manufacturer's parts, but cost less. Most insurance carriers guarantee these parts for as long as you own the car.
Competitive Estimate: A term used when an insurance company requests that you submit multiple repair estimates for consideration.
Conditions: The portion of the insurance contract which outlines the duties and responsibilities of both the insured and the insurance company.
Condo Insurance: A type of homeowner's insurance that meets the special needs of condominium owners.
Continuous Coverage or Continuous Liability Insurance: Continuous coverage refers to the length of time you have maintained insurance on your vehicle.
Contract: A legal agreement between two parties promising a certain performance in exchange for a certain consideration.
Contributory Negligence: A doctrine of law that, in some states, may prevent claimants from recovering any portion of their damages if they are even partially at fault, or negligent.
Coverage: Protection and benefits provided in an insurance contract.
Covered Person: This refers to the individuals (named insured, spouse, resident relatives, etc.) insured under a policy contract.
Customized Equipment/Special Equipment: Items not included in standard insurance options available for cars. These may include extra electronic equipment, special paint or exterior items, or amenities added to the inside of a van or truck.
Customized Vehicle: A vehicle that has been altered or has equipment or accessories not typically found in a personal vehicle.
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Damage: Loss or harm to a person or property.
Declaration Page: That page of the insurance policy which lists the insurance company, its address, name of the policyholder, starting and ending dates of coverage, and the actual coverages given in the contract, including the covered locations and amounts.
Declarations: The part of your policy that includes your name and address; the property that is being insured, its location and description; the policy period; the amount of insurance coverage and the applicable premiums.
Deductible: Usually, a dollar amount the insured must pay on each loss to which the deductible applies. The insurance company pays the remainder of each covered loss up to the policy limits.
Defensive Driver Course: These are classes either offered through or approved by Departments of Motor Vehicles to enhance driving skills. These courses may make drivers eligible for discounts on their premiums. Courses taken for traffic school because of a moving violation are not eligible.
Defensive Driver Discount: Certain drivers (usually over age 50) who have voluntarily taken a defensive driving course may qualify for this discount on their auto insurance premiums.
Depreciation: The decrease in value of any property due to wear, tear, and/or time. Generally, depreciation is not an insurable loss.
Discount: A reduction in your premium if you or your car meets certain conditions that are likely to reduce the insurer's losses or expenses. For example, auto insurance discounts are given for cars with auto theft devices and for drivers and passengers who use seat belts.
Domestic Insurance Company: An insurer domiciled in this state.
Drive-In Claims Office - Concierge Claims Service: An office or location that allows drivers to have simple, one-stop access for claims coverage.
Drive-Other-Car Endorsement: Optional coverage that broadens the definition of a covered auto to include non-owned vehicles the insured person operates.
Driver Education: State accredited educational course that consist of at least 30 hours of professional classroom instruction.
Driver Improvement Course: A voluntary refresher course available for drivers age fifty-five (55) and older to enhance their driving skills.
Driver Training: State accredited training course that consists of time spent behind-the-wheel with professional instruction.
Driver Training Discount: A discount for people who have taken an approved driver training course. This discount is not available in all states or for all individuals.
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E-Bill: An electronic version of your bill that you can review online. Most utility services and banks offer these services. Some CarInsurance.com insurance companies offer this ability.
E-Commerce/Electronic Commerce: The sale of products such as insurance over the Internet
Earned Premiums: The portion of premium that applies to the expired part of the policy period. Insurance premiums are payable in advance but the insurance company does not fully earn them until the policy period expires.
Economic Loss: Total financial loss resulting from the death or disability of a wage earner, or from the destruction of property. Includes the loss of earnings, medical expenses, funeral expenses, the cost of restoring or replacing property and legal expenses. It does not include noneconomic losses, such as pain caused by an injury.
Effective Date: The date that coverage begins on an insurance policy.
Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT): EFT is an electronic payment method that lets you pay your premiums with automatic deductions from your checking account.
Emergency Road Service Coverage: Protection for problems that are not typically handled but your auto insurance, such as: being locked out of your car, towing not related to an accident, having a dead battery re-charged, inflating a flat tire, filling an empty gas tank. (Also referred to as Towing and Labor)
Endorsement: A document, which is attached to the policy and modifies or changes the original policy in some way.
Estimate: As assessment of the cost to repair your damaged property.
Exclusion: Section of the insurance policy, which list property, perils, person, or situations which are not covered under the policy.
Experience: Can refer to many items such as driving record history or record of losses.
Experience Rating: Determination of the premium rate for an individual risk, made partially or wholly on the basis of that risk's own past claim experience.
Expiration Date: The date your coverage ends. There is usually a time of day associated with this date, for example, an expiration date of 5/1/2002 at 12:01am. This means your coverage ends one minute after midnight on the date listed.
Exposure: Possibility of loss. Insurance companies set rates based upon exposure.
Extended Non-Owner Liability: An endorsement that provides broader liability coverage for specifically named people operating any non-owned automobile or trailer. It covers non-owned autos, use of autos to carry people or property for a fee, and individuals driving employer-furnished cars who do not own vehicles themselves.
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Family Automobile Policy: Now replaced by the Personal Auto Policy, the Family Auto Policy was a package policy in which both liability and physical damage protection to an insured's vehicle was offered on one policy.
Field Adjuster: An insurance adjuster who works primarily outside of an office and often meets personally with the public. Field adjusters can conduct face-to-face meetings, negotiations with claimants, scene investigations, and damage inspections.
Financed Car: A vehicle financed by a loan. The lender retains a lien on the auto until it has been paid off.
Financial Ratings: Financial ratings reflect a rating organization's opinion on the financial strength and ability to meet ongoing obligations to policyholders. The ratings organizations most commonly identified with the insurance industry are AM Best, Standard & Poor's and Moody's.
Financial Responsibility Law: Financial responsibility laws require owners and operators of autos to maintain enough money to compensate those they injure. Liability insurance is the most common way to satisfy these requirements.
First Party: Term used to refer to an insured.
First Party Benefits: This pays policyholders and others covered by the policy in the event of injury, no matter who caused the accident. The benefits can include medical expenses, loss of income, funeral and death benefits. This may also be called Personal Injury Protection.
First Party Claims: A claim for damage, loss or injury made by an insured.
Flat Rate Cancellation: Termination of an insurance contract at inception. This policy is never in effect.
Forced Placed Insurance: Insurance purchased by a bank or creditor on an uninsured debtor's behalf to cover the property, so that the creditor receives payment if the property is damaged or destroyed.
Foreign Insurance Company: An insurer domiciled in another state.
Forms: This can be any part of your insurance policy. This may be an SR-22 form or a policy form like your application, declaration page or policy jacket. Typically, all are available in Adobe's PDF format.
Fraud: A false statement intended to deceive the insurer and induce it to part with something of value or surrender a legal right. May void a policy.
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Gap Insurance: If you are making lease or loan payments and you experience a total loss, there may be a difference (gap) between the market value of your vehicle and what you still owe on it. This optional coverage pays the difference.
Garage Location: The zip code where your vehicle is parked when not in use and usually corresponds to your primary residence.
Good Student Discount: May be awarded to full-time students who maintain a grade average of "B" or better. Each carrier has specific rules that may apply.
Guarantee Funds: All 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico require licensed insurers to assume some of an insolvent insurance company's policyholder liabilities. These funds are used to bail out the policyholders of companies that fail.
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Hazard: Anything that increases the chance of an accident occurring.
Hit and Run: An accident caused by someone who does not stop to assist or provide information.
Homeowners Insurance: Protects homeowner's from losses to their homes, personal property, and some types of damage or injury to others for which the homeowner is liable. Homeowner's insurance is subject to the terms, limits and conditions of your policy contract.
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ID Card: A card issued by your insurer containing basic information about your insurance policy. Some states require you to keep an ID card in your vehicle.
Inception Date: The date that coverage begins on an insurance policy.
Indemnification: The act of providing compensation for a loss with the intent to restore an individual or entity to the approximate financial position prior to the loss.
Indemnity: A principle of insurance which provides that when a loss occurs, the insured should be restored to the approximate financial condition occupied before the loss occurred, no better, no worse.
Independent Adjuster: An individual who estimates losses on behalf of an insurance company, but is not an employee of that company.
Inspection: Verification of a vehicle's physical condition.
Insurable Interest: Exists when an individual would suffer an economic loss as the result of damage to property or bodily injury.
Insurance: Insurance is a system in which groups of people who have similar chances of suffering a loss transfer their risk of loss to an insurer who pools the risk of many people together. In exchange for payment of premium, the insurer promises to reimburse the person for their covered losses.
Insurance Fraud: The act of falsifying or exaggerating the facts of an accident to an insurance company to obtain payment that would not otherwise be made. Common types of insurance fraud are staged accidents, exaggerated injuries, and inflated medical bills.
Insurance Score: Confidential ratings used for underwriting in some states as a rating tool. It may include information about the consumer's payment history, the number of open accounts and if bankruptcy has been filed. It is a measure of how financial affairs are managed and does not include assets, income information or race information.
Insured: A person or organization covered by an insurance policy.
Insurer: An organization that provides insurance.
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Joint Underwriting Association/JUA: Insurers which join together to provide coverage for a particular type of risk or size of exposure, when there are difficulties in obtaining coverage in the regular market, and which share in the profits and losses associated with the program. JUAs may be set up to provide auto and homeowners insurance and various commercial coverages, such as medical malpractice
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Lapse in Coverage: A point in time when a policy has been canceled or terminated for failure to pay the premium, or when the policy contract is void for other reasons.
Leased Vehicle: A vehicle rented under a long-term contract (lease). The leasing company retains ownership of the vehicle and must be shown on your insurance policy as an insured. See also: gap insurance.
Legal Liability: Liability imposed by law, as opposed to liability arising from an agreement or contract.
Lender: Your lender is the institution to which you make car payments.
Lessor: Your lessor is the institution to which you make your lease payments.
Liability: Any legally enforceable obligation or responsibility for the injury or damage suffered by another person.
Liability Adjuster: The liability adjuster handles the investigation of the accident. These adjusters' responsibilities can include collision payments, property damage payments, and bodily injury settlements. In some states, these adjusters may also handle the medical portion of your claim.
Liability Insurance: Insurance providing money on behalf of the policyholder to pay because of bodily injury or property damage caused to another person and covered in the policy.
Liability Investigation: The process of gathering information to determine the cause of an accident.
Lien: A claim, charge, or encumbrance on property as a security for the payment of a debt.
Lien holder: A person or organization with a financial interest in property up to the amount of money borrowed or still owed on the property.
Limit: The maximum amount of protection purchased by the insured for a specific coverage.
Limits of Liability: The maximum amount of insurance the insurance company will pay for a particular loss, or for a loss during a period of time.
Line of insurance: The type or kind of insurance such as personal lines, life insurance or homeowners
Loss: Any measurable dollar cost of damage and/or injury suffered by a person.
Loss of Use: Compensation to a third-party claimant for financial consequences resulting from the inability to use property as the result of accident-related damage.
Loss Payee: A person or entity with a legally secured insurable interest in another's property, usually a financial institution that loaned money to buy a car. The car is the loan collateral. If the auto is damaged in an accident, loss payments will be made to you and to the loss payee on your policy.
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Malicious Mischief: Intentional damage of personal property with malice of forethought.
Material Damage: All property-related damage losses covered by the policy. This includes the following: Property Damage (PD), Comprehensive damage (COMP), Collision damage (COLL), Fire/Theft Combined Additional Coverage (FTCA), Rental Reimbursement (RREUN), or Uninsured Motorist Property Damage (UMPD).
Material Misrepresentation: The policyholder / applicant makes a false statement of any material (important) fact on his/her application. For instance, the policyholder provides false information regarding the location where the vehicle is garaged or fails to disclose all the residents in a household.
Mechanical Breakdown Insurance: Covers repairs to all mechanical parts of the car.
Medical Adjuster : The medical adjuster is responsible for reviewing all medical bills, replacement/essential services, and lost wages submitted to the company for injuries sustained by you and/or the passengers in your vehicle (depending upon the state in which you live and the coverage on your policy).
Medical Payments Coverage: Pays medical expenses related to an automobile accident. This coverage is subject to the terms, limits and conditions of your policy contract.
Minimum Limits of Liability: The least amount of liability coverage that can be purchased, which is generally equivalent to the minimum amount required by state law. In determining rates, a carrier will use the basic limits to develop the base rates. If an insured person wants higher limits, the carrier applies an increased limits factor to the base rate in calculating the new premium for the increased coverage.
Misrepresentation: To make written or verbal statements that is untrue or misleading.
Motor Vehicle Record (MVR): A report from the agency that issues your driver's license, listing accidents and violations that appear on your driving record. This report is used to verify information provided by insurance applicants and policyholders.
Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF): An international non-profit organization dedicated to motorcycle safety training, research and awareness. Some applicants who complete MSF courses qualify for discounts for motorcycle insurance.
Multi-car discount: A discount offered by some insurance companies for those with more than one vehicle insured on the same policy. In some cases, if you drive a company car insured by your company, your own insurance company may give you the multi-car discount.
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Named driver exclusion: Endorsement on your auto policy that excludes a particular driver who has access to your car from coverage.
Named Insured: Any person, firm or corporation designated by name as the insured person(s) in a policy. Others may be protected by policy definition even though their names aren't on the policy, such as other drivers operating (with consent) the named insured's covered auto.
Named Non-Owner Policy: A policy endorsement for one who operates any non-owned automobile on a regular basis, such as driving a car provided by one's employer.
National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB): A not-for-profit organization that partners with insurers and law enforcement agencies to facilitate the identification, detection, and prosecution of insurance criminals. The NICB receives support from over 1,000 property/casualty insurance companies.
Negligence: The failure to exercise the care that is expected of a reasonable person in similar circumstances.
No-Fault Insurance: May pay for your medical treatment, lost wages, or other accident-related expenses regardless of who caused the accident. This coverage is subject to the terms, limits and conditions of your policy contract and is not available in all states.
No-Loss Form: A statement that is a signed form telling the insurance company there have not been any losses since a certain date. The document usually includes a cancellation date, expiration date, and reinstatement date. etc.
Non-Owned Auto: Any vehicle that is not owned, borrowed, or leased by the insured, and which is used primarily for a business purpose.
Non-Owner Car Insurance: A policy providing liability coverage to a driver who does not own a vehicle, used to avoid gaps in continuous coverage, provide rental-car liability or to satisfy state requirements to reinstate a driver's license or SR-22 filing.
Non-Renewal: When an insurer decides not to renew a policy at the end of its policy period.
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Occasional Driver: The person who is not the primary or principal driver of the vehicle.
Occurrence: An event, or repeated exposure to conditions, which unexpectedly causes injury or damage during the policy period.
Original Equipment Manufacturer Parts: Auto parts obtained from the original manufacturer of the car or the supplier of the original part.
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Passive Restraint System: A passenger safety system, such as an air-bag, that activates automatically in the event of an accident.
Payment Plans: Your auto insurance premium can be paid using one of our installment payment plans; you make several smaller payments but incur a service fee.
Payment Recovery: If your car is damaged because of another driver's negligence and you ask your insurance carrier to settle the claim for damage to your vehicle, we will seek to recover your deductible and our payments from the other party. This process of payment recovery is also called subrogation.
Per Occurrence Limit: This refers to the cap amount an insurance company will pay for all claims arising from a single incident. In an automobile accident, it comprises bodily injuries sustained by all parties. When Bodily Injury coverage is purchased in split limits, the second limit is the "per occurrence" limit: e.g. $100,000(per person)/$300,000(per occurrence)
Per Person Limit: This refers to the cap amount an insurance company will pay for any one person's injuries arising from a single incident. In an automobile accident, it comprises bodily injuries sustained by each person. When Bodily Injury is purchased in split limits, the first limit is the "per person" limit: e.g. $100,000(per person)/$300,000(per occurrence)
Peril: A danger or hazard that can cause a loss, for example, a car collision with an object, or a fire.
Personal Auto Policy: The most common auto insurance policy sold today. Often referred to as "PAP," this policy is written in simple wording and provides coverage for liability, medical payments, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, and physical damage protection.
Personal Injury Protection: May pay for your medical treatment, lost wages, or other accident-related expenses regardless of who caused the accident. This coverage is subject to the terms, limits and conditions of your policy contract
Personal Property: Property that is not land or connected to land (real estate), such as furniture or jewelry.
Physical Damage: Damage to your covered vehicle from perils including (but not limited to) collision or upset with another vehicle object, fire, vandalism and theft.
Physical Damage Coverage: Pays for damage to your car this could be through Collision Coverage or Comprehensive Coverage (Also referred to as Other Than Collision)
Policy: The written documents of a contract for insurance between the insurance company and the insured. Such documents include forms, endorsements, riders and attachments.
Policy Change: Any change made to your insurance policy during the period that the policy is in force.
Policy Lapse: A point in time when a policy has been canceled or terminated for failure to pay the premium, or when the policy contract is void for other reasons.
Policy Limit: The maximum amount a policy will pay, either overall or under a particular coverage.
Policy Period: The period of time in which a policy is in effect. (For example, six months or one year).
Policy Term: The length of time that the policy is in force. Most companies offer annual and semi-annual policies.
Policyholder: One who maintains ownership in an insurance policy. This may refer to the policy owner or those covered under the policy. See also Named Insured.
Pre-accident Condition: The state of the vehicle before the accident, including damage not related to the accident, mileage, options, and other factors.
Preferred Risk: Any risk considered to be better than the standard risk on which the premium rate was calculated.
Premium: The price of insurance an insured person pays for a specified risk for a specified period of time.
Premium Financing: When a policyholder contracts with a lender to pay the insurance premium on his/her behalf. The policyholder agrees to repay the lender for the cost of the premium, plus interest and fees.
Primary Insurance: Insurance that must be maintained as a condition of the most Personal Umbrella Policies. Primary insurance acts as the first layer of coverage on common types of losses. This usually includes auto, motorcycle and homeowner insurance, but may also include boat insurance, commercial liability or some other policy. Please check your insurance policy documents for more detailed information.
Primary Use: What your vehicle is mainly used for (pleasure, to and from work, business, commercial, or farm).
Principal Driver: The person who drives the car most often.
Private Passenger Automobile: A four-wheeled motor vehicle that is subject to motor vehicle registration and used for private personal use.
Private Passenger Autos: Ordinary cars, station wagons and jeeps, utility autos (pick-ups, panel trucks and delivery vans of 1,500 lbs. or less, not used commercially) and utility trailers designed to be pulled by a private passenger auto.
Pro Rata Cancellation: Termination of an insurance contract before the policy expiration date on which the premium returned to the insured person is adjusted in proportion to the amount of time the policy was in effect.
Proof of Loss: A statement made regarding the extent of the claim; it may be requested in accordance with the conditions of the policy.
Property Damage Liability Coverage: Pays for damage to someone else's property resulting from an accident for which you are at fault and provides you with a legal defense. This coverage is subject to the terms, limits and conditions of your policy contract.
Proximate Cause: An act or omission initiating an unbroken sequence of events resulting in injury to a person or damage to property.
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Quote: A statement of the premium that will be charged for insurance coverages based on specific information provided by the person requesting the quote including drivers, vehicles, and driving record.
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Rate: Often used as a synonym for premium but actually refers to the base rating units that are used to determine the final premium.
Rating Plan: The rules that determine the cost of your insurance premium. These rules modify the base rates by applying discounts and surcharges based on your personal characteristics, for example, using your seat belt,
Rebate: A reduction of a premium.
Red Book: A publication used for the determination of values for used automobiles and trucks.
Reinspection: A review of an estimate or appraisal done by an adjuster during or after repairs to a vehicle. This is done to guarantee the accuracy of staff or independent auto damage personnel, and to guarantee that the work required in an estimate or appraisal is being completed by the body shop.
Reinstatement: The restoring of a cancelled policy to full force and effect. The reinstatement may be effective after the cancellation date, creating a lapse of coverage. Some companies require evidence of insurability and payment of past due premiums plus interest. They may also require a signed no-loss form.
Reinsurance: A form of insurance that insurance companies buy for their own protection, used and required to pay for losses and claims.
Release: Legally binding contract stating that all obligations past, present or future arising from a particular accident or occurrence have been fulfilled.
Renewal: The process of keeping an active policy in force through the issuance of a renewal policy.
Renewal Date: The date that your insurance policy expires and the date that your renewed policy will begin.
Rental Reimbursement: Optional coverage that helps pay rental vehicle costs when your insured vehicle is disabled as the result of a covered accident or loss. Available to most policyholders for an additional premium.
Renter's Insurance: Insurance that provides protection from losses that arise out of the rental of a home. Protection covers losses to the insured's property, not to losses that occur as a result of owning a home.
Replacement Cost: The cost to repair or replace an insured item. Some insurance only pays the actual cash or market value of the item at the time of the loss, not what it would cost to fix or replace it. This will pay the full cost to repair an item or buy a new one to replace the damaged item.
Replacement Parts: Several types of parts may be used when your vehicle is repaired: new parts, both original equipment manufacturer and after-market; and recycled parts. New or after-market parts will be used if a carrier can't find like-kind and quality recycled parts. A 5-year-old car, for instance, would be repaired with parts at least as good as the parts that had been in the car.
Replacement Value: The full cost to repair or replace the damaged property with no deduction for depreciation, subject to policy limits and contract provisions.
Resident Adjuster: Staff adjuster who handles claims in remote areas of a region.
Rider: In motorcycle insurance, a rider is someone who will operate the insured motorcycle. In life and health insurance, the term "rider" is often used to refer to an endorsement to an insurance policy.
Risk: The chance of suffering a loss.
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Safe Driver Plan: A rating system that assigns points for traffic convictions and certain accidents. Similar to a merit-rating plan, each point increases the surcharge percentage to the baseline rates.
Salvage Title: A title of ownership on a car that was once deemed a total loss by an insurance company, but has since been repaired and allowed back on the roadways.
Select Repair Shop: Body shops chosen by your insurance carrier that are authorized to handle the repair of insured vehicles without the need for an inspection by an assigned adjuster. Vehicle owners should always have the right to choose the body shop of their choice.
Self-Insured Retention: In umbrella insurance, self-insured retention is similar to a deductible in other types of insurance. The self-insured retention is the amount of damages for which the policyholder is responsible before the umbrella coverage begins to cover a loss.
Short Rate Cancellation: A policy termination in which the refunded premium is not proportional to the amount of time remaining in the policy period due to the fixed expenses incurred by the company. The insured will generally pay more for each day of coverage than if the policy had remained in force throughout the entire policy period.
Special Investigation Units: Your insurance carrier helps fight fraud through its special investigation unit, staffed with experts in fraud detection and investigation. Sounds official.
Split Limit: Any insurance coverage with separately stated limits for different types of coverage. Example: an automobile liability policy of 100/300/50 provides a maximum of $100,000 bodily injury coverage per person, $300,000 bodily injury coverage per accident, and a property damage limit of $50,000 per accident.
SR-22: An SR-22 (CFR) is a certificate mandated by the state to verify that an individual is maintaining auto insurance liability coverage. If a person needs an SR-22 (CFR), they will usually be notified by their state's Motor Vehicle Department.
Stacking of Limits: The application of more than one policy limit to the same loss or occurrence. In some jurisdictions, courts have required stacking of limits when multiple policies, or multiple policy periods, cover an occurrence. For example, Uninsured motorist bodily injury limits of $100,000/300,000 on two policies owned by the same person may be added together to pay a loss. In this event, the total amount of coverage available for an accident would be $200,000/600,000.
Staff Adjuster: A non-contract or per-job adjuster that is typically employed by your insurance carrier to handle claims.
Subrogation: If your car is damaged because of another driver's negligence and you ask your insurance carrier to settle the claim for damage to your car, we will seek payment recovery (including your deductible) from the other party. This process of payment recovery is called subrogation.
Supplement/Supplemental Estimate: Used to cover damage not included in the original estimate. Most claims settlements do their best to estimate costs, if they are wrong you are entitled to any additional money to settle your claim. This is paid with a supplement.
Surcharge: An extra charge applied by the insurer. For automobile insurance, a surcharge is usually charged for items like accidents, moving violations, or specific risks not handled by normal rating factors.
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Term: The length of time for which a policy or bond is in force.
Theft: The unlawful taking of another's property with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of its use or possession.
Third Party: Person or entity not party to an agreement but with an interest in the agreement.
Third Party Claim: Claims for injury or damage to property of a third party alleged to have been caused by the insured.
Threshold Level: Under some no-fault insurance laws, the threshold level represents the degree of injury a claimant must establish before being allowed to sue the negligent party. The threshold may be verbal (regarding the severity of the injuries) or a dollar amount ($10,000), or both. For example, with a threshold of $5,000, an injured person may sue if his/her injuries and other economic damages (rehabilitation expenses, loss of income, etc.) exceed $5,000.
Tort: A private wrong or harm (other than a breach of contract) committed against another, resulting in legal liability. A tort is either intentional or accidental (negligent). Automobile liability insurance is purchased to protect one from suits arising from unintentional torts.
Tort Feasor: One who commits a tort (see the definition of tort).
Total Loss: The condition of an automobile or other property when damage is so extensive that repair costs would exceed the value of the vehicle or property.
Towing and Labor Costs: This endorsement, which is added to the physical damage coverage, provides reimbursement up to a specified limit to tow your vehicle or pay for on-site labor costs.
Transportation Expenses: Subject to a daily and maximum dollar limit, this coverage (under the physical damage portion of an automobile policy) pays for transportation expenses incurred by the named insured only in the event of theft of an entire covered auto. Coverage generally begins after a stated minimum waiting period.
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Umbrella Insurance: Provides high limits of additional liability coverage above the limits of your homeowner's and auto policy. In addition, it provides coverage that may be excluded by other liability policies.
Underinsured: The result of the policyholder’s failure to buy sufficient insurance. An underinsured policyholder may only receive part of the cost of replacing or repairing damaged items covered in the policy.
Underwriting: The process an insurer goes through to determine whether or not it will provide coverage for an applicant.
Unearned Premium: The portion of your premium remaining on your policy term. For example, with a six-month premium, at the end of the first month of the premium period, five-sixths of the premium is unearned by the insurance company.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage: A type of car insurance coverage that protects you if you're hit by a driver without insurance. If you don't have uninsured motorist, and you're hit by an uninsured driver, you may need to pay out of pocket for damages to your car.
Unsatisfied Judgment Fund: Some states have established laws to reimburse those injured in auto accidents that have been unable to collect from the responsible party.
Usage: This refers to the primary function or purpose in which you intend to operate your vehicle. For example, if you primarily drive your car to and from work, the usage is considered "commute; "if you're self-employed and you primarily drive to see customers, the usage is considered "business;" if you're retired, your usage is considered "pleasure."
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Vandalism: Destruction or defacement of property.
Vehicle Identification Number (VIN): A 17-digit number assigned to each vehicle manufactured in the United States after 1980. This number is used for identification purposes and is visible on the dashboard when viewed from the outside of the car. It indicates many identifiers including make, model, options, and year in official records (like a Social Security number for your car).
Void: A policy contract that for some reason specified in the policy becomes free of all legal effect. One example under which a policy could be voided is when information a policyholder provided is proven untrue.
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Waiver of Collision Deductible: This option pays your collision deductible when you carry collision coverage on a vehicle that is damaged by an uninsured or hit-and-run motorist who is at fault. Coverage applies only when there is actual physical contact and when you can identify the uninsured driver or vehicle.
Whole Dollar Premium: Generally, insurance premiums are rounded to the nearest dollar; an amount of 51 cents or more being rounded up to the next dollar, and any amount less than that the cents are dropped.
How much is car insurance going to cost you? It’s not an easy question to answer. The quote you receive could be painfully high or comfortably low based on a number of different factors. But for what it’s worth, the average amount spent to insure a car in the U.S. was $815 a year in 2012, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
However, as anyone who pays much less — or more — than $815 a year can tell you, there are a lot of variables that affect your car insurance rates.
Some factors, including where you live and what kind of car you drive, can be tough to change. Others, such as your driving habits and the level of coverage you choose, are a bit easier to tweak. I’ll break down these factors and discuss what (if anything) you can do to save a dime on your car insurance.
Comparison Shop to Lower Your Car Insurance Cost
Before we get started, it’s important to mention one thing you can always do to save some money: Shop around. It’s easiest to start online. Our quote generator below can help you do that quickly, eliminating the hassle of calling individual insurers and repeating the same information. Just enter your ZIP code and you’re on your way:
Find the Best Car Insurance Rates
Enter your zip code below and be sure to click at least 2-3 companies to find the very best rate.
Cost Factor No. 1: Basic Demographics
Your age, sex, marital status, and location all weigh heavily on how much you car insurance costs. That’s because your insurance company has an enormous amount of data that tells them how each of these things makes you more or less of a risk for filing claims.
For instance, if you’re younger (typically, age 25 or below), unmarried, and male, you’ll pay more than an older, married female, who is statistically less likely to file a claim.
Location also has a huge impact on your car insurance rates. State laws that regulate car insurance can have a big effect. Michigan, the most expensive state for car insurance premiums according to Insure.com, tops the list because residents get unlimited lifetime personal injury protection for medical expenses resulting from crashes. Montana comes in second, in part because crash fatality rates are very high, and insurers think driver safety laws are too lax.
You’ll also almost always pay more in densely populated areas, where you’re at more risk for an accident. This is likely why Washington, D.C., Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Jersey are all among the top 10 most expensive states. Areas prone to natural disasters can mean car insurance costs a premium, too, which is why Louisiana is fourth on the list.
How to save: Unfortunately, this is the toughest category for eking out some savings. You’re unlikely to move or get married just to save on how much car insurance costs.
Still, it’s worth at least keeping in mind how big an impact where you live can have on what you pay. According to CarInsurance.com, even ZIP codes that aren’t terribly far from one another can vary dramatically on average costs. For more details on how costs vary from state to state, keep reading.
How much is car insurance? A state-by-state breakdown
Below, you’ll see how the cost of car insurance varies by state, according to two measures. The first number is the average expenditure per state, drawn from 2012 data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. This figure is the total amount collected in each state for liability, comprehensive, and collision premiums, divided by the total number of insured vehicles.
The second number compares the average premium for similar coverage across every state and Washington, D.C., according to a 2015 study by Insure.com. The study averaged quotes for a full-coverage policy for the same customer driving 20 of the best-selling cars in 10 ZIP codes per state.
As you’ll see, just because a state has a high average expenditure doesn’t necessarily mean it has a high average premium (and vice versa). Remember that the first number takes into account how much customers actually choose to spend — they may opt out of pricier coverage options or choose lower coverage limits — whereas the second number is simply an average of quotes for a policy that includes everything.
|State||Average spent on car insurance (rank)||Average premium for a complete policy (rank)|
|Alabama||$659 (37)||$1,320 (22)|
|Alaska||$873 (13)||$1,410 (18)|
|Arizona||$781 (18)||$1,103 (37)|
|Arkansas||$679 (35)||$1,239 (27)|
|California||$749 (22)||$1,643 (9)|
|Colorado||$737 (25)||$1,245 (26)|
|Connecticut||$986 (9)||$1,690 (7)|
|Delaware||$1,065 (6)||$1,542 (13)|
|District of Columbia||$1,154 (2)||$1,799 (3)|
|Florida||$1,127 (4)||$1,742 (5)|
|Georgia||$768 (20)||$1,519 (14)|
|Hawaii||$735 (27)||$1,114 (34)|
|Idaho||$534 (51)||$877 (49)|
|Illinois||$731 (28)||$1,079 (39)|
|Indiana||$637 (40)||$1,033 (41)|
|Iowa||$561 (49)||$886 (48)|
|Kansas||$632 (42)||$1,147 (33)|
|Kentucky||$759 (21)||$1,341 (21)|
|Louisiana||$1,112 (5)||$1,774 (4)|
|Maine||$582 (47)||$805 (51)|
|Maryland||$966 (11)||$1,590 (11)|
|Massachusetts||$976 (10)||$1,460 (16)|
|Michigan||$1,048 (7)||$2,476 (1)|
|Minnesota||$718 (29)||$1,222 (29)|
|Mississippi||$748 (23)||$1,584 (12)|
|Missouri||$683 (34)||$1,112 (35)|
|Montana||$658 (38)||$1,866 (2)|
|Nebraska||$616 (44)||$1,086 (38)|
|Nevada||$906 (12)||$1,248 (25)|
|New Hampshire||$716 (30)||$905 (47)|
|New Jersey||$1,129 (1)||$1,595 (10)|
|New Mexico||$695 (32)||$1,237 (28)|
|New York||$1,152 (3)||$1,013 (42)|
|North Carolina||$611 (45)||$986 (44)|
|North Dakota||$576 (48)||$1,377 (19)|
|Ohio||$634 (41)||$843 (50)|
|Oklahoma||$737 (26)||$1,496 (15)|
|Oregon||$741 (24)||$1,211 (30)|
|Pennsylvania||$827 (16)||$1,304 (23)|
|Rhode Island||$1,034 (8)||$1,656 (8)|
|South Carolina||$772 (19)||$1,210 (31)|
|South Dakota||$556 (50)||$1,180 (32)|
|Tennessee||$673 (36)||$1,263 (24)|
|Texas||$858 (14)||$1,449 (17)|
|Utah||$713 (31)||$1,059 (40)|
|Vermont||$642 (39)||$957 (45)|
|Virginia||$691 (33)||$1,008 (43)|
|Washington||$809 (17)||$1,110 (36)|
|West Virginia||$846 (15)||$1,716 (6)|
|Wisconsin||$598 (46)||$930 (46)|
|Wyoming||$618 (43)||$1,371 (20)|
Cost Factor No. 2: The Car You Drive
You probably didn’t think about how your car would affect your insurance rates when you bought it, and you probably won’t trade it in just because of your rate. However, just as your insurance company assumes you’re a bigger or smaller risk based on your own demographics, it assigns risk based on the car you drive, too.
How to save: When it’s time to shop for a car, keep this rule of thumb in mind: The faster the car can go, the bigger the risk of a crash, and the more you’ll pay.
If you drive a sensible family car such as a minivan, sedan, or SUV, you probably won’t pay nearly as much as someone who drives a pricey, high-performance sports car. In a recent analysis, the Nissan GT-R Nismo, Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG Convertible, Dodge SRT Viper, Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet, and Audi R8 5.2 Spyder Quattro were the most expensive to insure. On the flip side, the Jeep Wrangler Sport, Jeep Patriot Sport, Honda CR-V, Dodge Grand Caravan, and Honda Odyssey were easiest on the wallet.
You can also save a bit of money by considering a used car, which will almost always be cheaper to insure than a new one. Anti-theft devices such as alarms, anti-lock brakes, and other safety-focused equipment can also save you some cash.
Cost Factor No. 3: Your Driving History
This one is probably the most obvious factor affecting your car insurance, and it may seem like the fairest one. The more tickets and violations you have, the higher your rates are going to climb. Some tickets will be worse than others: For instance, if you’re cited for DUI or reckless driving, your insurance premium could nearly double, according to Bankrate.
Speeding or running a red light will still raise your rates, but much less. In fact, your insurer may not raise your rates after one speeding ticket. The increase you see may also partially depend on how fast you were going. The average bump is 21% if you were caught going up to 15 mph over the speed limit, but that rises to 30% if you were flooring it at 31 mph or more over the limit.
How to save: You can’t rewrite the past, but you can be a safer driver going forward. If your insurer offers one, you can even consider installing a tracker that records data on driving habits such as mileage, sudden acceleration or deceleration, excessive speed, rough turns, and whether you drive a lot at night. Typically, you won’t be penalized for bad driving, but you could be rewarded for good driving. You may also be able to save by taking a defensive driving course.
Cost Factor No. 4: Your Credit Score
If you’re wondering what your credit score has to do with how much you pay for car insurance, it’s a good question. Insurers cite an abundance of data showing the higher your credit score, the less likely you are to file a claim. The reverse is also true: If your credit score is poor, you’re at a greater risk for filing a claim. This controversial practice is actually illegal in a few states (California, Hawaii, and Massachusetts), but otherwise, it’s fair game.
How to save: There’s no quick fix for bad credit, but raising your credit score is still enormously worthwhile because it affects far more than what you pay for car insurance. Paying your bills on time for an extended period is one of the best things to do for your credit score. Reducing large balances and being judicious about opening new credit accounts can also help. For more on what your credit score affects and how to raise it, check out our article, What is a Good Credit Score?
Cost Factor No. 5: Your Driving Habits
Your driving habits make up your daily driving routine. Do you commute daily via car, and for how long? Do you ever use your car for business purposes? Does your car gather dust until the weekend because you use public transportation during the week? Do you park on the street, in a shared lot, or in your own private garage?
All of these things add up to paint a picture of your risk of getting into a crash. Accordingly, they can affect your car insurance premium.
How to save: It sounds obvious, but the less you drive, the less of a risk you are for your insurance company. Moving closer to work to reduce your mileage, taking public transportation, or carpooling are a few tactics that can save you a lot of money — just be sure to report any such chances to your insurer so that you can reap the benefits.
Cost Factor No. 6: The Amount of Coverage You Choose
When you’re shopping for car insurance, there are a couple of numbers that will weigh heavily on what you pay. The first is your limits — that is, the maximum amount your insurance company will pay in the event of a claim. Limits are usually written like this: $50,000/$100,000. That means your insurer will pay up to $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident.
The second number to know is your deductible. That’s how much you’ll pay out of your own pocket when you make a claim. A common deductible is $500, but they can go as low as around $100 and as high as $1,000 to $2,000.
How to save: You don’t want to overpay for coverage you don’t need, but you also don’t want to skimp and leave yourself on the hook for thousands after an accident.
You’ll be required to have a certain minimum limit depending on where you live. For instance, as a Tennessee resident, I’m required to have at least $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in bodily injury liability coverage as well as $15,000 in property damage liability coverage.
However, just because you are only legally required to have a certain amount of coverage doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to carry only the minimum, even if that will save you money. That’s because you could lose your assets, such as your savings or even your house, if someone’s medical or property damage bills exceed your ability to pay when you’re at fault.
That means if you have significant assets, you’ll want to protect them with more coverage. Experts often recommend $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident as a minimum.
Your deductible can be a better place to save. Agreeing to pay $1,000 instead of $100 in the event of a claim can save you a lot of money — but it’s a tactic you should only use if you have that $1,000 stashed away in your emergency fund, ready to pay that bill should you need it.
Cost Factor No. 7: The Type of Coverage You Choose
The types of coverage I discussed above — bodily injury liability and property damage liability — are required when you buy car insurance. There are some other types of coverage that you may be able to skip, however.
How to save: Instead of blindly paying for every kind of coverage, carefully evaluate whether they make sense for your individual situation.
For instance, personal injury protection (PIP) isn’t required in all states. It helps pay for your or your family’s medical bills after a crash. However, it’s probably not necessary if you and your family have adequate health insurance. It also doesn’t make sense to pay for roadside assistance if you’re already a member of AAA.
Comprehensive and collision coverage will be required if you’re financing or leasing your car, but are optional if that’s not the case. Comprehensive covers damage to your vehicle from car theft, vandalism, and other calamities that don’t involve actual crashes. Collision coverage is similar to comprehensive coverage, but covers actual crash-related damage to your vehicle.
If you’re not required to have comprehensive or collision, it might make sense to drop this pricey coverage if you drive very infrequently or if your car’s value is very low.
How Much Does Car Insurance Cost? A Lot — If You Don’t Shop Around
Remember that one of the best things you can do to save on car insurance has nothing to do with who you are, where you live, the coverage you select, or how you drive. Instead, it’s simple comparison shopping: You should always look around to make sure you get the best deal, since each company places a slightly different emphasis on the factors I outlined above.
One other critical reason to shop around is that different insurers offer different discounts. Some will offer you a break for being a good student, a member of certain organizations, active-duty military, or for bundling other policies such as home insurance with the same company. That’s on top of common price breaks for driving less, driving a low-risk car, or having a good credit score, among the other factors I discussed in this article.
Online quote tools can be particularly helpful as you start your search. However, remember that the quicker the quote, the more information you’ll have to provide further down the line. Given how many variables affect how much car insurance costs, you’ll eventually have to provide a fair amount of personal information to get the most accurate price. Good luck!See Also: Get 2x Points on All Your Travel and Dining >> Recommended For You A Great Way To Pay Off Debt With A No Interest Credit Card
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If you've spent any time at all hunting through the classifieds for a second-hand car, you're certain to have spotted ads for cars labelled as Cat C or Cat D insurance write-offs. These cars are often listed at temptingly low prices, but should you consider buying one?
Cat C and Cat D cars are vehicles which have been written off by insurance companies on the basis that they can't be economically repaired. That means that when fixed using official, brand-new parts and licensed maintenance centres the cost of the repair will exceed the car's value. You may find already repaired cars sold as Cat C and D, or cars where the damage has not yet been fixed.
However, while superficial damage can cost a fortune to repair through the official channels, it can sometimes be accomplished much cheaper with a bit of imagination. Using a trusted local garage, second-hand or scrapyard parts and panels or even a spot of DIY can make Cat C and D vehicles a cheap way to get behind the wheel of a decent car.
• Buying a used car: the ultimate guide
It’s definitely a case of ‘buyer beware’ when looking into Cat C and D write-offs, though. Damage that looks superficially light can often cost a lot more to fix when you scratch beneath the surface. Sometimes the smallest ding can result in major damage to the car's structure, leaving them unroadworthy. On the other hand, if you know what you’re looking at, a Cat C or Cat D write-off can often be turned back into a sound and roadworthy car that might not otherwise be affordable.
• Best used cars to buy
If you’re a handy or enterprising type who can unbolt and replace a wing, headlamp or bumper, or maybe fill and paint a dent (or if you have a friend who can do it for you very cheaply), then Cat C and D write-offs can offer a sensible cut-price route to a quality car.
However, if you’re scared of a set of spanners and don’t know your way round the shelves of your local accessory shop, you’ll end up spending money on professional repairs. In that case you’ll be in the same boat as the insurance company that wrote the car off in the first place, because a professional job probably won’t make financial sense.
Exactly what is a Cat C or Cat D write-off?
When insurers ‘write-off’ a car because it’s too expensive to repair – typically after some sort of road accident, but possibly also after a flood or fire, or due to damage occurring during a vehicle theft – it means the owner receives a cash payment, and the insurance company keeps the car.
These insurance write-offs are classified in categories from A to D before they’re disposed of to recyclers or the motor trade. Category A refers to cars which have been burned or so badly damaged that they will never be safe to go back on the road - these cars are normally crushed, and even salvageable parts are destroyed. Category B is similar, and refers to cars that may be stripped for parts, but the car itself will never be safe to drive again. The body shell will be crushed.
Cat C and Cat D are more interesting to buyers, though. These are cars that could be made safe, but are uneconomical for the insurance company to do so. They often have just superficial body damage.
It's important to understand that these cars have still been damaged - any vehicle with the 'Cat' moniker will have been involved in an incident that resulted in damage to the car.
So should you buy a Cat C or Cat D car?
It's certainly worth considering - the nature of these write-offs is that while they could be made safe, it's uneconomical for an insurer to do so. However, a private buyer doesn't have the same hoops to jump through as an insurer does, so it's possible to bag a bargain.
• Best used family cars
As an example, a Cat D write off could be a ten-year-old car with a dent. Insurers are bound to go through official repair channels - on older cars this can be expensive and so the price of a new door to the insurer would be £800. As the list price of the car is only £1,000 the insurer decides it's uneconomical to carry out the repair and writes the car off. However, a private buyer could very easily salvage a door from a scrap vehicle for, say, £50, and fit it themselves. The car can then be sold on provided it's clearly noted as a Cat D write-off.
An example of a Cat C write-off would be a car worth £1,000 with a dent that costs £1,200 to fix. If the car is repaired and put back on the road, a Vehicle Identity Check is required from the DVSA for the car to be taxable, and thus roadworthy. However this test does not check if the car has been repaired properly - so if you are looking to buy one then get a mechanic to check the car over for you first.
So what are the pitfalls of driving a repaired Cat D or Cat C car?
The first is value. Because the write-off category is recorded in the log book, these cars will always be worth less than undamaged counterparts, regardless of outward condition. This should of course be reflected in the price if you're considering buying one of these write-offs.
It's also very important not to focus only on the obvious damage. As with any used car, there could be any manner of faults requiring expensive fixes, totally unrelated to the write-off incident.
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Sometimes insurers won't want to cover a 'Cat D' or 'Cat C' car if you buy one used, but it could just be a case of finding another insurer or accepting a higher premium - these cars aren't impossible to insure.
Do make sure you are aware of the health of the vehicle before driving it - get a mechanic to check it over for you before you buy, ideally. Just because you're buying a written off car doesn't mean you have to settle for poor quality - you should make the same engine, chassis, bodywork and interior checks that you would when buying any used car.
Call to track write-offs
Potentially dangerous cars that have been written off need to be tracked, according to Frank Harvey, head of the National Association of Bodyshops.
“The problem we have with salvage is that it’s unregulated – as long as it looks okay, you can sell it.
“We need a process with enforcement behind it that ensures any vehicle that’s not going to be repaired in a commercial environment is logged and traceable.”
“Everybody is looking for a bargain, and this lulls people into purchasing cars because the price is right. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.”
How to buy a Cat D car: quick tips
- • 'Cat D' means the car has been written off, probably because of a crash
- • You can buy a 'Cat D' car - if you've seen one for sale it will likely have had the damage repaired
- • A 'Cat C' car will have been more heavily damaged than the equivalent 'Cat D' car
- • Get a mechanic to check a 'Cat D' or 'Cat C' car before you buy
- • If your insurer refuses to cover you on one of these cars, try a different provider