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Are you buying too much car insurance?

By Tom Tennant Posted : 03/17/2015

Buying too much auto insurance?Car insurance is often overlooked as one of the easiest places to save money. Raising deductibles, checking that you're getting discounts and being a safe driver will all help you save money. Compare car insurance quotes and you could be lead to the discovery that you can save some major bucks.

But are you also buying too much auto insurance for your needs?

Liability insurance is no place to cut corners -- it pays for the damage you do to others and protects you from financial ruin in the event you cause a major accident. But take a magnifying glass to the other parts of your policy and you may find you're buying more car insurance than you're likely to use. (See what kinds of coverage -- and how much -- drivers like you are buying with Insurance.com's auto insurance coverage calculator.)

"But remember, each individual has different insurance needs," warns Jerry Hagins, public information officer for the Texas Department of Insurance. "So to say that someone may be overspending on one type of coverage may not be true for someone else. A licensed insurance agent should be able to assist drivers in determining what coverage is right for them."

5 places to compare auto insurance coverage

Are you overinsured? Here are five areas of coverage where you may have too much insurance or redundant insurance:

  • Collision and/or Comprehensive: If you've paid off your car and its value has depreciated so much that repairs would cost more than the worth of the vehicle, or you wouldn't mind taking the risk that a thief will steal your car, consider dropping one or both of these coverage types. (See "When to drop collision coverage.")

    "Keep in mind if you are in an accident and do not have comp/collision coverage, you -- not the insurance company -- are on the hook for paying repairs if you are at fault," says Jarrett Dunbar, spokesperson for the Ohio Department of Insurance.

    But before you drop comp and collision, consider raising your deductibles first. You could save as much as 20 percent off your collision and comprehensive.

  • Personal Injury Protection (PIP): If you have health insurance, consider only buying the state-mandated PIP minimum. If your state doesn't require PIP, buy the minimum amount necessary for your situation. Since your health insurance is secondary to your auto insurance coverage, buying more than the minimum gives your health insurance company a reason not to pay. (On the flip side, if you have little or no health insurance, PIP can be invaluable.)
  • Gap coverage: Gap insurance pays the difference between what you owe on your car and the car's actual value if you "total" your vehicle. But if your loan balance is very low or you'd able to close the "gap" by paying off your loan if your car is totaled, you could drop gap coverage.
  • Rental car reimbursement coverage: Your policy may include reimbursement for a rental car while your car is being repaired. However, the reimbursement could be in the neighborhood of $20 per rental day. If that's not going to break your budget, you might forgo rental reimbursement coverage.
  • Towing and roadside assistance:Think before you buy auto insurance extras like roadside assistance, advises Leah Knapp, spokesperson for Progressive Insurance. "If your warranty is still active, or if you have AAA, towing may be covered if your vehicle breaks down," she says.

Don't skimp on car insurance essentials

In your search for cheap auto insurance, make sure you still have coverage that will protect you against disastrous losses. Experts agree that both adequate liability coverage and uninsured/underinsurance (UM/UIM) coverage are must-haves for any auto policy.

"Liability coverage protects your assets, like your home and other valuables, which you could lose in a lawsuit if you're found responsible for an accident," says Dunbar. "Drivers should purchase more than the state minimum limits based on the value of their assets."

UM/UIM coverage pays for injuries to you and your passengers when another driver is at-fault and doesn't have enough insurance to pay for his damages -- or doesn't have auto insurance at all. And with more and more uninsured motorists on the road, you don't want to take your chances.

Finally, whatever auto insurance options you choose, don't neglect to shop around. You could save hundreds by simply comparing auto insurance quotes.

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