The day all parents dread is finally upon you; your teenage child is old enough to drive. But before they pop in a mix-tape (those are still a thing, right?) and step on the gas, they need to learn the rules of the road. ConsumerAffairs asked dozens of driving schools across the country for advice to make the process more enjoyable and educational for you and your student driver.
Comprehensive car insurance covers damages from an "act of God," or events that are not caused by a car driving into something else. An "act of God" can include things like damage from a heavy tree branch falling on your car. Since you have no control over when or why a tree branch would fall on your car, this kind of accident would be covered under your comprehensive policy.
Financial experts often say it’s smart to drop collision when you drive an old car, then put your car insurance savings in a fund earmarked for emergency repairs or buying a new car. However, when you’re trying to decide when to drop collision coverage, the answer really comes down to your personal finances. “If you’re not absolutely sure that you could deal with paying for repairs or completely replacing your vehicle at a moment’s notice, or else going without a vehicle until you could save for a replacement, it’s best to err on the side of caution and pay the extra premium for collision coverage,” The Simple Dollar advises.
"Teens are very likely to pick up the habits of their parents,” says J.C. Fawcett of the Defensive Driving School. “A parent should think about. Do I cuss at other drivers while driving? Do I speed? Do I tailgate? The training that comes from students observing their parents is very powerful. If a parent attempts to change their habits only when their teen is learning to drive, it's probably 10 years too late."
"Many companies offer discounts for good grades and for completion of an approved driver’s education or defensive driving course," continued Doreen Haughton-James of 123 Drive! Driving Academy. "Some also have their own discount programs. State Farm, for example, has a program called 'Steer Clear' where students receive discounts for logging driving hours and completing a program."
But liability coverage levels come in threes — you’ll probably see something like 50/100/50 up to 250/500/250 in typical policies. You can think of these limits like: individual injuries / total injuries / property damage. Insurers are a little more technical, calling them bodily injury liability, total bodily injury liability and physical damage liability.
Everything’s bigger in Texas and car insurance coverage is no exception. In fact, the Lone Star State has some of the highest minimum requirements in the nation and, even then, these may not be enough when an accident strikes. As it currently stands with Texas, in the event of an accident, there’s a 1 in 7 chance that the other driver won’t be insured. Unless you’ve purchased uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage, that’s money out of your pocket. Texas’s minimum requirements also don’t account for comprehensive coverage which you’ll definitely want to take into consideration since the state ranks first for monetary losses from “catastrophes” like hail storms and hurricanes.
Vehicles loaded with safety features that tend to be driven by parents or other fairly responsible drivers make up the majority of our least expensive list. “Safety features such as airbags, lane departure, back-up cameras and automatic restraint systems all factor into insurance rates. If these technologies are found to reduce the risk of an accident, it may result in lower premiums for policyholders whose vehicles are equipped with these safety features.” says Michael Barry, spokesperson for the media and public affairs division of the Insurance Information Institute.
It’s important to note that every company considers credit very differently, and even among insurers this factor fluctuates by state. For example, NerdWallet’s 2019 car insurance rate analysis indicates that while State Farm charges higher rates for poor credit in many states, it doesn’t seem to do so in Maine. Similar variations are true for many other companies as well.
USAA maintains a strong financial standing and earned a 95/100 from Consumer Reports with Excellent marks all around. This means you won’t have to worry about settling up financially with the company and you’ll likely have a decent time maneuvering through their claims process. If you or anyone in your immediate family is an active or retired service member, you should definitely give USAA a call and get a quote.
A lot goes into an auto insurance rate quote, including your ZIP code, coverage levels, marital status, annual mileage, driving history and vehicle make, year and model. In most states, your gender and credit history are also used to determine rates. And again, the reason auto insurance comparison shopping is so important is because rates between companies are different for each person, too.
In addition, luxury cars come with high repair costs due to the quality of the materials used (teak wood is more expensive than plastic) and the fact that they are often loaded with the latest technology. “Sports cars and high-end luxury vehicles are almost always more expensive to insure because of repair costs. The materials used in these vehicles is often more expensive than the finishes in a moderately priced vehicle,” says Carole Walker, executive director with the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association
Vehicles loaded with safety features that tend to be driven by parents or other fairly responsible drivers make up the majority of our least expensive list. “Safety features such as airbags, lane departure, back-up cameras and automatic restraint systems all factor into insurance rates. If these technologies are found to reduce the risk of an accident, it may result in lower premiums for policyholders whose vehicles are equipped with these safety features.” says Michael Barry, spokesperson for the media and public affairs division of the Insurance Information Institute.
If you’re a first-time homebuyer who’s never had to deal with an insurance company before, State Farm may be your company. With a helpful website featuring industry-best educational resources, a quick and easy quoting process, and a stellar mobile app where you can view your policy, pay your bill, and file claims, State Farm offers one of the easier insurance experiences in the industry.
Idaho is pretty sparsely populated and mainly rural which leads to lower car insurance rates. According to World Atlas, Idaho has the seventh least population density in the country. There are roughly 20 people for every square mile. Wide-open spaces with few people mean fewer cars out on the road and fewer accidents, everything an insurance company loves.
Naturally, insurance companies use your driving past as an indicator of how you will drive in the future. It can be difficult to find affordable car insurance if you have a checkered driving history. While it’s very unlikely you will find an insurance company that won’t increase your premium after an at-fault accident or other violation, the degree of the rate increase will vary by company. Let’s compare rate increases for some common violations across major insurance companies.
Liability auto insurance protects you from that worst case scenario by providing a cushion between your assets and the amount you’re on the hook for. For this reason, choosing the right auto liability limits is the most important part of your car insurance quote comparison. NerdWallet typically recommends having at least as much liability coverage as your net worth.
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