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Auto Insurance FAQ

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How much auto liability coverage do I need? Return To Top

Your liability limit should be high enough to protect all the assets you've worked so hard to get. That's because those assets may be targeted in a lawsuit, if you're involved in a serious auto accident. Your assets include the total values of your house, vehicles, personal possessions, savings accounts, and more.

For added security and peace of mind, consider purchasing more than the minimum liability limits required by law; the additional cost for higher limits is relatively small compared to the additional protection you receive. If you have substantial assets that exceed the highest liability limit we offer, consider a personal excess liability("umbrella") policy, available at extra cost.

What is the difference between collision and comprehensive coverage? Return To Top

Comprehensive coverage pays for physical damage to your auto caused by things such as fire, theft, hail, vandalism, and animals. These events are called "perils" in your policy. Some examples of a comprehensive loss include:

  • your auto is struck by debris that falls from an overpass
  • your auto is damaged by a tree falling on it
  • your auto is partly or totally submerged in water
  • your auto is maliciously scratched
  • your auto's tires are slashed
  • your auto's windshield is cracked by a stone

Collision coverage pays for physical damage if your auto is hit by another vehicle or runs into an object. This coverage will pay for damage to your auto regardless of who causes the accident. Some examples of a collision loss include:

  • your auto strikes or is struck by another auto
  • you hit a pedestrian, damaging your auto (the pedestrian’s injuries are covered under liability coverage]
  • your auto hits debris lying in the road
  • your auto strikes a tree or fence
  • your auto is struck by a shopping cart

What is not covered under my auto policy? Return To Top

Wear-and-tear, freezing, mechanical breakdown, or road damage to tires by potholes are not covered by your auto insurance policy. Check your policy for other restrictions.

Am I covered under my personal policy if I also use my auto for business? Return To Top

If you own your car and simply drive to and from your principal place of business, this is considered personal use and will be covered under your personal policy.

If in addition to commuting to work, you also use your vehicle for other business-related driving, such as traveling on sales calls or carrying tools, supplies, and equipment to a job site, this is considered business use. It may or may not be covered under your personal policy.

To ensure that you have the appropriate insurance for your needs, consult with a qualified insurance representative and check your policy for restrictions.

If I borrow someone else's car, what insurance pays? Return To Top

If you're driving someone else's car and you get into an accident, the insurance on the borrowed car would be tapped first to pay for damages. If that insurance weren't adequate, then your personal auto insurance would kick in too. See policy for details.

Will higher deductibles lower my auto insurance premium? Return To Top

Absolutely. The higher your deductible, the lower your premium. That's because you're willing to pay a bigger amount of a loss in the event of an accident. Always make sure that if a loss does happen that you will be financially prepared to handle a higher deductible.

Why do I need Uninsured Motorists (UM) coverage? Return To Top

Some drivers don't have auto insurance, even when they're legally required to buy it. If you're involved in an accident with an uninsured driver, that driver may not be able to pay for your damages. UM coverage helps protect you and your passengers from injury-related damages caused by either an uninsured driver or a hit-and-run driver. In a few states, damages to your car may also be included.

Will my insurance rates go up if I make a claim? Return To Top

If an accident or loss occurs, certain factors can result in an increase to your policy premium, including:

  • Determination of fault
  • Amount of damages paid
  • State regulations
  • Previous accident and violation (conviction) history
  • Type of accident or violation
  • Severity of accident or violation

After an accident, how do I file a claim against the other driver? Return To Top

You can file a claim against the other driver by contacting that person's insurance company or agent. You will need to give the other company your insurance information and tell it what type of claim you wish to make. If you need assistance, contact Jim Toman Insurance.

Should I purchase the Loss Damage Waiver offered by the rental agent when I rent a vehicle? Return To Top

This is a great question, and one that our customers ask frequently.  Whether you rent a vehicle for personal use while on vacation, or as a substitute while your vehicle is out of commission for repair or service, or for business use while out of town, there comes that time when you’re standing at the rental car counter and the agent asks the inevitable question:  “Do you want to buy our loss damage waiver (or our insurance coverage)?”

Most loss damage waiver (LDW) fees are outrageous.  Sometimes they cost more than the daily rental fee itself.  But are they worth the additional cost?  The answer may depend on your tolerance for risk and inconvenience.  You must decide if the extra cost is reasonable, considering the potential for an uninsured loss should something happen to the vehicle during the term of the rental contract, and the resulting inconvenience of dealing with the rental company and your insurance company to satisfy the rental company’s demands.

First, you should know that the LDW is not actually an insurance policy.  It is a waiver of the rental company’s requirement in the rental contract that you bring the vehicle back in the same condition as when it left their lot.  Most rental contracts make you responsible for any damage to the vehicle, including theft and weather-related damage.  When you purchase the LDW, the rental company is removing that provision from the contract on a conditional basis. 

If you don’t purchase the LDW and the vehicle is damaged, here are some of the costs for which you could be held responsible under the rental contract:

  1. Cost to repair damage to the vehicle, or the full value of the vehicle if it is a total loss
  1. “Diminished value” of the vehicle – the difference between what the vehicle was worth before the accident and what it is worth after repairs have been made
  1. “Loss of use” – the amount of money the rental company loses on rental fees while the vehicle is out of service for repair or replacement
  1. Administrative or loss-related expenses incurred by the rental company, such as fees for towing, appraisal, and claims adjustment, plus general office expenses for handling the paperwork

Whether all or any of these costs are covered by your personal auto policy depends on several factors. 

Reasons to purchase the Loss Damage Waiver:

1.  Your policy may not cover damage to the rental vehicle at all.

Coverage for damage to the rental vehicle and related costs are provided by the physical damage section of your personal auto policy – If your policy provides physical damage coverage on at least one of your covered vehicles.

2.  Your insurance company may not pay the entire amount demanded by the rental company.

When your policy provides physical damage coverage on one of your covered vehicles, the policy covers damage to a rented vehicle.  The amount payable by the insurance company is the lesser of the “actual cash value” of the vehicle or the amount “necessary” to repair or replace the vehicle, minus your deductible.  In addition, the policy covers “loss of use” with a daily limit (usually as low as $20 per day) and a maximum limit (usually $600), and there is usually a 1- or 2-day waiting period before the policy will begin to pay these expenses.  Because of all these limitations, you may become personally responsible for:

  • The amount demanded by the rental company to repair or replace the vehicle in excess of “actual cash value” or the amount “necessary” to repair or replace;
  • The amount of your deductible;
  • The amount demanded by the rental company for “loss of use” in excess of the daily and maximum limits payable by your insurance company;
  • The amount demanded by the rental company for “diminished value” of the vehicle, even after the repairs are complete;
  • The amount demanded by the rental company for administrative or other loss-related expenses.

3.  Your policy may exclude some electronic equipment.

Your policy may exclude loss to some electronic equipment that receives or transmits audio, visual or data signals.  If you rent a vehicle equipped with a GPS receiver, for example, your policy may not cover it.

4.  Your premium may go up or your policy may not be renewed if you have an at-fault accident.

You are driving an unfamiliar vehicle in unfamiliar territory.  If you have an at-fault accident while driving the rented vehicle, your insurance company may hold it against you – with a premium surcharge or perhaps even non-renewal.

5.  Your line of credit may be adversely affected.

If you don’t buy the LDW, the rental company will probably ring up an estimated damage amount on your credit card, pending notification to and settlement by your insurance company. 

6.  You may suffer a huge inconvenience.

When you have purchased the LDW, you can bring a damaged vehicle back to the rental company, throw the keys on the counter, and walk away.  When you haven’t purchased the LDW, you may have to spend a significant amount of time dealing with the rental company and your insurance company.

Bottom LineWe recommend that you buy the Loss Damage Waiver from the rental company.