Auto insurance: Is paying for extras worth it?



Opting for enhanced vehicle options like heated seats when you buy a car may seem superfluous to some. For others, a little splurging is essential. The same goes for auto insurance. Some might think spending more for enhanced protection is an extravagant expense, while others see it as purchasing peace of mind.

Most states require you to buy liability coverage to protect the people you injure and the property you damage with your car. So, regardless of where you live, buying auto insurance should be on your to-do list. But beyond basic liability insurance, there several other types of coverage that will cost you extra, but that could save you money in a variety of worst-case scenarios.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage

Uninsured motorist coverage protects you if you're injured in an accident by an uninsured driver, or if you're the victim of a hit-and-run. According to the Insurance Information Institute, 20 states and the District of Columbia require drivers to buy uninsured motorist coverage.
If you live in a state that doesn't require this type of coverage, you still may want to consider it. Otherwise, getting hit by an uninsured driver will leave you with the bill for hospital costs, car repairs and a rental car while yours is in the shop.
Even if the at-fault driver has state-mandated liability insurance, it still doesn't mean all of your damages will be paid. If your injuries or property damage exceed that driver's coverage, you might need to take the driver to court or pay out of pocket to make up the difference. But if you have underinsured motorist insurance, your insurance provider will pay the difference. According to the Insurance Information Institute, Connecticut, Maine, Minnesota, North Carolina and Vermont require drivers to buy both uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist coverage.
Coverage on impact

Liability insurance will cover the damage you do to other drivers and their vehicles. But what about your own car?
Collision coverage will cover repairs to your vehicle if the crash is your fault according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). When your vehicle is damaged in an accident, whether it's with another vehicle or an object like a traffic light, you pay your deductible and your insurance provider pays the difference to repair your car. Collision coverage usually pays up to the actual cash value of your car, which means the purchase price, age and condition of your vehicle will be taken into account, according to Allstate.
When a vehicle is damaged from an incident outside of a collision, comprehensive coverage helps pay for any losses. For instance, theft, vandalism, storm damage, falling objects and broken windshields are generally covered under comprehensive coverage. As with collision coverage, you'll have to pay a deductible first.
If you're financing your car, your lender may require you to buy collision and comprehensive coverage, according to the NAIC. If you're not required to buy these types of coverage, take into consideration the value of your vehicle before you decide to do so. A car worth $1,000 probably will cost more to insure than to replace after an accident.
Bonus features

You may want to discuss additional auto insurance options with your agent. For instance, medical payment coverage could be a valuable option, especially if you don't have health insurance. This insurance will kick in if you're injured or killed in an accident, even if you're a pedestrian struck by a vehicle. It pays for medical costs like hospital and surgical expenses, and it covers funeral costs if you don't survive the accident. According to the NAIC, medical payments coverage will cover others who are injured or killed in an accident while riding in or driving your vehicle.
Rental reimbursement coverage and roadside assistance coverage may prove helpful as well. Rental reimbursement coverage pays for your rental car if your insured vehicle is damaged in an accident, and roadside assistance coverage will help cover the costs of getting stranded -- such as having your car towed to a repair shop.

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