Knowing you have auto insurance can give you peace of mind. But when was the last time you actually looked at the policy you keep tucked away in your car's glove compartment? And are you sure you're covered for everything that could go wrong on the road? Here are some types of coverage your policy might include -- and some you might want to consider.
Most states have minimum liability insurance requirements. Liability insurance covers the injuries and property damage you cause to others in an auto accident. It does not, however, pay for your car or your injuries, no matter who's at fault.
Liability insurance coverage is generally expressed on your policy as three limits, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). Those limits are bodily injury coverage per person, bodily injury coverage per accident and property damage coverage. So, if your policy's liability coverage is written as 100/300/50, that means you have $100,000 in bodily injury coverage per person you harm in an accident, $300,000 in bodily injury coverage for all the people you harm in an accident and $50,000 in coverage for property damage.
Uninsured motorist coverage
Uninsured motorist coverage pays for your injuries if the other driver is responsible for the accident but doesn't have liability insurance, according to the Insurance Information Institute. It also pays out if you're the victim in a hit-and-run accident, according to the NAIC. Uninsured motorist coverage is not mandatory or automatic -- if you want it, you have to choose to pay for it.
Underinsured motorist coverage
If another driver causes the accident and doesn't have sufficient liability coverage, your underinsured motorist coverage will kick in. It will pay the additional costs of treating your injuries and repairing property damage up to your policy's limits. Like uninsured motorist coverage, it is optional and is not automatically included in your policy.
This optional portion of your auto insurance policy covers the damage done to your vehicle after a collision. Collision coverage generally involves a deductible -- the amount you must pay before your insurance coverage kicks in. After you pay your deductible, the insurer will pay up to the actual cash value of your car, which takes into account the age, condition and purchase price of your vehicle, according to Allstate.
This optional type of coverage protects you if your car is damaged by events other than collisions -- like storms, falling objects, vandalism or fire. It also covers animal damage (including deer collisions), and it will help you replace your car if it's stolen.
Like collision coverage, comprehensive coverage involves a deductible. If you have a car loan, comprehensive and collision coverage might be required by your lender.
Roadside assistance coverage
Roadside assistance coverage can come in handy if you get stranded. Some insurers automatically roll roadside assistance into their policies as an extra perk. But drivers often will need to add it to their coverage. Some insurance providers, including Progressive, cover towing, flat-tire changes, locksmith service, battery jump-starts and emergency fuel delivery in their roadside assistance plans.
Medical payments coverage
If you or someone else is injured while riding in or driving your vehicle, this add-on to your policy (if you have it) will pay the medical expenses, even if you caused the accident. It also will cover funeral costs if you or another person in your vehicle dies in an accident. According to the NAIC, medical payments coverage might protect you if you're hit as a pedestrian.
Personal injury protection
Personal injury protection (often called PIP) commonly is part of no-fault insurance policies, which are required in some states. Like medical payments coverage, personal injury protection will pay anyone in your vehicle for their injuries after an accident, regardless of fault. Unlike medical payments coverage, however, PIP does cover lost wages.
What you put in is what you take out
How much insurance you buy will determine how much will be paid out after an accident. If you're involved in an accident and have $50,000 in personal injury protection, your insurance provider will cover that amount. If you or your passengers' injuries exceed that amount, you'll be responsible for the remainder of the bill -- and your passenger could end up suing you.
How much you spend after an accident will depend on your deductible as well. If you have no deductible, your insurance company will pay 100 percent of the costs up to the value of your car. If you have a $1,000 deductible, you'll be required to fork over that amount to cover the costs. The lower your deductible, the more you'll pay in premiums.