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A Personal Look at Car Insurance

A Personal Look at Car Insurance

When I came home from college for spring break this year, my parents surprised me with a car. They said it was a reward for keeping my scholarship through my first two years of school, but I'm guessing they were also sick of hearing about how many times my old junker had broken down on me.

A few days into the break, Mom came into my room and found me with papers spread out all over the floor.

"Homework?" she asked.

"No," I replied. "I've got to buy auto insurance for the car and I can't make heads or tails of this stuff. "

Mom sat down on the bed. "Maybe I can help," she offered

I tried to put the papers back in order as I explained to her that it was looking as though I would be able to afford only minimum coverage. I saw her frown a little and I immediately added that I really wasn't comfortable having only minimum coverage, since we all knew what that could lead to.

I was referring to Mom's sister, Aunt Leslie, who'd been hit by a driver with minimum coverage. Thankfully, her most severe injury had been a broken right arm, but it had been bad enough to require a lot of physical therapy, an excess liability the other driver's insurance hadn't covered. Aunt Leslie could have sued the other driver personally for that excess liability, but that wasn't her way, so she'd been stuck paying her medical bills out-of-pocket.

"You know, what happened to Aunt Leslie brings up another important point," Mom said. And she told me that some auto insurance policies will make up the difference in cases where the at-fault driver is liable, but is only carrying minimum coverage. Aunt Leslie hadn't been so lucky, but knowing this, I could make an informed decision.

She also pointed out that the state laws about excess liability might be different where I was going to school, and that some insurance companies offered more legal protection to their drivers with minimum coverage by providing summary judgment for their drivers in cases of excess liability. However, she reminded me, it seemed selfish to think about it from that perspective, since, in that situation, the other driver's damages and injuries would not be fully covered.

Mom agreed with me that no two policies were alike, and to find the best choice for me, I would just have to ask lots of questions and read as carefully as I could. She also said that to get the best deal, I should always get multiple rate and policy quotes, and make the companies compete for my business. Then she got a mischievous look in her eye and said, "But I predict you're not going to spend too much longer looking at all this. "

"What are you talking about?" I asked. "Didn't you just get through saying it would take me a while to read through everything, ask all the right questions, and understand what I'm paying for?"

Mom nodded and said, "You're absolutely right, and if you researched it properly it could take a few months, but right now, I think there's something even more pressing for you to do. " I looked at her questioningly and she explained, "I think you need to come into the kitchen and try out my new cookie recipe. "

I smiled, appreciating her attempt to help me have fun on my spring break, but I told her I really should try to learn a little bit more about my options for auto insurance before taking a break.

"No," Mom began with a little laugh. "You don't have to think about that for another few years. Dad and I have already bought your auto insurance for the car. For the next few years, we want you focusing on school, not worrying about concerns like auto insurance. "

I jumped up to thank her with a big hug. Mom said, "Now come and taste these cookies. They're an excess liability to my diet. " After just one bite, I heartily agreed.


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