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The regulations for vehicle insurance differ with each of the 50 US states and other territories, with each U.S. state having its own mandatory minimum coverage requirements. Each of the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia require drivers to have insurance coverage for both bodily injury and property damage, but the minimum amount of coverage required by law varies by state. For example, minimum bodily injury liability coverage requirements range from $30,000 in Arizona $100,000 in Alaska and Maine, while minimum property damage liability requirements range from $5,000 to $25,000 in most states.

Coverage levels

Vehicle insurance can cover some or all of the following items:

  • The insured party (medical payments)
  • Property damage caused by the insured
  • The insured vehicle (physical damage)
  • Third parties (car and people, property damage and bodily injury)
  • Third party, fire and theft
  • In some jurisdictions coverage for injuries to persons riding in the insured vehicle is available without regard to fault in the auto accident (No Fault Auto Insurance)
  • The cost to rent a vehicle if yours is damaged.
  • The cost to tow your vehicle to a repair facility.
  • Accidents involving uninsured motorists.

Different policies specify the circumstances under which each item is covered. For example, a vehicle can be insured against theft, fire damage, or accident damage independently.

If a vehicle is declared a total loss and the vehicle’s market value is less than the amount that is still owed to the bank that is financing the vehicle, GAP insurance may cover the difference. Not all auto insurance policies include GAP insurance. GAP insurance is often offered by the finance company at time the vehicle is purchased.

Excess

An excess payment, also known as a deductible, is a fixed contribution that must be paid each time a car is repaired with the charges billed to an automotive insurance policy. Normally this payment is made directly to the accident repair “garage” (the term “garage” refers to an establishment where vehicles are serviced and repaired) when the owner collects the car. If one’s car is declared to be a “write off” (or “totaled”), then the insurance company will deduct the excess agreed on the policy from the settlement payment it makes to the owner.

If the accident was the other driver’s fault, and this fault is accepted by the third party’s insurer, then the vehicle owner may be able to reclaim the excess payment from the other person’s insurance company.

The excess itself can also be protected by a motor excess insurance policy.

Compulsory excess

A compulsory excess is the minimum excess payment the insurer will accept on the insurance policy. Minimum excesses vary according to the personal details, driving record and the insurance company. For example, young or inexperienced drivers and types of incident can incur additional compulsory excess charges.

Voluntary excess

To reduce the insurance premium, the insured party may offer to pay a higher excess (deductible) than the compulsory excess demanded by the insurance company. The voluntary excess is the extra amount, over and above the compulsory excess, that is agreed to be paid in the event of a claim on the policy. As a bigger excess reduces the financial risk carried by the insurer, the insurer is able to offer a significantly lower premium.

Basis of premium charges

Main article: auto insurance risk selection

Depending on the jurisdiction, the insurance premium can be either mandated by the government or determined by the insurance company, in accordance with a framework of regulations set by the government. Often, the insurer will have more freedom to set the price on physical damage coverages than on mandatory liability coverages.

When the premium is not mandated by the government, it is usually derived from the calculations of an actuary, based on statistical data. The premium can vary depending on many factors that are believed to affect the expected cost of future claims.Those factors can include the car characteristics, the coverage selected (deductible, limit, covered perils), the profile of the driver (age, gender, driving history) and the usage of the car (commute to work or not, predicted annual distance driven)

 

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