The financial consequences of damage to a vehicle or property, theft, vandalism, injury to the insured or other people, personal liability, and/or accidents with uninsured or underinsured drivers.
Policies are carefully underwritten by insurers, who take into account your driving record, address, age and even your credit history. The kind of vehicle also matters; some vehicles are stolen more often than others, and some have better safety features. Among the coverages you can purchase are collision; comprehensive, which covers physical damage from fire, theft, vandalism or other non-collision damage; and liability, in case you are legally liable for bodily injury or property damage caused by an automobile.
Only New Hampshire, Tennessee and Wisconsin do not require some kind of liability protection, but they have financial-responsibility laws. These laws require drivers to have sufficient assets to pay claims if they cause an accident. All other states require a variety of coverages. Insureds have wide latitude in how much and what kind of coverage to buy. For example, high annual deductibles can greatly reduce premiums. Old vehicles may no longer warrant collision or comprehensive coverage. Affluent drivers may want to maximize their liability coverage. Lenders may require owners to insure for collision and comprehensive.
Even if you live in the few places that do not require auto insurance, you owe it to others, if not yourself, to have it.
Before you start driving.
Annual or monthly premiums. Policies are generally renewable annually or semi-annually. Insurers charge interest on premiums paid less frequently than annually.