OK OK I know that I said I’d be back to finish up auto coverages a few days ago. Business being what it is, it’s taken me a little while. But here we are, and off we go!
Last week we reviewed liability and injury coverages. This week, we are going to review the coverages in place to protect the damages to your vehicle itself and ways to save on them.
- Collision – Even though this is “backwards” from how the coverages appear on your policy, it’s easier to explain starting with Collision. Collision provides coverage for your vehicle when it collides with some other inanimate object, or is hit by another moving vehicle. In the state of PA, unfortunately, that includes when your car is hit by a shopping cart. Some examples of collision claims: if your car is parked and gets hit by another car (or shopping cart!), you hit a patch of black ice and slam into a tree, or you are at fault in a multi-vehicle accident. Ways to save – see note after Comprehensive
- Comprehensive (Comp) – Comprehensive is most easily explained as “all other covered forms of physical damage to your vehicle,” hence the name. In PA, comprehensive coverage does pick up one type of accident that would otherwise be considered a collision – hitting an animal or pedestrian. These damages would be covered by comprehensive. Other examples of comp claims: if your car is stolen, catches on fire, suffers flood damage, a tree falls on it, etc. Windshield and other glass damage is covered by comp (unless caused by a non-animal collision). Ways to save – Easiest and most common way to save is by increasing your deductible. Be wary of two things, though – first is that collision is far more expensive than comp, so it’s far more effective to increase your collision deductible. Second is that you should be aware that the savings by increasing the deductible will not offset (in one year) the increased out of pocket cost in the event of a claim.
- Comp or collision pay for a total loss of the vehicle based on the depreciated (Blue Book) value of the car. All other (partial) losses are paid based on the actual expense of repairs (less the deductible).
- Rental Reimbursement (RR) – RR provides coverage if you need to pay for a rental car as a result of a covered comp or collision claim. In other words: you have a covered claim. Your vehicle will be in the shop for two weeks. You need a car in the interim. You pay for a rental vehicle. RR coverage will reimburse you for the cost, up to specified daily limits and maximum duration (typically, $30 a day for 30 days). Ways to save – only real way to save here, outside of not purchasing it at all, is to carry lower per day limits.
- Towing & Labor (T&L) – T&L provides coverage in the event that you need some form of roadside assistance (change a flat tire, charge a dead battery, keys locked in your car) or need to be towed for virtually any reason (mechanical breakdown, run out of gas, etc). No real way to save here, it’s generally very inexpensive to begin with. Only thing to consider – if you are paying for this AND AAA or some similar road service, be aware you may be paying twice for the same coverage.
- Gap Coverage – This provides coverage for new cars that are purchased using a car loan. As noted above, in the event of a total loss to your car, the policy will only pay for the depreciated value of the vehicle, NOT the loan amount. Typically, the loan amount is higher than the depreciated value, creating a “gap” in coverage. Gap coverage fills the void by paying for the difference. This coverage can be purchased through the dealership or on your auto policy. Compare BOTH terms and pricing before choosing where to buy the coverage!
That about does it for this review. There are other liability and physical damage coverages available, but these are by far the most common (at least in PA).