Autumn is the peak of collisions involving vehicles and deer, with November being the peak month. Thus there's no better time to review your auto insurance coverage than now. Comprehensive coverage is the part of auto insurance that covers you in case you were to hit a deer. In the event you do hit a deer, comprehensive coverage will pay for the damage up to the value of the vehicle minus whatever deductible you're carrying.
For people with newer and more expensive vehicles, or vehicles that are financed, you more than likely already have this coverage on your policy. But for those who do not have comprehensive and collision coverage (meaning they're only carrying a liability policy), there is no coverage for your vehicle if you were to hit a deer.
Although I am not fond of the term because it's somewhat misleading, people refer to having comprehensive and collision coverage together as "full coverage". For people with older vehicles that have less value, it is quite common for drivers to pass on the comprehensive and collision coverage and only carry the required liability coverage. However if you want to be protected by deer without having the cost of carrying full coverage, there is some middle ground that you might want to look into.
Another Option: Choosing comprehensive coverage without collision coverage.
I would guess that with over 90% of the auto insurance policies I see, customers either carry both comprehensive and collision coverage or they carry neither one. A lot of people are not aware of the fact that you can get comprehensive coverage without collision coverage. While this is a little more expensive than just carrying liability coverage, it is not as expensive as carrying full coverage. That is because you are declining to take collision coverage which tends to be more expensive than comprehensive coverage in most instances. (*note: not all auto insurance companies allow customers to do this, but the majority of them do)
So choosing comprehensive coverage without collision collision coverage will not help you with your vehicles in an accident, but it will cover you if you hit a deer. For those who only have liability coverage, I have seen quotes were adding just comprehensive coverage doesn't increase premium that much more. It may be affordable enough to where you should seriously consider the extra coverage. By saying "affordable", I've seen comprehensive coverage range anywhere from as low as an extra five dollars a month. But for most older vehicles with lesser value adding comprehensive coverage usually only raises the rate by around $10 a month. Would you spend an extra $5-10 a month to have peace of mind knowing that if a deer ran out in front of you, you would be covered?
This idea isn't for everyone. Some are you some of you are going to need collision coverage in addition to comprehensive coverage. That is either because of the value of the vehicle or if you have it financed through a car loan. But for those of you who are only carrying liability coverage, it's worth it just to get an idea of what it's going to cost. I think many of you will be surprised to see how much little extra it would be.
There is one major downside to this strategy of only carrying comprehensive coverage and not collision coverage that you need to be aware of. In the event you hit a deer that goes on comprehensive coverage, so no problem. .... But if you swerve to miss a deer and hit something else that would fall under collision coverage. So let's say you are driving down the highway and a deer runs out in front of you you swerve and miss the deer but hit a tree.... If you go with the strategy of only having comprehensive coverage, it would not be covered.
Exclusive Deer Coverage: Rare but becoming more common
This is a fairly new component of an auto insurance policy. Most companies haven't yet offered this on their policy. But I believe it be become more common as time goes on. It's sort of like having just a piece of comprehensive coverage.... The deer coverage option allows you to be covered for deer, but does not offer other types of coverage that comprehensive colverage includes. Examples would be theft, fire, vandalism, weather related damage (hail, falling tree) etc. For the companies that offer deer only coverage, it usually only costs less than half of what comprehensive coverage runs.
There are a lot of things regarding auto insurance coverage that you may hear your friends or neighbors say. While much of it may be believed as true, some of it is true but some of it is NOT. There are a lot of myths/lies going around regarding auto insurance that are completely false! I've compiled a list of the top 10 most common myths/lies that I hear as an agent. Some of these may seem silly and obviously not true, while others may surprise you.
1. Having Comprehensive coverage on an auto insurance policy means that covers everything.
Truth: Comprehensive coverage in some states is known as other-than-collision coverage (OTC). I wished it was named that in all states because the term comprehensive is really a badly named title for the coverage it is. Comprehensive coverage is only one of several main parts to an auto insurance policy. You may have comprehensive coverage but still have inadequate coverage in other areas of your policy.
2. "Full Coverage" means I have everything that my policy has to offer.
Truth: See #1 .... same thing applies. The term full coverage is another misleading term. When people think of "full coverage", they're usually referring to the fact that they have both comprehensive and collision coverage together. But again, just like the example above: comprehensive and collision are only two parts of an auto insurance policy. While you may have comprehensive and collision coverage, aka "full coverage", you may also have lousy coverage on other important parts of your policy.
3. If I let someone borrow my car and they wreck, their insurance will pay for it.
Truth: This is absolutely not true! When there is an accident involving a borrowed vehicle, insurance follows the vehicle, not the driver. Therefore, the vehicles owner will have to file the claim on their own insurance if someone wrecked their car.
4. I have full coverage on any vehicle I drive.
Truth: I can't tell you how many times I've heard people make that statement, but it is completely untrue! No such auto insurance policy exists. While there are some special types of auto insurance policies that will cover drivers for vehicles they do not own, only liability coverage (and sometimes medical and uninsured motorist coverage) can be added to the policy. But what these policies do not cover is comprehensive and collision coverage. So the next time someone tells you that they have full coverage on any vehicle they drive, they either don't understand their coverage. or they're simply full of it!
5. My kids are automatically covered under my policy if they drive any of my insured vehicles.
Truth: Be very careful with this one! This one can get you in huge financial trouble! Any person living in your home that is of driving age needs to be listed on your auto insurance policy. That doesn't necessarily mean they need to be insured, as there are some companies that will allow you to exclude drivers. But anybody living in your household of driving age needs to be listed.
As can be expected, a lot of parents see a huge increase in their auto insurance premium once their children get their drivers license. Too many parents have been burned trying to not insure their children on their auto insurance policy so they can get by with a much cheaper rate. All I can say with this one is be very upfront about your situation with your auto insurance agent. Otherwise trying to hide a kid from your policy can spell disaster if that kid gets in an accident! The first thing the claims adjuster will ask is "why wasn't this person on the policy?". Many adjusters will deny the claim.
6. Shopping around getting multiple auto insurance quotes hurts my credit rating.
Truth: This would be true if you were shopping around for multiple loans, credit cards etc. But as far as getting quotes from auto insurance companies, that is simply not true!
92% of all other insurance companies do run credit as part of their premium calculation. But none of those credit pulls will negative negatively affect your credit score. It just doesn't work that way with auto (or other) insurance like it does applying for multiple credit cards.
7. Having state minimum liability auto insurance coverage is really all you need.
Truth: No matter what state you're in, state minimum liability coverage is lousy! Yes, it will protect you if you were to cause a minor accident. But if you were to cause a major accident, especially one with serious injuries, state minimum liability coverage is far from adequate.
If you were to severely injure someone, the most state minimum liability would pay out to any one driver that you injured is $15,000 in Pennsylvania, $20,000 in Michigan or West Virginia, or $25,000 in Ohio, Virginia or Indiana. With hospital cost nowadays, those limits can be exhausted just by spending one or two days in the hospital. Buying higher limits of liability coverage doesn't really cost that much more. I highly suggest you look into upping your liability coverage.
8. If I loan my car to someone and they crash, my insurance will not go up.
Truth: Many people mistakenly believe this because someone else's accident doesn't go on your driving record. But along with your driving record a.k.a. MVR (motor vehicle report), most insurance companies also use your insurance score a.k.a. CLUE report. If the claim was filed from a crash in which you loaned your car out to someone, that claim will definitely show up on your clue report. And thus it's more than likely your insurance premium will go up as a result. There are a few companies who will cut you some slack on this, but very few.
9. Auto insurance premium is higher for red colored vehicles.
Truth: As silly as this may sound, you'd be amazed at how many people still believe that is true. But it is not. In fact none of the companies I use even ask for the color of the vehicle. The color of your vehicle does not make a difference in insurance premium.
10. If I get a speeding ticket or any other violation in another state, it won't affect my driving record in my home state.
Truth: 20 years ago this may have been true. But states communicate with one another a lot more today than they did in the past. Yes, there is a slim chance that you might get lucky on occasion as not all states communicate as well. But over time your odds are getting smaller and smaller.
Summary: Unless you're getting advice directly from an auto insurance agent, take everything you hear about auto insurance with a grain of salt. These are just some of the common examples. There's plenty more of hogwash out there regarding auto insurance. My suggestion is that you sit down with your auto insurance agent and go over what is covered on your policy. It only takes a few minutes, and any good agent would be happy to go over your policy with you.
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Dan Lyles is an Independent Insurance Agent serving Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia..