How much car insurance do I need?
Learn about coverage limits, collision and comprehensive, deductibles, and other important terms to help decide on how much is right for you and how you can save.
It's a common question: How much car insurance do I need? Unfortunately, there's no black and white answer. It depends a lot on what coverages you need and the amount of deductible you feel comfortable with. So let's try to break it down:
How much liability insurance do you need?
Liability covers expenses when you're at fault in a crash. The coverages extend to the vehicle and persons impacted by the crash but not the individuals in your car. Most states require you to carry a minimum amount of liability coverage on your vehicle.
No one can predict exactly how much you'd have to pay if you cause a crash. But the key question to ask is: Can you afford to cover any damages exceeding your coverage limits? The higher your liability coverage limits, the more damages your policy might cover.
To get an idea of how much liability coverage you might need, add up the value of your home, cars, savings, and investments. Then subtract your debts (what you owe). For example, if the total "net worth" was $220,000, you could consider $250,000 liability for injuries per accident. If you feel you need additional coverage, you can increase it typically in $50,000 increments up to $500,000. If you feel you need coverage beyond that, consider an umbrella policy.
Do you need comprehensive and/or collision insurance on an old car?
Collision coverage covers repairs to your car if you're in an accident. Comprehensive coverage covers your car if it's stolen or damaged outside of an accident. You might not have not a choice to carry this coverage if your car is leased or financed; most lenders will require you to carry enough coverage to cover the cost of repairs to your car.
If you own the vehicle, you could consider whether the savings from dropping collision and/or comprehensive coverage is enough to offset the risk of having to pay the entire cost of repairing or replacing your car. For example, if your car is totaled from an accident in which the other driver as at fault and has no insurance, hit in a parking lot while you were in the store shopping, or stolen from while you were hiking at a park, do you have the means to replace it without any help from the insurance company?
If your car is older, it might be time to drop the collision and comprehensive coverage and put that money into savings. You can take the cost of collision and comprehensive coverage and see if the insurance policy cost more or the same as the worth of your vehicle. If so, it might be time to drop the coverage. For example, if your car is worth $1,000 and your coverage costs $500 a year plus a $500 deductible, you're not really getting anything for your money.
How much should my collision and comprehensive deductibles be?
This is a balancing act. Higher deductibles typically lower your premium, but will increase your out-of-pocket costs if a loss occurs. Ask yourself how much you're willing and able to pay directly, often on short notice, to potentially save on your premium. If you want to lower the amount you have to pay when a crash occurs, you might want to opt for a lower deductible.
If saving money on your insurance is your motivating factor behind removing your collision and raising your deductible, consider these other car insurance money savings tips.
- Multiline: Check with your insurance company about combining the purchase of your home insurance or renters insurance with your auto insurance.
- Insurance Ratings: When purchasing your vehicle, consider how the insurance company will rate them. Some cars cost more to insure than others.
- Consider sharing your driving information: Programs like Drive Safe & Save™ from State Farm® put you in control of your discount.
At any time, if you have questions about what your vehicle coverage should be, contact an agent today.