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Is Paying for Auto Insurance Extras Worth the Added Cost?

If you’ve ever purchased your own auto insurance policy then you already know that there are tons of extras that companies try to sell you in addition to your standard liability coverage. Most of the extras are actually very beneficial to drivers but can be purchased from other places.

So then the question is, should you purchase supplemental auto coverage from your insurer or a third party? To help you decide, let’s take a look at whether getting the extras with auto insurance is actually worth it.

Typical Auto Insurance Coverage Options

There are typical auto insurance coverage options that you could expect to receive from any company. They include the following:

  • Bodily Injury Liability (BI): Bodily injury liability coverage will insure you if you’re at fault in an accident and cause bodily harm to the driver or passengers in the other vehicle. The coverage will pay a specific amount for one injured party and up to a total amount for everyone involved. Since liability auto insurance is required in every state except for New Hampshire, you have a minimum coverage amount to purchase but you should get the level of coverage you need to avoid paying out of pocket in a real accident.
  • Property Damage Liability (PD): Property damage liability coverage will pay for damages you are responsible for in regards to an automobile or private possession that have been damaged or lost after an accident. Like bodily injury liability, property liability is required by law in 49 states.
  • Uninsured Motorist/Underinsured Motorist: Uninsured/underinsured coverage options are either offered combined or separate. Uninsured motorist coverage makes sure that if a driver without liability insurance hits you, your insurance company will cover the costs. This is beneficial since most uninsured motorists don’t have enough money to pay out of pocket (otherwise they’d be paying for coverage).
  • Collision/Comprehensive: While collision and comprehensive insurance are not required by law anywhere in the country (unless you’re financing a car), they are pretty common. Collision insurance protects your car if you collide with another car and you’re at fault while comprehensive insurance protects your car if anything damages it other than another driver (deer, rocks, hail, etc.).

These coverage options are beneficial and could spare you thousands, or even tens of thousands of dollars, in repair costs if you’re in an accident. But of course, there are extras that auto insurance companies offer which can be beneficial, too. The question is do you really need them from your insurance company?

The Extras and Their Alternatives

Depending on the insurance company you work with, you may have been offered various forms of supplement auto insurance and quirky extras while purchasing coverage. Here are just a few that you could run into:

Option #1: Medical Payments

Medical payments are offered by insurance companies to give the policyholder access to medical care based on the payment amount chosen. For instance, if you opt for $10,000 in medical payment coverage then you could receive up to that amount if you are hurt in the accident.

Alternative: Health Insurance

If you already have health insurance or plan to get it, you may not need to add this coverage to your policy. In some instances, doing so could result in an extra $100 for a six-month policy. If you already are covered by a health insurance policy then adding this option probably wouldn’t be worth it.

Option #2: Roadside Assistance

Depending on the coverage you have, roadside assistance could offer you towing, battery jump start, flat tire change, lockout service and emergency fuel and fluid delivery. The cost of this assistance could be as little as $.50 a month.

Alternative: AAA Membership

Some drivers opt to become AAA members instead of picking up roadside assistance. Being a member usually means you get roadside assistance, trip maps, tour book guides, member-only discounts, exclusive travel agency access, discounts on AAA insurance and financial services for around $60 a year or $5 a month.

If you already have AAA or want the additional services they offer, it’s not necessary to pick up the roadside assistance coverage from your auto insurer. Since it’s so cheap, however, you could add it on as backup without spending much at all.

Option #3: Rental Car Reimbursement

This option will pay the expenses to rent a car if you have a loss covered under your comprehensive or collision coverage. The amount to pay varies based on how much you want the company to pay per day (and in total), but even for expensive cars it rarely exceeds $10 per month.

Alternative: Keep Money Available

There doesn’t seem to be an alternative to rental car reimbursement aside from keeping money in an emergency account until the time comes. At least this way you could grow interest on the money that you’ve set aside and use it for something else if needed.

How to Get Bang for Your Buck

After comparing costs, you may decide that the extras won’t do much for you. However, if the extras cost a bit more than their alternatives but you still want to take them on to keep all of your services under one roof, you could still get some bang for your buck with your insurance company by doing the following:

  • Seek the discounts: When you’re looking to save money, one of the best ways to go is to look for auto insurance discounts. There are tons of discounts out there, including safe driver and student discounts. Check them out!
  • Look for Pay-as-You-Drive (PAYD) offers: Some companies offer discounts for paying as you drive. For instance Progressive Direct offers a Snapshot Discount that allows you to save money as you drive by plugging a monitoring device in your car that keeps track of how you drive (not how fast or where). By taking advantage of this offer, you could save up to 30 percent on coverage.
  • Change your deductibles: Raising your deductible on your car insurance could save you money on your monthly premium, but if you take this route it’s important to make sure you actually have the money set aside if you need it.

For the most part, the extras that car insurance companies offer could be of great benefit to drivers if they are not already taking advantage of other options. The best way to determine whether they are best for you is to carefully look at the costs for your alternatives then decide what benefits you get in return.

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This entry was posted on Saturday, December 4th, 2010 and is filed under Auto Insurance. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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