Car insurance helps to protect drivers if they are involved in an accident. Insurance coverage typically offers protections against property damage claims, medical expense claims, legal costs associated with an accident and the insured driver’s medical and vehicle repair expenses. Some auxiliary services such as emergency roadside services and rental reimbursement is also offered through auto insurance providers.
Insurance providers typically offer other types of coverage such as renters/homeowners insurance, life and umbrella insurance, professional liability and travel insurance. Buying more than one type of coverage from a single insurer will give the buyer more bargaining power and result in lower rates for a given level of coverage. From now on, the focus will be exclusively on auto insurance, though the other insurance types may be very useful depending on an individual’s circumstances, risk tolerance and plans for the future.
Our Auto Insurance Specialty
When discussing discounts, it is assumed that a private vehicle is in question. Commercial auto and antique car coverage, often called collector auto insurance, are different subtopics within the insurance universe. Commercial and collector auto coverage come with unique risk profiles, coverage limits and premium determination variables that are not discussed in this article.
Car Insurance Costs
Auto insurance is an important investment for anyone with a vehicle. Even minimal coverage can provide a comforting financial cushion that softens the blow from unexpected accidents. Coverage limits are flexible, allowing drivers to buy sufficient protection without inordinate costs. Costs related to auto insurance come from three sources:
- financial obligations outside coverage terms and/or in excess of coverage limits
Premiums are payable whether or not a claim is filed. Premiums may change as a result of at-fault accidents, moving to a new location, vehicle change as well as larger market forces that are not directly linked to variables a driver can control.
Deductibles for various coverage types are determined by the insured driver and can be changed with corresponding changes to future premiums due. If a deductible amount is not paid for a certain coverage, the remaining bills will not covered by the insurance provider. For example, the total cost of a claim may come to 3000 dollars, with the applicable coverage having a 500 dollar deductible when the incident occurred. The driver would pay the first 500 dollars of the claim, with the insurer paying the remaining 2500 dollars. Once again, this is in addition to regular premium payments for the time in question.
The third source of auto insurance costs is one that a driver can hopefully avoid, even in an accident. If premiums and deductibles for a claim are settled, the insurance kicks in. However, a severe or costly accident can result in obligations exceeding insurance limits. In that case, the insured driver is liable for the remaining obligations. Another example: an insurer decides on a maximum coverage of 50,000 dollars with a 500 deductible. Assume that an incident requires 58,000 dollars total. In that case, the 500 deductible and 45,000 insurance payout fail to cover the remaining 8,000 dollars due. Unfortunately the driver would be liable for the outstanding 8,000 dollars.
Car Insurance Costs: What Affects Premiums for Las Vegas Drivers
Coverage extent is not the only variable that influences premiums. A driver’s history has quite a bit to do with what he will be charged if accepted by an insurer. A history of accidents, crime, spotty employment or other “high risk” behavior reflects negatively on the prospective insured driver. On the other hand, a good driving history and stable employment will result in lower-than-average premiums for a given level of coverage. A driver’s age is also an issue. Very young and very elderly drivers are seen as a high risk with correspondingly expensive coverage.
The driver’s address matters. Locations near national borders as well as ports and high-crime cities will naturally lead to higher premiums, especially regarding comprehensive coverage that covers theft and vandalism. Locations with higher-than-usual incidences of natural disasters such as floods or tornadoes can also influence premiums to some extent. Typically, inland Plains and Midwest states have lower premiums than coastal or national-border regions. However, this applies only in the aggregate. Urban locations within the Midwest and Plains states tend to drive up premiums because higher traffic volume and more crime increase the odds of an expensive claim.
Vehicle type makes a difference to an insurer’s risk exposure and consequent premium determination. There is a notion that smaller subcompact cars demand higher premiums than larger vehicles since a smaller car has less driver protection and “cushion” in a collision or Act of God event than a larger car. This is true to an extent, but the variables to consider closely are coverage types and crash safety ratings. A better safety rating will of course bring down that portion of premiums related to bodily injury. On the other hand, it should be clarified that smaller and more fragile subcompact cars will be more expensive in terms of collision and comprehensive coverage since a given incident will damage more of the smaller car relative to its total market value. Car size is likely to be irrelevant when it comes to property damage coverage, barring an exceptionally unwieldy, large or high-performance vehicle.
There is one other factor that influences premiums, especially after an accident: at-fault determination. If an insured driver is found to be at fault, it is likely, though not certain, that premiums for a given level of coverage will rise. Insurers occasionally offer forgiveness and waive the premium raise even if the insured is found to be at fault, but that is not something that a covered driver should assume as a given.
Insurance Costs: Summary
Auto insurance is flexible. Each variable affects the price and scope of coverage. This allow for great flexibility and risk management, but can result in insufficient coverage if a severe enough accident occurs. On the other hand, being over-insured poses a different kind of problem. Low deductibles and very high coverage limits translate into pricey premiums. Over time, these high premiums may not be worth their cost considering the very low probability of a high-cost incident that would activate the upper echelons of coverage limits.
Scope of Coverage
There are several types of insurance coverage: property damage, injury to self, injury to others and vehicle coverage. Property damage refers to property other than the insured driver’s car. Other vehicles, telephone poles, buildings and other things that a car can hit are included in the “property” rubric.
Injury to self is covered to some extent by medical payments, uninsured motorist and under-insured motorist coverage. These types of coverage will pay for diagnosis and treatment costs related to an accident up to a pre-set limit. Injury to others in your vehicle is also covered under medical payments, while injury to other parties involved in an accident is under the purview of bodily injury liability.
Vehicle coverage focuses on what can happen to your vehicle. This is different from “property coverage” since “property” refers to others’ property damaged in an accident. Thus, if a driver wants his car covered, he should purchase vehicle coverage since “property” excludes the insured driver’s vehicle.
Comprehensive and collision coverage is most directly linked to vehicle damage. Collision protection refers to repair or replacement cost of a vehicle damaged in an accident. Comprehensive auto insurance pays for vehicle damage specifically not caused by an accident. Damage from floods, hail, theft and other “acts of God” are within the domain of comprehensive coverage. It should be emphasized that comprehensive and collision coverage are mutually exclusive. Comprehensive coverage does not cover damage specifically caused by an accident, while collision coverage covers nothing but accident-related repair/replacement costs. Neither coverage pays for miscellaneous items in a car that may have been damaged or stolen.
Emergency roadside service will help with certain aspects of vehicle breakdown, as specified in a given policy. Note that this is usually a “quick fix” type of situation that will not go into a detailed inspection of possible problems.
Rental reimbursement relates to the insured driver’s expense of using a rental car while a vehicle is being fixed or while an insured driver shops for a new vehicle. Rental reimbursement can be a great convenience and money-saver.
Tips and Tricks if Filing an Insurance Claim
Stay at the scene until cleared to leave by law enforcement. Don’t assume you can leave without contacting the authorities just because an accident seems “small.” Make sure to leave with detailed vehicle and insurance information of all the parties involved in the accident. Call the police and document police officers’ identification since you may need to cite particular officers’ description of the accident scene when insurers examine a claim. Law enforcement can make mistakes or get wrong impression. Proper accountability and accurate documentation is very important when it comes to claim investigations. Remember that determining fault in an accident has tremendous influence in extent of insurance payouts and future premium increases, if any.
Make sure that reports to your insurance company, police and to other witnesses is consistent. Inconsistencies or conflicting claims about property damage, legal violations or extent of injury raise very suspicious eyebrows, especially from insurance investigators. If intentional lies are discovered, your coverage for the incident can be waived, leaving you on the hook for a potentially crippling financial obligation. It is not worth the risk to mislead investigators or police regarding the details of an accident. Moreso, it is within your rights to make sure police reports and other documentation such as medical expenses are accounted for so that the insurer is fully aware of expenses that should be covered.
Do not admit fault to anyone, even informally. If you are at fault, investigators and law enforcement will let you know. Simply let insurers and the police assign fault. Don’t volunteer to “plead guilty” without due examination of the facts. Beyond honestly reporting the facts, confession is not a virtue when it comes to guilt in traffic accidents. Be honest with the police and your insurance provider, and only them. Until everything is sorted out, do not talk about the accident with insurance representatives from other companies or family and friends. Instead, politely direct all inquiries about the accident, including who you think may have been at fault, to your insurance provider.
Las Vegas Car Insurance Summary
Though auto insurance can seem overwhelming at first glance, millions of drivers have coverage and handle the dynamics of auto insurance just fine. The most important takeaways when buying insurance are as follows:
1. Pick a level and scope of coverage sufficient to protect you from even remotely likely incidents in Las Vegas, Nevada. This is especially relevant when it comes to deductibles. High deductibles are tempting since they lower premiums, but make sure that if an incident occurred, the the relevant deductibles could be satisfied.
2. Make sure premiums are paid on time and in full. Failure to pay car insurance premiums can nullify coverage.
3. If in an accident, be honest with your insurer and law enforcement. Other than that, do not discuss details of the accident, nor your opinion of who might have been innocent or at fault.
With this information, you are armed and ready to take on auto insurance in Las Vegas. Though good driving is rewarded in Las Vegas, a premium won’t necessarily go down even with the best driving record. Larger market forces, especially those pertaining to medical costs, legal proceedings and regulatory requirements, can force insurers to raise rates even for perfect drivers. In that case, it may be tempting to adjust coverage levels by raising deductibles or lowering total payouts per incident. Doing so prudently can save you money, but remember that the money saved through low premiums for bare-bones coverage will be negated many times over by financial obligations imposed in case of a sufficiently extreme accident that exceeds payout limits.