Standard Car Insurance

Standard car insurance is not a particular type of policy, but rather a common set of coverage required by state insurance laws. Standard auto insurance includes minimum liability coverage, but some states require additional medical cost coverage, uninsured motorist coverage, or personal injury protection as part of standard car insurance. Learn more about the types of auto insurance coverage available to you and start comparing standard car insurance quotes for free with our guide below.

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Natasha McLachlan is a writer who currently lives in Southern California. She is an alumna of California College of the Arts, where she obtained her B.A. in Writing and Literature. Her current work revolves around insurance guides and informational articles. She truly enjoys helping others learn more about everyday, practical matters through her work.

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Laura Walker graduated college with a BS in Criminal Justice with a minor in Political Science. She married her husband and began working in the family insurance business in 2005. She became a licensed agent and wrote P&C business focusing on personal lines insurance for 10 years. Laura serviced existing business and wrote new business. She now uses her insurance background to help educate...

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Reviewed by Laura Walker
Former Licensed Agent

UPDATED: Nov 9, 2020

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Standard car insurance is not a particular type of policy, but rather a common set of coverage that combine to give you the basic insurance coverage needed both under the law and for your own best protection.

While the standard coverage offered will vary from one insurer to another and the minimum requirements will vary from one state to another, they all provide for some common needs such as liability insurance, personal injury protection, and uninsured/underinsured motorist protection.

Liability insurance comes in two parts: property damage and bodily injury. Neither one is intended to benefit you or your passengers, but is meant to protect the people and property of others if you are at fault in an accident.

Bodily injury protection will pay for injuries you cause to others, and property damage liability pays for damages to property such as vehicles, mailboxes, and personal property damaged inside of vehicles.

Liability insurance of both types also protects you against being sued. If you cause injuries or damages and the person wants to take you to court, this coverage will pay for your representation and judgments, up to the limits of the policy.

Personal Injury Protection is commonly referred to as PIP insurance. PIP insurance will pay the bodily injury costs of yourself and your passengers if you are at fault in an accident. PIP serves another purpose as well – it will pay for your immediate medical care if you are injured and someone else is at fault, leaving the collection of the costs to the insurance companies to sort out after your health has been seen to.

In some states, PIP is mandatory and part of a standard insurance package, but other states regard your welfare as your own problem and do not require it.

If you are hit by a person who does not have insurance, or the damages are higher than the amount of coverage that person has, then you will be glad that your state requires uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Although not part of standard car insurance in all states, it is a boon for those who are required to carry it, or who have the foresight to add it to their standard insurance plan.

Comprehensive insurance is not standard, but it is worth having in many cases. Comprehensive coverage will cover burglary and vandalism, a rock that gets thrown up off the road and breaks your windshield, and other damages that are not directly related to a collision.

If you are on a budget and do not have a car loan, this part of your insurance plan can be passed over, but you will be responsible for the costs above out of your own pocket when they happen.

Collision insurance is not standard, but it may be required by the company which financed your car. Collision insurance pays for repairs to your vehicle if you are in an accident, or if the other person was not insured.

If your car is paid for, you can skip having collision coverage as long as you understand that you will either have to pay for repairs yourself or settle for driving a car that never got repaired at all.

Medical payments coverage is standard in some states, but not most of them. However, carrying this type of coverage is a good idea for anyone, because it will pay your medical costs and lost wages if you are unable to return to work for a period of time after an accident.

Without medical payments, if you are not able to return to work, you will face the possibility of losing your home, your car, utility bills, and any other regular expenses, not to mention feeding your family. Whether it is required or not, medical payments coverage is something that almost everyone would do well to have.

There are other coverages that are available to drivers, such as roadside assistance, towing, and rental car reimbursement. These coverages are not standard in any state, and will result in paying slightly higher premiums. You do not have to have these types of insurance, but they can potentially save you hundreds of dollars if you do.

Remember, the cost of purchasing insurance is minor compared to the costs of paying for things out of pocket, and insurance is not usually an all-at-once cost, where each of these optional items would be a sudden and unexpected expense if you don’t have the insurance.

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