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With so many different policies, prices and people, finding the right auto insurance can be a real challenge. If you just bought a car or are looking to switch insurance policies, finding the one that fits your budget and your needs involves a lot of research and an understanding of what you want. While it’s tempting to pick auto insurance solely based on price, it does you more harm than good in the long run.

Every insurance policy is different but the simple truth is that cheap is not going to get you far. Cheapest usually lines up with your state’s minimum liability coverage and while that has a gleaming luster, minimum means minimum. When it comes to you and your loved ones’ safety, you should never take chances. No matter how safe of a driver you are, there is no guarantee the person next to you is, too. Cheaper auto insurance means less coverage, less protection and often times more hassle. So, regardless of how cheap or expensive the insurance policy you’re considering is, what are all of the things you have to consider?

Liability Coverage

Liability Coverage policies are the general types of policies that cover the expenses if you are at fault in the accident. They entail bodily injury liability and property damage liability. Bodily injury liability covers the injuries and medical costs of the people in the other car. Each policy differs at ratios such as “20/50,” up to $20,000 per person in the other car or a total of $50,000 for all of the people in the car, or “100/300,” and so on. Property damage liability pays for the damage done to the other car. Costs depend on accident, but also on the type of car.

The policies that cover the damages and injuries of you and the people in your car are personal injury protection policy, uninsured motorist coverage, collision repair and comprehensive. Personal injury protection policy pays for the medical expenses after the accident and may even cover lost wages. Like the name of the policy, uninsured motorist coverage covers the costs of damages if the other person involved in the accident does not have insurance. Collision policy covers the cost of repairs of your car and the comprehensive policy covers the cost of you car if it is stolen.

So what does this mean if you choose to go with a cheaper auto insurance policy?

Less Coverage, Less Protection

The aftermath of any car accident is never pretty. Costs up quickly and usually amount to something far more burdensome that you have initially predicted. Cheaper auto insurance keeps a distance when you’re filing a claim and so whatever money you may have saved initially, goes back out pretty quickly. It’s pretty straight forward, but is forgotten often. To know how much coverage is enough, it’s important to understand the area you live in and do your research. Most importantly it’s vital that you speak with representatives from several insurance companies.

Higher Deductibles

One of the benefits of good auto insurance is that it usually means lower deductibles. Cheaper auto insurance isn’t as generous. Car accidents are stressful enough to begin with and auto insurance companies won’t start repairs or coverage until you have paid your deductibles, which can sometimes be a thousand dollars. Cheap car insurance can usually cover about $20,000 of injuries and about $5,000 in property damage. Yes, you will be saving a lot per month by paying in the double digits, but if by chance an uninsured driver hits your car, you’re out of luck. The couple of hundred dollars that you may have saved per month is a fraction of what the damages may be.

In general, lower limits on any of the policies means higher liability for you. No one plans to be in a car accident, it’s called an accident for a reason. But the truth is that there are millions of car accidents every year and car insurance shouldn’t be am option. Your state’s minimum liability coverage is a start, but it is definitely not enough to provide you with a peace of mind. Cheap auto insurance is always tempting, but it is usually never worth it. While it’s nice to save a buck here and there, when it comes to auto insurance, you might want to spend that extra dollar.

Stephanie Wilmsmeyer is a State Farm auto insurance agent in Columbia, MO.

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