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Auto Insurance - (also known as vehicle insurance, gap insurance, car insurance, or motor insurance) is insurance purchased for cars, trucks, motorcycles, and other road vehicles. Its primary use is to provide financial protection against physical damage and/or bodily injury resulting from traffic collisions and against liability that could also arise therefrom. The specific terms of vehicle insurance vary with legal regulations in each region.

Auto Insurance can cover some or all of the following items:
  • The insured party (medical payments)
  • The insured vehicle (physical damage)
  • Third parties (car and people, property damage and bodily injury)
  • Third party, fire and theft
  • In some jurisdictions coverage for injuries to persons riding in the insured vehicle is available without regard to fault in the auto accident (No Fault Auto Insurance)
Different policies specify the circumstances under which each item is covered. For example, a vehicle can be insured against theft, fire damage, or accident damage independently.

Excess

       An excess payment, also known as a deductible, is a fixed contribution that must be paid each time a car is repaired with the charges billed to an automotive insurance policy. Normally this payment is made directly to the accident repair "garage" (the term "garage" refers to an establishment where vehicles are serviced and repaired) when the owner collects the car. If one's car is declared to be a "write off" (or "totaled"), then the insurance company will deduct the excess agreed on the policy from the settlement payment it makes to the owner.

If the accident was the other driver's fault, and this fault is accepted by the third party's insurer, then the vehicle owner may be able to reclaim the excess payment from the other person's insurance company.

Voluntary excess

To reduce the insurance premium, the insured party may offer to pay a higher excess (deductible) than the compulsory excess demanded by the insurance company. The voluntary excess is the extra amount, over and above the compulsory excess, that is agreed to be paid in the event of a claim on the policy. As a bigger excess reduces the financial risk carried by the insurer, the insurer is able to offer a significantly lower premium.

Compulsory excess

         A compulsory excess is the minimum excess payment the insurer will accept on the insurance policy. Minimum excesses vary according to the personal details, driving record and insurance company.

Vehicle classification

       Two of the most important factors that go into determining the underwriting risk on motorized vehicles are: performance capability and retail cost. The most commonly available providers of auto insurance have underwriting restrictions against vehicles that are either designed to be capable of higher speeds and performance levels, or vehicles that retail above a certain dollar amount. Vehicles that are commonly considered luxury automobiles usually carry more expensive physical damage premiums because they are more expensive to replace. Vehicles that can be classified as high performance autos will carry higher premiums generally because there is greater opportunity for risky driving behavior. Motorcycle insurance may carry lower property-damage premiums because the risk of damage to other vehicles is minimal, yet have higher liability or personal-injury premiums, because motorcycle riders face different physical risks while on the road. Risk classification on automobiles also takes into account the statistical analysis of reported theft, accidents, and mechanical malfunction on every given year, make, and model of auto.

Reasonable distance estimation
     Another important factor in determining car-insurance premiums involves the annual mileage put on the vehicle, and for what reason. Driving to and from work every day at a specified distance, especially in urban areas where common traffic routes are known, presents different risks than how a retiree who does not work any longer may use their vehicle. Common practice has been that this information was provided solely by the insured person, but some insurance providers have started to collect regular odometer readings to verify the risk.


Odometer-based systems
     Cents Per Mile Now(1986) advocates classified odometer-mile rates, a type of usage-based insurance. After the company's risk factors have been applied, and the customer has accepted the per-mile rate offered, then customers buy prepaid miles of insurance protection as needed, like buying gallons of gasoline (litres of petrol). Insurance automatically ends when the odometer limit (recorded on the car's insurance ID card) is reached, unless more distance is bought. Customers keep track of miles on their own odometer to know when to buy more. The company does no after-the-fact billing of the customer, and the customer doesn't have to estimate a "future annual mileage" figure for the company to obtain a discount. In the event of a traffic stop, an officer could easily verify that the insurance is current, by comparing the figure on the insurance card to that on the odometer.

Critics point out the possibility of cheating the system by odometer tampering. Although the newer electronic odometers are difficult to roll back, they can still be defeated by disconnecting the odometer wires and reconnecting them later. However, as the Cents Per Mile Now website points out:

As a practical matter, resetting odometers requires equipment plus expertise that makes stealing insurance risky and uneconomical. For example, to steal 20,000 miles [32,200 km] of continuous protection while paying for only the 2000 in the 35000 to 37000 range on the odometer, the resetting would have to be done at least nine times, to keep the odometer reading within the narrow 2,000-mile [3,200 km] covered range. There are also powerful legal deterrents to this way of stealing insurance protection. Odometers have always served as the measuring device for resale value, rental and leasing charges, warranty limits, mechanical breakdown insurance, and cents-per-mile tax deductions or reimbursements for business or government travel. Odometer tampering, detected during claim processing, voids the insurance and, under decades-old state and federal law, is punishable by heavy fines and jail.

Under the cents-per-mile system, rewards for driving less are delivered automatically, without the need for administratively cumbersome and costly GPS technology. Uniform per-mile exposure measurement for the first time provides the basis for statistically valid rate classes. Insurer premium income automatically keeps pace with increases or decreases in driving activity, cutting back on resulting insurer demand for rate increases and preventing today's windfalls to insurers, when decreased driving activity lowers costs but not premiums.


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