Congratulations! Becoming an independent adult can be both exciting and scary. Finding your first job and apartment are milestones to be proud of. Buying your first car insurance policy? That can be a milestone, too, as it’s one more step in taking responsibility for your life and future financial well-being.
Here are some basics to consider as you shop for your first car insurance policy:
Why carry insurance?
Simply put, you must carry car insurance to drive legally. But insurance is really intended to protect you financially, not just make you “legal.” Think about it: if you’re in an accident, proper insurance coverage pays for injuries, as well as having your vehicle repaired—things that can cost multiple thousands of dollars. You’d never be able to afford this without insurance coverage.
What coverages should you carry?
To tag your car, Florida law only requires that you carry a minimum of $10,000 Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and $10,000 Property Damage Liability (PD). If you make car payments, your lender will most likely require that you carry comprehensive and collision. However, unless you absolutely cannot afford it, it makes much better financial sense to add Bodily Injury Liability (BI) to your policy. If you are at fault in an accident, BI will help pay for the victims’ injuries, up to the policy limits. This also allows you to comply with the Florida Financial Responsibility Law, which states that anyone responsible for a crash with injuries must be carrying bodily injury liability limits of at least $10,000 per person, $20,000 per accident, in addition to $10,000 each of PIP and PD. If you don’t have this coverage, you may be required to carry an SR-22 for three years.
The increase in premium for adding BI coverage is far less than what it would cost you if you were sued following an accident (and statistically speaking, young drivers are more likely to be in an accident).
How can you afford it?
There are a few ways you keep your car insurance premiums down. The most obvious is to drive safely and keep your record clean!
A second important thing you can do is protect your credit. Credit scores have become a major factor in quoting car insurance rates. The better your credit, the better the price of your car insurance.
If you have been on your parents’ insurance policy, you may be eligible for a discount for having continuous coverage, so let your agent know if this is the case. (Make sure you don’t let your insurance lapse once you buy it, too.)
Ask your agent about any additional discounts available, such as for safety features like airbags or anti-lock brakes.
And finally, shop around to find the best rate. Just be sure when you’re comparing policies that each agent is quoting you the same coverage and limits.
Providing affordable insurance is where an independent agency like Lakewood Financial really shines. We represent more than 40 different quality car insurance companies, including Progressive, Hartford, Infinity, Safeco, Nationwide, Metropolitan, Travelers, Mercury, GMAC, Foremost—and more. Please call us at 941-747-4600 for a free quote today! We’d love to serve you.