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Car Insurance: Not-So-Frequently-Asked Questions

Many of us are familiar with some of the most frequently asked questions about car insurance; however, what about some of the situations that are less common? What happens to your car insurance policy if you get a divorce? What coverage protects your vehicle if your garage burns down?

Find out answers to these questions and more here.

Does a new driver or vehicle mean a new car insurance policy?

Generally, no. You can add a new driver (such as a teen driver) or a new vehicle on your existing car insurance policy.

Each car insurance company has its own method for doing this, so be sure to contact your coverage provider; your policy won't immediately cover the new driver or car until you formally add them.

Expect your rates to go up a bit, but remember there are ways you can save money on your car insurance.

Who files an insurance claim after an accident?

Both parties file a claim if an accident occurs.

Regardless of whether you're at fault, you should file an accident claim; however, whether you are at fault will typically determine which insurer you'll file with. If you caused the accident, you'll file with your insurance company.

On the other hand, if you were not at-fault—for example, if someone rear-ended you at a light—you'll file a claim with the other driver's insurance company. This is called a “third-party claim."

If you live in a no-fault state, however, you would file a claim with your own insurer, regardless of who was at fault for the accident.

Some drivers believe they can handle the damages on their own (thus avoiding an accident claim and potential rate increases), but this doesn't always work out. Frankly, not everyone is honest. What happens if the other driver just disappears? You're stuck with the full bill.

That said, it's important to obtain the other driver's insurance information. Also, it's a good idea to ask for a copy of the police report.

Will my rates go up if I'm involved in an accident that wasn't my fault?

This depends on your car insurance provider. Unfortunately, even if you aren't at fault, your rates could go up.

Understand that:

  • Some companies increase rates for car insurance regardless of who is at fault for the accident.
  • Your insurance company might utilize an “accident forgiveness" program, meaning certain drivers (usually those with good driving records) won't see rate increases after an accident.
    • NOTE: This type of program typically covers only one accident.
  • Providers often look at the circumstances leading up to the accident, such as:
    • Where the accident took place.
    • Whether the vehicle was parked.
    • The weather conditions.

Your safest bet is to ask your provider directly. It's good to do so before an accident occurs.

How do I insure my antique, vintage, or other collector car?

Each auto insurance provider has its own policies for insuring collector cars such as antique and vintage vehicles, but some factors that play a role in coverage and price include:

  • Whether the vehicle is a primary vehicle or a secondary (“pleasure") vehicle.
    • Often, secondary vehicles get lower rates.
  • Determining who can drive the car.
    • Many insurance companies require drivers with certain numbers of years of driving experience before they'll insure collector vehicles.
  • How often you use the vehicle.
    • If your antique spends more time in the garage than on the road, you could get a lower premium.

Naturally, you want the best coverage at the most affordable price for your valuable set of wheels, so be sure to also ask about any regular discounts that might apply to collector cars, too.

Should I update my policy after a divorce?

Yes. If you keep one or more vehicles in your name after a divorce, you'll want to remove your ex-spouse from your policy. However, do note that this may not be possibly until you are living in separate residences.

At this point, you might also re-evaluate your coverage. For example, your financial situation might change after a divorce, meaning, you might not be able to afford as much coverage. Obviously, you must keep your state's legal minimum insurance requirements, but if your vehicle is paid in full and/or older, you might not need comprehensive and/or collision coverage.

Also consider any teen drivers. If your teen lives with your ex, it might make more sense for him to be on his other parent's policy.

Do women really pay less for car insurance?

While gender is not the only factor that plays in your car insurance rates, women often see lower car insurance quotes than their male counterparts.

Usually, this is because women statistically:

  • Are involved in fewer accidents.
  • Receive fewer traffic violations, including serious cases like DUI.
  • Choose vehicles that cost less to insure.

Remember, car insurance companies aren't biased when it comes to male and female drivers; these are purely statistics. Men can get just as great premiums when they have good driving records, avoid traffic violations, and choose practical vehicles with great safety ratings.

Can my insurance provider use after-market parts to repair my vehicle?

Typically, yes. Unless otherwise stated by your state's auto insurance regulations, car insurance companies can use after-market parts, but they must notify you of each part in a disclosure statement.

However, you can request original manufactured parts. Note that this might increase the amount you pay, i.e., you might have to pay the difference in cost between the after-market parts and the original manufactured parts.

If my garage burns down, will my homeowners insurance or car insurance coverage pay for damages?

Unless otherwise stated in your homeowner's insurance policy, your homeowners insurance coverage will not cover your vehicle in the event your garage burns down.

These damages (or losses) are up to your car insurance company, and even then you must have comprehensive coverage.

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