Educational Consumer Tips


Author: Better Business Bureau

The following is BBB general information and is not intended as a report on any specific company.

Automobile insurance plays an important role in protecting consumers from serious financial losses that can result from accidents. The BBB offers the following advice to help you choose the best insurance coverage for your needs. 

Basic types of auto insurance coverage include: 

*Bodily Injury Liability. Pays your legal defense costs and claims against you if your car injures or kills someone. Covers family members living with you and others driving with your permission. 

*Property Damage Liability. Pays your legal defense costs and claims against you if your car damages another's property. Does not cover your property, including your auto. 

*Medical Payments or Personal Injury Protection. Pays medical expenses that result from an accident for you and others riding in your car. Also pays for you or your family members injured while riding in another's car or while walking. 

*Collision. Pays for repairs of damage to your car caused by a collision with another vehicle or any other object, regardless of who was responsible. 

*Comprehensive Physical Damage. Pays for damages to your car resulting from theft, fire, hail, vandalism, or a variety of other causes. 

*Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist. Pays for costs related to injuries or property damage to you or other occupants of your car when caused by an uninsured, underinsured, or hit-and-run driver. 

Savings Checklist 

To help find the best coverage for your needs, consider the following tips. 

Comparison Shop
Prices for the same coverage can vary significantly from company to company. You should get at least three different quotes. Compare the rates with choosing a higher deductible. Deductibles represent the amount of money you pay before your insurance company fulfills a claim. By requesting higher deductibles on collision and comprehensive coverage, you can lower your insurance costs substantially. 

Decline Comprehensive and/or Collision Coverage on Old Cars
It may not be cost effective to have collision or comprehensive coverage on cars worth less than a few thousand dollars because any claim you make would not substantially exceed annual cost and deductible amounts. 

Buy a "Low Profile, Low Maintenance" car
Cars that are expensive to repair or are favorite targets for thieves have much higher insurance costs. 

Low Mileage Discounts
Some companies offer discounts to motorists who drive less than a predetermined number of miles a year. 

Location Considerations
Premium costs tend to be lowest in rural communities and highest in cities. 

Automatic Seat Belt and/or Airbag Discounts. 
Some coverage provides discounts if you have automatic seat belts and/or airbags. 

Anti-Lock Brakes
Anti-lock brakes improve steering control and stability when a car is brought to a stop, thus reducing accidents. New York State requires insurers to give discounts for cars equipped with anti-lock brakes. 

Other Discounts

Some insurers offer discounts for a variety of other qualifications such as: no accidents in three years; driver training courses; anti-theft devices; good grades for students; having more than one car insured with that company; drivers over 50 years of age. 


If you are involved in an auto accident, take the following steps: 

*Don't leave the scene. 

*Call for medical assistance if there are injuries. Provide basic first aid. 

*Call a law enforcement officer if needed. Get the officer's name and police station address. Ask when the accident report will be filed, its case number and how to get a copy. 

*Take careful note of the date and time of the accident; street and city; weather and road conditions; direction and speed you and other drivers were going; the license plate, driver's license and insurance information numbers of each driver involved. Phone your insurance agent or a local company representative as soon as possible. Ask your agent how to proceed, including what forms or documents will be needed to support your claim. Keep records of your expenses because any you incur because of an automobile accident may be reimbursed under your policy, and keep copies of your paperwork. 

For more information, contact: 

Better Business Bureau Serving Upstate NY 
(800) 828-5000 

New York State Insurance Department 
(800) 342-3736 

New York State Consumer Protection Board 
(800) 697-1220 

National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) 
2301 McGee Street Suite 800 Kansas City, MO 64108-2662 
(816) 842-3600 

This report is general in nature and is not intended as a Business Review on any company, service or product.