Basic Auto Policies: Test Your Knowledge

Drivers only answered 3 out of 10 questions related to comprehensive, collision and UM/UIM coverages correctly. As advisors, can you do better?

A recent Insurance.com survey of 500 drivers found that respondents could only correctly answer three out of 10 multiple-choice questions about the coverage offered by their auto policies.

The results show motorists are likely making mistakes when purchasing policies, especially if they do so through increasingly popular online services that cannot offer tailored guidance like an agent.

Women scored the highest—35 percent—while men answered an average of 27 percent of the survey questions correctly. Those who claimed to have read their policies cover-to-cover scored 28 percent, while those who reported never reading their policies got the highest average of 35 percent. Drivers rating themselves as having “excellent” auto insurance knowledge scored the lowest.

Experience also seems to matter: respondents aged 40 and older answered 39 percent of the questions correctly, while those ages 18 to 29 scored 24 percent.

How do you stack up? Take the entire quiz or answer the survey’s five most difficult questions in the following slides.

Select multiple answers:

  • Damage to my car if I crash it
  • Damage to my car if an object falls on it, like a tree
  • Damage to my car if I hit an animal, like a deer
  • Damage to my car from a flood
  • Property damage to others if I cause a crash
  • Injuries to passengers in my own car
  • Theft of my car

What does comprehensive coverage pay for?

Two percent of respondents correctly answered:

  • Damage to my car if an object falls on it, like a tree
  • Damage to my car if I hit an animal, like a deer
  • Damage to my car from a flood
  • Theft of my car

The average deductible for comprehensive has increased from $100 in 2003 to $126.40 in 2010, according to a Mitchell International study. The company speculates that vehicle owners are more willing to absorb more of a financial impact of a potential comprehensive claim over the risk of a possible collision claim. Collision deductibles increased from $100 to $110.25 in that same period.

 

Select multiple answers:

  • Low mileage
  • Using garage for vehicle
  • Anti-lock brakes
  • Anti-theft devices
  • "Good student" discount with a 3.0  GPA or higher
  • Lane-departure warning system
  • "Mature driver" (over 55) defensive driving course

What are typical discounts auto insurance companies will offer if you qualify?

Seven percent correctly answered:

  • Low mileage
  • Anti-lock brakes
  • Anti-theft devices
  • "Good student" discount with a 3.0  GPA or higher
  • “Mature driver” (over 55) defensive driving course

An atypical discount is a driver’s use of Facebook. Esurance offers drivers in Texas a 5 percent discount  and drivers in Arizona a 10 percent discount on their car insurance policies for “liking” Esurance on Facebook.

Select multiple answers:

  • Your age
  • Your gender
  • Your address
  • The length of your daily commute
  • Your occupation
  • Your credit history
  • Your past  accidents
  • Tickets  you have received
  • The model of your car
  • The year of your car
  • The color of your car

What factors can car insurance companies typically use when setting rates for full coverage?

Eight percent correctly answered:

  • Your age
  • Your gender
  • Your  address
  • The length of your daily commute
  • Your  occupation
  • Your credit history
  • Your past accidents
  • Tickets you have received
  • The model of your car
  • The year of your car

Agents typically consider everything but the color of your car. As far as discounts based on car models, Insure.com ranked the Ford Edge SE as the cheapest 2013 model to insure. Other inexpensive cars to insure include the Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo, Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium, Kia Sportage and the Jeep Patriot Sport.

The 10 most expensive cars to insure include eight Mercedes-Benz models—the most expensive being the 12-cylinder CL600 at $3,357 a year—and two Porsche models.

Select multiple answers:

  • Claims you make even if you have been late paying your premium
  • Car damage  to someone you hit who doesn't have insurance
  • Bodily injury to you and your passengers if your car is hit by someone without insurance
  • Bodily injury to you and your passengers if your car is hit by a hit-and-run driver

What does uninsured motorist (UM) coverage pay for?

Fourteen percent correctly answered:

  • Bodily injury to you and your passengers if your car is hit by someone without insurance
  • Bodily injury to you and your passengers if your car is hit by a hit-and-run driver

In claim situations, where the investigation shows the insured was liable for the accident (rather than the uninsured or underinsured motorist), the insured cannot recover under a UM or UIM policy. However, juries sometimes grant damages based on the injury rather than negligence. AA&B’s Down to Cases columnist Barry Zalma details how a State Farm case raises questions about potential remedies available to insurers.

Zalma also opines in his analysis of Helyn Byrd v. Wendelynne Ortiz et al.  that agent must  explain to the insured the use of uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. By specifying a particular limit for liability and uninsured motorist coverage, the agent exposes himself to a suit.

  • Damage to my car if I crash it
  • Damage to my car if an object falls on it, like a tree
  • Damage to my car if I hit an animal, like a deer
  • Damage to my car from a flood
  • Property damage to others if I cause a crash
  • Injuries to passengers in my own car
  • Theft of my car

What does collision coverage pay for?

Twenty-three percent of respondents correctly answered:

  • Damage to my car if I crash it

Even celebrities aren’t immune to auto accidents. These 7 celebrities—including the traffic-challenged Lindsay Lohan—may have contacted their insurers regarding collision claims in 2012.

Did you have fun testing your auto insurance knowledge? Take the entire quiz at Insurance.com. Will you fare better than the average driver?

Other questions include:

  • What does auto liability insurance pay for? (26 percent answered correctly)
  • If a friend told you she has liability limits of 25/50/40, what does that mean? (41 percent )
  • If your car is totaled, what does gap insurance pay for? (55 percent)
  • What does Personal Injury Protection or Medical Payments coverage pay for? (69 percent)
  • If a friend borrows your car and crashes it, whose insurance pays?   (71 percent)
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