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First time purchaser of car insurance

January 22, 2008

I’ve been doing some research on car insurance, now that I’m finally getting myself off of my parents policy. Yeah, I know, I’m a mooch! I originally budgeted $100/month for auto and rental insurance policies. Depending on the coverage i get, this may be too high or too low… But it seems close to right on. I’ve been pricing it out at Geico for now, and once I’ve firmed up the level of coverage I want to pay for, I’ll price shop with other companies. Perhaps there is a discount through my new employer. My cousin also sells insurance, so I’ll be sure to get a quote from her.

Here is a chart of the different prices I was quoted for different options from Geico. (BI = Bodily Injury, PD = Property Damage, MED = Midical, UI = Uninsured motorist, COMP = comprehensive and COLL = Collision). The BI and UI went to higher levels, but Geico told me that I had requested too many quotes before I could fill in the whole chart!


Most people are probably pretty familiar with auto insurance terms. I am not. I’ve never shopped for insurance and had no idea what 15/30/5 meant. Luckily, all the insurance sites did a good job of explaining these terms, and there was also a nice article at the Smart Money site that covers the basics.

To determine the level I need, I checked out emunds.com, which recommends:

General recommendations for liability limits are $50,000 bodily injury liability for one person injured in an accident, $100,000 for all people injured in an accident and $25,000 property damage liability (that is, 50/100/25) given that half of the cars on the road are worth more than $20,000. Here again, though, let your financial situation be your guide. If you have no assets, don’t buy excess coverage.

Ok, simple. I don’t have much for assets, but to go from the state minimum of 15/30/5 to 25/50/25 was only about $40 over the course of six months, so i decided to buy up. In particular, the property damage liability was cheap to increase, so I did. There are a lot of expensive cars in this city, and $5000 wouldn’t begin to repair most of them. As my assets increase, I suppose my coverage levels also would have to increase. I threw in uninsured motorist coverage, just in case. I declined medical (i have medical insurance), roadside assistance and rental coverage.

Now it was time to look at the expensive stuff–collision and comprehensive. For $45 for six months, comprehensive seemed like a good bet. My parents car was stolen last year, and they were kicking themselves for not carrying comprehensive insurance. The next question I was faced with was the biggie: do I want collision insurance? My car is about 8 years old. It’s a Dodge Stratus with 80k miles on it. Oh, and it has a salvaged title. It’s not exactly a junky car, but it’s defintely not nice either. I looked up the Kelly Blue Book Value, and at most it is worth $3400. They won’t do an estimate for the salvage title, so it is defintely worth less than that. The cost of the highest deductible ($1000) is $144.00 for six months. For that I’d be getting about $2000 worth of coverage.

Reasons not to carry collision:

  • I have an emergency fund that could buy a cheap car of similar (or better) value
  • I put a line item in my 2008 budget for a new(er) car fund
  • It isn’t recommended to buy collision/comprehensive if the premiums cost more than 10% of the amount of coverage you are getting (value of car – deductible)

Reasons to carry collision
-I’ve never driven in a city this large before, and I’m a little nervous about it
-I haven’t been in an accident since I was a teenager, but I’m not the worlds best driver
-I can afford it in my budget.

I decided that for the first six months to one year living here, I’m going to carry collision insurance. Then I’ll re-evaluate my options. At that point, if I’m still driving this car, I’d probably drop it. Also, the difference in price for $500 deductible versus a $1000 was almost negligible. Even though I’m generally a fan of higher deductibles (or rather, the lower premiums that come with them), I chose to go with the $500 deductible.

Now that I know exactly what I want, I’m going to see if I can get it for a better price. At first glance, Geico seems to have a really good price, but I want to check a few others before committing.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. SavingDiva permalink
    January 27, 2008 6:54 pm

    When I got off my parents’ car insurance policy, I just purchased car insurance through the same company and with all of the same things that they carried! 🙂 I’m glad to see that you’re taking it a lot more serious than I did.

  2. June 16, 2010 10:32 am

    Ha! I have a Dodge Stratus with a salvaged title, 60,000 miles. Funny!

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  1. My car and I have made things right with the state of California « Stacking Pennies

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