Cents Per Mile Now[48] (1986) advocates classified odometer-mile rates, a type of usage-based insurance. After the company's risk factors have been applied, and the customer has accepted the per-mile rate offered, then customers buy prepaid miles of insurance protection as needed, like buying gallons of gasoline (litres of petrol). Insurance automatically ends when the odometer limit (recorded on the car's insurance ID card) is reached, unless more distance is bought. Customers keep track of miles on their own odometer to know when to buy more. The company does no after-the-fact billing of the customer, and the customer doesn't have to estimate a "future annual mileage" figure for the company to obtain a discount. In the event of a traffic stop, an officer could easily verify that the insurance is current, by comparing the figure on the insurance card to that on the odometer.
But liability coverage levels come in threes — you’ll probably see something like 50/100/50 up to 250/500/250 in typical policies. You can think of these limits like: individual injuries / total injuries / property damage. Insurers are a little more technical, calling them bodily injury liability, total bodily injury liability and physical damage liability.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, in the United States in the early 21st century, about two-thirds of the money spent on premiums for private passenger auto insurance went to claims. More than half of this amount covered car damage. The rest covered personal injuries. The remaining third of the money spent on premiums covered insurance companies’ expenses—such as commissions, dividends to policyholders, and company operations—and contributed to their profits.
Insurance companies have started using credit ratings of their policyholders to determine risk. Drivers with good credit scores get lower insurance premiums, as it is believed that they are more financially stable, more responsible and have the financial means to better maintain their vehicles. Those with lower credit scores can have their premiums raised or insurance canceled outright.[55] It has been shown that good drivers with spotty credit records could be charged higher premiums than bad drivers with good credit records.[56]
Two of the most important factors that go into determining the underwriting risk on motorized vehicles are: performance capability and retail cost. The most commonly available providers of auto insurance have underwriting restrictions against vehicles that are either designed to be capable of higher speeds and performance levels, or vehicles that retail above a certain dollar amount. Vehicles that are commonly considered luxury automobiles usually carry more expensive physical damage premiums because they are more expensive to replace. Vehicles that can be classified as high performance autos will carry higher premiums generally because there is greater opportunity for risky driving behavior. Motorcycle insurance may carry lower property-damage premiums because the risk of damage to other vehicles is minimal, yet have higher liability or personal-injury premiums, because motorcycle riders face different physical risks while on the road. Risk classification on automobiles also takes into account the statistical analysis of reported theft, accidents, and mechanical malfunction on every given year, make, and model of auto.
Auto insurance is financial protection, and not just for the investment you made when you bought your car. After a really serious accident, bills for damage and injuries can easily reach into hundreds of thousands of dollars. If you happen to cause such a wreck, the victims could sue you. In the worst case scenario, assets such as your savings and home could be seized.
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