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5 Confusing Car Insurance Terms Explained

By Andrew Lu | Last updated on

If you drive a car, you'll need car insurance, and you've likely been introduced to the world of confusing car insurance terms.

Prices for car insurance can range from less than $100 to well above several hundred a month. Some obvious factors affecting car insurance prices are the type of vehicle you drive and your driving history.

But even considering these variables, you'll see a wide range of products and prices available to you. What distinguishes one plan from another will depend on the fine print, or the confusing car insurance terms. Here are five car insurance terms you should become familiar with:

  1. Comprehensive. In the real world, "comprehensive" usually means something similar to "everything." So if you purchase comprehensive coverage, you would expect it to cover everything that could damage your car. However, in the auto insurance world, comprehensive actually has a much more limited definition. It can involve coverage of all things other than collision. That excludes some basic things like damage to another car, property damage, and personal injury..
  2. Bodily Injury Liability Insurance. Intuitively, this covers bodily injury. But it doesn't cover your own bodily injuries. Instead, it usually covers any harm you may inflict on an innocent third party.
  3. Property Damage Liability Insurance. This covers damage to another vehicle or to property caused by your car. It usually doesn't cover damage to your own car or property.
  4. Personal Injury Protection (PIP). PIP covers your own medical expenses should you get injured in a car accident. It may also cover things like funeral expenses, lost wages, and loss of essential services.
  5. Deductibles. A deductible is the amount you will have to pay out of pocket for each car insurance claim. So if you have a high deductible, be prepared to pay a lot out of pocket before seeing the benefits of your insurance policy kick in.

Keep in mind that different insurance companies may have slightly different ways in which they define these terms. Be sure to carefully review your policy for the precise definitions that affect you.

Do you have more questions about car insurance? Head over to the FindLaw Answers Car Purchases & Repairs forum or Auto Accidents forum to interact with our online community of legal contributors. Once you post a question, you'll typically get a response within 48 hours.

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