To protect yourself from the possible financial responsibility of an automobile accident, it makes sense to have adequate coverage in place, based on your particular financial needs.

If you have any doubts about the appropriate level of automobile coverage that’s right for you, we have a broad variety of options through many insurers, and are happy to work with you to find the best buy for your needs.

Required, or “compulsory” insurance. (The minimum the state requires you to have.)

Part 1: BODILY INJURY TO OTHERS: Provides up to $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident for your liability if someone is hurt in an accident you have caused (except guest passengers) that occur in Massachusetts. (For broader coverage, see part 5 below)

Part 2: PERSONAL INJURY PROTECTION: Pays you for lost wages (@75%), and medical expenses up to $8,000. (Motorcyclists beware – this gives no coverage while on a motorcycle. Motorcyclists should buy Medical Payments, # 6, below)

Part 3: UNINSURED MOTORISTS: Offers protection to you for expenses of injuries caused by an owner or operator of an uninsured vehicle (up to $20,000 / $40,000 minimum, though most people buy the same amount as they choose for Part 5, optional bodily injury).

Part 4: PROPERTY DAMAGE: Covers your legal responsibility for costs to repair or replace damage to property of others caused by your car or one driven by you or a household member. Minimum limit is $5,000, but higher amounts are relatively inexpensive and strongly recommended. Most people get $100,000, for only a few dollars more than the $5,000 minimum limit.

Optional Coverages – the coverages above the minimum the Commonwealth requires you to have

Part 5: OPTIONAL BODILY INJURY TO OTHERS: Covers your legal liability for costs of injury or death to others caused by your car or one driven by you, (including in the U.S. or Canada). This is where we see the large lawsuits and jury awards. Repairing people costs a lot more than repairing cars. Motorcyclists note; “Guest passengers” coverage is excluded for motorcycles, but may be purchased separately, and is a good idea if you ever have guests.

Limits for Bodily Injury to Others are expressed in two numbers. For example, $100,000 / 300,000 limits provide a maximum of $100,000 to any single person’s claim against you, and $300,000 as a total limit resulting from all claimants from any one accident. (Four people in the car you hit could collect $75,000 each, but not $100,000 each)

Part 6: MEDICAL PAYMENTS: Medical expense reimbursement for you or your passengers, when in or struck by another car. Think of this as “goodwill coverage” for guest passengers in your car, as well as additional coverage to you for medical bills, lost wages, or other related payments. You don’t need to sue or be sued to collect under this part.

Part 7: COLLISION: Damage to insured auto caused by collision or upset. A $500 deductible is standard. A $300 deductible may be available for additional cost; increased $1,000 or $2,000 deductibles are available for lower cost to you. These higher deductibles are usually more attractive on newer, more expensive cars, since the credit for higher deductibles is a percentage of the cost for the $500 deductible. Thus the savings for a $1,000 deductible may be $300 or $400 on a new Lexus; but coverage with a $500 deductible on that old Sentra may be less than $100. Call us for specifics when you’re ready to buy a new car, and we’ll be happy to review the costs with you to help you come to the best decision.

Curious Detail: damages resulting from collisions with animals (hit a deer) fall under Comprehensive coverage, part 9 below, not Collision. Go figure.

Part 8: LIMITED COLLISION: caused by other than one-car accidents, in which you are 50% or less at fault, and where the responsible driver can be identified. Be sure to get license and registration information from the other party if you buy this coverage!

Part 9: COMPREHENSIVE: Damage to a vehicle caused by something other than collision, such as fire, theft, or vandalism. A $500 deductible is standard but may be reduced to $300 for additional cost, or increased to $1,000 or $2,000 for lower cost. This is the portion of your insurance where alarm credits and recovery devices (LoJack) can reduce your cost. As with collision, higher deductibles generally make most sense with more expensive cars.

Glass coverage is also included under comprehensive. Standard coverage has no deductible (on glass), but you can save money with an optional $100 deductible. Most people select no ($0) deductible.

Part 10: RENTAL: Reimbursement for auto rental expense typically up to $15 per day ($450 total), $30 per day ($900 total), or $100 per day ($3,000 total) while the auto is being repaired after a covered loss. Considering how long it can take to repair a vehicle, and how disruptive not having your car can be, this is a good coverage to buy. Note: you must buy collision to get this too.

Part 11: TOWING & LABOR: Reimbursement for towing and emergency repair of your vehicle, up to $25 or $50 per disablement. Note: you must buy collision to get this too.

Part 12: UNDERINSURED MOTORIST: Protection for bodily injury to you caused by another insured vehicle, to the extent your coverage exceeds their coverage. You may buy up to your Part 5 (Bodily Injury to Others) limit, which most people do.