Introduction to Auto Insurance

What is Auto Insurance?

When you buy an auto insurance policy, you are actually buying several individual coverages. Each coverage protects you against different types of losses. A brief description of the six basic coverages is provided here.

* These four coverages are required in Kansas.

Coverages Required in Kansas

Kansas law mandates that every automobile insurance policy sold in the state must have these minimum coverages:

How Your Rates Are Determined

Generally speaking, two factors govern what you pay for auto insurance: Underwriting and Rating

Underwriting is when an insurance company considers your application for auto coverage, it will take into account a number of different factors about you and your driving habits. Just because you apply with a certain company does not mean you will be provided coverage by that company. If approved for coverage, some of the factors that will influence your premiums are: driving record, where you live, your car make and model, how much you drive, gender, age, and prior insurance coverage.

After completing the underwriting, the insurance company will place you in one of the three basic categories of drivers listed below. Each company adopts its own rating system for deciding whether to insure a person. Those with the lowest risk factors (least likely to have a claim) will receive the lowest rates.

Preferred— This category is intended for drivers that companies consider to be the best risks, which usually means the safest drivers. These drivers usually have clean driving records over the past three to five years. They are given the lowest rates.

Standard— This category is intended for moderate risk drivers. The rates are higher than the preferred rates. These drivers are usually driving family-type cars and have a reasonably clean driving record.

Non-Standard— This category is intended for drivers that companies consider to be high risk. Usually drivers in this category have the highest rates. These drivers may include under age 25 drivers with less driving experience, drivers with tickets or accidents, drivers with a poor premium payment history, and drivers with a reckless or drunk-driving history.

The Shopper's Guide

The plans shown include optional coverages of comprehensive and collision with deductibles of $100 for comprehensive and $250 for collision.

There are two plans quoted:

Rates shown are for most typical drivers and the most common car. We have shown rates for a principal operator-usually defined as the person who drives the car more than 50% of the time:

For the car, we chose a current year Chevrolet Impala LS.

We selected several geographical areas of the state along with a city in each area. Select the city closest to you. If you live in the Kansas City area, you select one of these zip codes: 66106 (Wyandotte County), 66204, 66221 (Johnson County).

While these examples may not fit your situation exactly, they can provide a useful way to compare the range of premiums offered.

Rates show the cost for a six-month period. The rates are not likely to be the exact amounts that you will be quoted. Your actual rates will depend on factors such as your driving record, the type of vehicle you drive and the number of persons and vehicles on your policy.

The Guide does not include all companies, but shows the top companies based on market share. These companies write over 80% of the coverage sold in Kansas

The Guide is not meant to be an endorsement of any company.

Rates are current as of the date shown and are subject to change. Contact the company or agent for a specific quote.

Shopping for Personal Automobile Insurance

Use the worksheet linked above to gather information you'll need before you begin to shop. Be reminded that the cheapest deal isn't always the best deal. Good insurance value means finding the right price, best coverage, and quality service. Answer the questions truthfully and correctly. Ask what discounts will save you money. Make sure the premium charge quotes you get are for the same term and coverage. For example, not all companies will offer the same options and deductibles. Decide what you need before shopping.

Tips For Lowering Your Premium

For parents of teen-aged drivers: If your teenagers don’t own cars, name them on your policy as occasional operators of your least expensive cars. They may be named as an occasional driver if they don’t drive to and from school or work. If they do own cars, cover them under your policy. This would also qualify you for a multi-car discount. It is important that you report actual driving habits to the company. It’s not uncommon to have juveniles automatically assigned to your most expensive car.

Check into discounts for a driver’s education course or good academic record. If the young driver goes to school more than 100 miles away—without a car—another discount may apply.

Young singles on their own: Avoid high performance or “turbo cars.” A turbo engine can add more than 10 percent to your premium.

Older people: Take a defensive-driving course that’s approved by the State Board of Education or National Safety Council. You may earn a 5 to 15 percent discount off your premium. Call our Consumer Assistance Toll-free Hot Line (1-800-432-2484) or refer to our website for more information.

Ask About Discounts

Ask your agent or company if you are eligible for any discounts. Here are some discounts you should ask about: