Auto Insurance Basics

Auto insurance  can cover your own car, your own person, and third parties and vehicles. The basic types of car insurance coverage are liability, comprehensive & collision.

Liability insurance covers you (the insured) for any bodily injuries or property damage that you are responsible for.  It is usually sold as a “split limit” policy, which splits the coverage for bodily injury and property damage.  The Tennessee state minimums are $25,000/$50,000/$15,000 - this means that an individual in the other vehicle will have their medical bills covered for up to $25,000, all occupants in the other car have a total medical bill coverage of up to $50,000, and any property damage you have caused (most usually this is the damage to another vehicle) is covered up to $15,000.

Collision coverage is optional coverage which covers damage to your own vehicle if it is damaged in an accident.  Collision coverage will provide the payments to repair your car, unless it isn’t repairable, in which case the insurance company will pay you the cash value of your car.  The payment from your insurance carrier will be subject to the deductible amount on your policy - you are responsible for paying the deductible amount.

Comprehensive coverage is also subject to your deductible amount, and will pay for damage to your vehicle that is caused by incidents that are not collisions. Comprehensive is misunderstood by some folks, they don’t understand that it covers all sorts of losses, like glass breakage, incidents like hail damage, collisions with deer or any other animal, vandalism and malicious mischief, fire, theft - all these types of loss are covered by your comprehensive.

The Lowest Premium Can Cost You?

The biggest mistake vehicle insurance shoppers make is to look only for the absolute lowest premium, without paying much attention to the details of the coverage they’re getting.

Now I’m all for saving money, believe me.  I’m not trying to simply charge you higher rates! I just believe that anyone buying car insurance ought to go into the deal with the insurance carrier with their eyes wide open. Because, trust me, once you get into a claim situation with your vehicle, that big old insurance company isn’t going to do a single, solitary thing that they don’t have to…

So let’s talk about some of the main ways the big insurance companies use to quote low rates.

High Deductible

Lots of carriers will automatically go ahead and quote you a rate based on a $500 deductible.  But a lot of folks these days would have a hard time coming up with $500 all of a sudden…  Read more

Uninsured Motorists

Uninsured / underinsured coverage is the most misunderstood parts of an auto insurance policy.

Uninsured driver coverage is often omitted from rate quotes in order to keep the rate quote nice and low…  Read more

State Minimum Insurance Levels

I hardly ever write auto policies with only the state required minimum coverage…  Read more


Coverage for the cost of a rental car while yours is in the shop is a good idea for lots of folks, since it doesn’t add much to your premium.  But be careful to look into the fine print of the coverage. Many carriers offer a mere $20/day in rental payment.  Good luck renting a car for $20 a day.  Make sure this coverage has at least a $30/day payment with it.

Medical Payments

This is an outstanding type of coverage.  Take an example of teenage drivers, they’re always having their friends in the car with them…  Read more

Accidental Death

This is a type of coverage that is pushed by some carriers that’s not a good deal for you…  Read more

Roadside Assistance

This is a pretty unique feature, offered by more and more carriers now.  It will pay for a wide range of disablements of your vehicle, …  Read more

Settlement of Claims

So many consumers think that the price of insurance is the real deal. But they need to look at what they’re getting for their money…  Read more

Gordon Lampley is the owner of Sunbelt Insurance, Inc., in Dickson, Tennessee.

Gordon is an independent agent with 37 years of experience, representing 20 insurance carriers and offering all lines of property & casualty, life, and health insurance.

He can be reached by email or by phone at 615-446-9292.