Auto Insurance: The Basics – With Andrew Darlington

Today we are going to talk about auto insurance in Tennessee and Virginia. There are a couple of basic coverages you need to know. There are first party coverages and third party coverages.

First and Third Party Coverages

First-party coverages fix your car in the event you did something wrong, or nature happens to your vehicle. If you hit something, a tree falls on your car, lightning hits it, or even a flood—all these perils are covered under first-party coverage, including comprehensive coverage. These examples are all comprehensive and collision claims. Together, although they are not all-inclusive, they will cover most things that might happen to your vehicle.

Third-party coverages are a liability. If you hit someone and get sued or you are responsible for the damage, those are covered under third-party coverages. That includes Bodily Injury (BI) and Property Damage (PD). Bodily Injury will pay for the person’s medical bills, lost wages, death benefits, nursing home coverage, and even for pain and suffering caused by an auto accident. You will have coverage for Bodily Injury up to your liability limit. Property Damage covers what you damage—this would include if you run into a house, restaurant, another car, or a tractor-trailer. Most people don’t have nearly enough coverage. Think about it—if you are driving down the road and hit a tractor-trailer, a lot of them are worth $120,000 to $150,000 now. Many times we see people in our office with only $100,000 of Property Damage coverage, and that is simply not enough right now as prices have increased in the last 15-20 years. Make sure your limits are adequate for both first and third-party coverages when purchasing an auto insurance policy.

Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage

There is one other coverage that is sort of in the middle: uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. When we talk about these coverages, we are mainly talking about the states of Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Other states have different coverages, but we are talking about here in the Tri-Cities region. Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage covers when someone else hits you and they would be responsible for paying your lost wages, medical payments, medical bills, death benefit, and even for fixing your car, but they don’t have any or enough coverage. Your uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage will pay what their liability coverage would have paid had they had it.

The Coverage You Need

Those are the coverages that you need to be aware of when you are buying auto insurance. If you are not worried about your car being fixed if you do something wrong to it, then you don’t need comprehensive collision coverage. We would usually still recommend uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage because it is so inexpensive, and there are so many people out there without auto insurance. You would want coverage if you get hit by an uninsured driver, including emergency roadside assistance. Someone called our office and was hit by an uninsured driver, and he thought because he didn’t have comprehensive or collision coverage, he would have to replace his car. But he had uninsured motorist coverage, so we were able to pay to fix his car. Be sure you have enough to cover your car. Sometimes uninsured property damage is a little oversold—if your car is worth $10,000, you don’t need $100,00 of coverage. So in some situations, you can tweak your policy limits a bit, but most of the time it is so inexpensive that won’t be necessary.

What Factors Affect the Cost of Auto Insurance?

Several factors affect auto insurance costs, including age, driving history, location, type of vehicle, coverage level, and deductible. Additionally, insurance companies consider credit score, marital status, and annual mileage when calculating premiums. Comparing quotes can help find the best rates.

Those are the basics of auto insurance. If you have any questions, please contact our office at (423) 292-4142, or send an email to We would be happy to give you more information and help you with any of your questions.

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