What Are Your Rights When Dealing With a Car Insurance Company? o Auto insurance of some form is mandatory in all 50 states in the U.S. While the liability amount requirements vary, all states require that drivers maintain liability insurance for their vehicles. And if you took out a loan to buy a car then you are also required (by the bank, not law) to maintain collision insurance to protect the vehicle through the term of the loan. While the laws tend to be written to protect insurance companies in most disputes, consumers do have specific rights with regard to insurance companies and auto insurance policies. The Right to Change Your Policy o You have the right to change your policy at any time as you see fit. You may add or delete specific coverages (like collision or uninsured motorist) at any time. Some insurance companies will allow you to add coverages at any time, but you can only make deletions to policies effective at the end of a billing period (in other words, they do not give "refunds" in most circumstances). Auto Insurance Must Travel With You o Auto insurance travels with the policy holder. That is, a policy issued in one state is legally valid in all other states. However, you should keep in mind that some states have higher minimum liability coverage amounts than others, so if you just have the minimum liability coverage in a state with low minimum limits, you will not be in compliance with the minimum liability limits in some states. Consider adding a temporary rider to your policy for the trip if this is the case. The Right to Buy Back a Totaled Vehicle o Auto insurance policy holders also have the right to buy back their vehicle that has been written off as "totaled" by the insurance company. Simply notify the insurance company in writing of your intention to do so, and when the payment check arrives just sign it back to them and collect the totaled vehicle. The Right to Choose another Insurance Company o While this right is not a specific law, it is the basic premise of the American capitalist system. Capitalism means businesses competing, and competition means choices for consumers, and even though auto insurance is mandatory, you do have the right to change your insurance provider at any time. It pays to shop around, as some policies can be significantly cheaper than others even though the coverage is very similar. The Right to Have Repairs Done at the Repair Shop of Your Choice o Consumers have the right to have auto repairs done at the repair shop of their choice and do not have to use the body or repair shop suggested by the insurance company. However, the repairs can cost no more than a reasonable industry estimate (specific laws vary by state) no matter where the repairs are done.
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