Poll: Most Drivers Don’t Understand What Their Car Insurance Covers

Poll: Most Drivers Don’t Understand What Their Car Insurance Covers

By Dave LaChance

Most drivers are misinformed about what their car insurance covers, with many believing they have insurance that isn’t actually available, a nationwide survey conducted for Forbes Advisor has found.

As a result, “drivers may be surprised at what’s not covered by their insurance when trying to make a claim after a car accident or other vehicle damage,” Forbes Advisor said.

“Car insurance is meant to be a financial safety net if you cause an accident, are injured or accidentally damage your own vehicle,” the publication states. “But our investigation revealed that this safety net has a lot of big holes due to lack of basic car insurance knowledge.”

The survey results remind repairers that their customers may not be aware of their policies and may need guidance, especially since most drivers go seven to 10 years between crashes.

The online survey of 2,000 US adults was conducted by market research firm OnePoll, with data collected March 23-24, 2022. It focused on types of coverage and did not dive deep into issues specific to the claims process.

The survey found that at least 40% of drivers believe they have coverage that does not exist in a car insurance policy:

  • 47% of drivers believe that “additional living expenses” coverage is part of their car insurance policy. This coverage is actually part of the homeowners and renters insurance.
  • 49% of drivers think their auto insurance includes “extended collision protection,” which isn’t really a type of coverage.
  • 41% say they have “vehicle emissions” insurance in their car insurance policy. There is no coverage for vehicle emissions.

Drivers aged 18-25 were the most likely to believe they had coverage that was not available:

  • 74% think they have accidental death and dismemberment coverage in their car insurance policy.
  • 69% say their auto insurance covers “additional living expenses.”
  • 68% believe they have “extended crash protection”, which does not exist.
  • 65% think their car insurance covers “vehicle emissions”.

Beyond that, many drivers don’t understand the coverage they have. “We asked drivers to identify the types of auto insurance that would cover common issues. Overall, most respondents were unable to identify the correct coverage,” Forbes Advisor said. Among the discoveries:

  • 57% did not know that collision insurance would cover damage to the vehicle if they accidentally backed into a pole.
  • 59% didn’t know full coverage would pay if a tree branch damaged their car roof.
  • 62% didn’t know liability insurance would pay for damage to another driver’s car in an accident they caused.

According to Forbes Advisor, the biggest knowledge gap was around coverage for uninsured motorists. He noted that only 3% of drivers were aware that none of the standard types of insurance listed would cover injuries sustained by an uninsured motorist who crashed into their vehicle. (Uninsured motorist insurance covers injuries to an insured caused by an uninsured driver.)

The survey breaks down responses by age. In general, drivers between the ages of 18 and 25 were the most likely to give incorrect answers; the percentage of correct answers increased in the older age groups, but then decreased at 77 years and older.

For example, 91% of young drivers think car insurance will pay if their car won’t start, while 62% of drivers aged 58-76 knew that none of the types of coverage listed would cover a vehicle that won’t start. not.

Responses are also broken down by geographic region. For example, 43% of those in the Southwest knew collision coverage would pay for backing into a pole, compared to 34% in the Midwest, 33% in the Southeast, 32% in the Northeast, and 30% in the west.

Repairers looking to provide their customers with a good reference on auto insurance coverage may want to consider the OEM Collision Repair Roundtable’s Crash Repair Info website, which offers consumers some good points to consider about insurance and a number of other collision-related issues.

Some state insurance departments may also offer helpful reference materials. For example, the Missouri Department of Insurance and the Nevada Division of Insurance both offer free, downloadable copies of auto insurance policies and mandatory endorsements offered by a number of auto insurance companies doing business in their States. Both are linked from the Crash Repair Info site.

Some repair associations have taken proactive steps to educate consumers about what is covered by their auto insurance policies. For example, Wisconsin Collision Repair Professionals (WCRP) posted two videos on its YouTube channel, advising consumers on co-payment and offering advice on purchasing a policy.

More information

Why you might owe a co-pay for auto repairs and tips for buying an insurance policy


Feature Image: Most drivers don’t know the terms of their insurance policy, according to a survey conducted for Forbes Advisor. (Mohamad Faizal Bin Ramli/iStock)

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