Full coverage car insurance is more expensive than bare-bones coverage. That extra money will likely be worth it if you get into an accident.
Bare-bones coverage means going with the state’s minimum liability and property damage coverage -- nothing else. That means no comprehensive or collision coverage, which are optional types of car insurance that cover damage to your car from accidents you cause and from severe weather.
Having the most limited coverage is the cheapest way to drive. On the other hand, full coverage means liability with a $100,000 limit to cover bodily injury you cause to others in an accident, up to $300,000 per accident, with $100,000 to pay for damage you cause to another car or property, plus comprehensive and collision insurance, with a $500 deductible.
Full coverage car insurance costs about $1,355 on average. That’s $800 more on average than minimum coverage, which is $526.
Why pay the extra money?
"We live in a very litigious society," warned Loretta Worters, VP of media relations for Insurance Information Institute (III). "Therefore, it is imperative to have enough coverage to protect your assets. Liability insurance is mandatory, so if they forgo liability, they can be subject to fines or worse. But minimum liability limits are woefully inadequate and you risk losing everything without the proper coverage."
Many drivers don’t have any coverage. The Insurance Research Council estimates that 13% of drivers don’t even have car insurance. The percentage has risen since it hit a record low of 12.3% in 2010. Florida has the highest rate of uninsured motorists -- 26.7%. Maine has the lowest at 4.5%.
Beyond not having coverage, dropping car insurance will lead to higher rates. If you let your coverage lapse, your insurance rates will be higher when you get coverage again. Except for New Hampshire, every state in the U.S. has a minimum mandatory car insurance requirement.
A lapse in coverage up to 30 days increases your insurance rates by about 9% or $130, on average, according to CarInsurance.com's data analysis. For a lapse of 60 days, it's 14% or $190.
Why is it important to have auto insurance with uninsured drivers on the road?
“What could happen is the other driver could file a lawsuit against you, which could mean garnishing your wages or worse, so it's important to make sure you have the right amount of insurance and also that you have uninsured and underinsured insurance for you in case someone doesn't have enough or no insurance,” Worters said.
Full coverage auto insurance offers more protection, so it's more expensive than state minimum coverage. But the difference between full coverage and state minimum liability coverage is nothing compared to other everyday items. While we recommend full coverage, you should at least have what is required to drive legally in your state.
Here are 10 things that cost more than full coverage car insurance:
1. A year's supply of coffee and lunch
Many of us swing through a Starbucks or Dunkin’ in the morning and drop some bucks on our morning fix. At lunch, we head to a sandwich shop around the corner from work and pick up a salad or turkey roll-up. It adds up.
A recent survey from Accounting Principals featured on Wolters Kluwer found that 50% of Americans spend around $1,000 on coffee annually. Also, 66% of working Americans buy their lunch, racking up to nearly $2,000 a year.
That's $3,000, roughly, just on coffee and lunch.
2. A new iPhone and your cell plan for a year
Yeah, having a cell phone qualifies as a "necessity" these days, but do you necessarily need the latest model. And what about that expensive service plan?
That's up to you, but let us remind you: the new iPhone 11 Pro models start at $999 and $1,099. Your monthly wireless service usually runs between $50-$60 a month.
Whether it’s wine for dinner at home or martinis and margaritas at the bar, alcohol can run up a tab. It could quickly cost more than full coverage car insurance over a year.
Let's say you and your partner each have two cocktails each per week at an average cost of $8 each. That's $32 a week. Multiply that by 52 weeks and you're at $1,664 for the year.
And that doesn’t even get into the occasional beer or a glass of wine.
4. Cable TV
Millions are cutting the cable cord and getting their TV fix with subscriptions to services, such as Hulu or Netflix. You can also pick up an antenna for all the local stations.
A high-end package that includes channels, such as HBO or Showtime, can run you $100 per month easily. And yes, it's still illegal to steal your neighbor's cable connection.
That’s $1,200 per year at a minimum.
5. Sports and concerts
Are you ready for some football!? Attending a National Football League game is one of America’s favorite activities. It comes at a substantial cost.
Onlinegambling.com's got a fun, user-friendly calculator on which you can pick your favorite team and figure out what it would cost you to go to a game in real life. For our experiment, we chose a family of four heading to see a New England Patriots game. Clicking "standard seats" for four, tickets alone came to $2,196. Add in parking for an average of $40 and concessions (we chose four hot dogs, two beers and two sodas), and you'll tack on a few hundred more to the night out at the game.
That’s a lot of dough for three hours of NFL action.
The same goes for concerts. For instance, if you want to see the Piano Man on stage, you'll have to shell out some Uptown Girl bucks.
Searching for even the "cheapest seats" for Billy Joel on Ticketmaster, the best you're going to do is $149.50 for a seat. So, for a family of four, that's easily $600 before service fees, parking, a couple of jumbo dogs and drafts. You’ll likely pay more than $800 before the night ends.
Clicking the "best seats" option, you can park your fanny in an "official platinum seat" for between $346 to $556 per ticket. And there's no guarantee some tall guy won't be in front of you, or a loud, singing woman won't be bopping around next to you.
It's not just for Billy Joel, mind you. Most "big name" acts pull in a pretty penny now.
We spend more on entertainment than for clothing or personal care products combined (and perhaps more than on our auto insurance).
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2018 Consumer Expenditure Survey, the average annual household spending on entertainment was $3,228, up .7% from 2017. That means Americans are spending way more than what it costs for an auto insurance policy on cable TV, movies, sporting events and concerts.
Considering that one movie ticket to see the latest film can cost $14.25, this figure isn't that surprising.
7. Driving and cars
There's a wide swath of spending in this area, but for the most part, you're likely spending too much on your vehicles and transportation costs. You're definitely spending more than what it would cost to insure that car.
Gas, maintenance, repairs and commuting costs cost an American household $9,761 on average annually, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2018 Consumer Expenditure Survey.
8. Your sweet, beloved pet
Having a dog can run you nearly $2,000 per year, depending on the size and age of your pup and the products you buy, according to Petfinder. Food runs between $120-$550, treats up to $300 and healthcare up to $250 per year.
Cats cost a bit less but depending on your level of pampering, easily a significant monthly expense.
Make no mistake, though, your dog (or cat) is part of the family. We're not suggesting you not have your pet; but perhaps cut down on the squeaky toys and instead insure your car.
9. Going out to dinner
Whether it's pizza on Fridays, that Chinese place you love around the corner or the pricey Italian restaurant you hit for "special occasions," we Americans love to go out to eat.
In the Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2018 Consumer Expenditure Survey, it showed that American households spent an average of $7,923 on food.
That's $4,464 a year on the food in your fridge and cupboards at home. But we spend nearly as much on "food away from home," with a total for the year at $3,459.
10. Your all-inclusive trip to Aruba
Vacations. We love to travel, and we deserve it, darn it. You work hard, and you want to kick your feet into the powdery sand, explore the mountains or bring the kids on Space Mountain. It'll cost ya.
The average American is spending $2,037 on a vacation in 2019, up from $1,936 in 2018, according to Allianz Partners Vacation Confidence Index.
All of the 10 common items we mention can help create fun, fulfilling lives. You deserve to splurge on yourself. However, make sure you’re investing enough money on your car insurance. Don’t skimp on full coverage if you need it.