A Rock For The Ages

The best policy for you could ?well differ according to your ? ageB.E. Personal Finance PART 3 of a SERIES

A 60-year old retiree certainly doesn’t think, dress or live like a recent college graduate. Similarly, your auto insurance needs to change over time. Shaping your policy according to your age gets you the most for your money, and in some cases, can lower your premium.

It’s important to keep in mind that these options may vary somewhat depending on which state you live in. Also keep in mind the optimal policy, no matter what your age, is going to cover you for at least $100,000 in liability coverage for bodily injuries and $300,000 per accident, says Jeanne Salvatore of the Insurance Information Institute in New York. If that sounds like a lot, Salvatore warns that it’s the only way to be certain that your wages will not be garnished in the event of an accident.

20s and 30s. You’ve tucked away your diploma and have begun sweating it out in an entry-level position. Your starting salary is so low, it’s tempting to pick up just enough coverage to pass your state’s minimum requirements. A minimum level of liability coverage in the range of $20,000 per person injured with a maximum coverage of $40,000 per accident may satisfy the authorities, but it won’t cover medical and court costs if you have an accident. “I never recommend the $25,000 minimum liability you need in New York State because today that’s gone in a heartbeat,” says Kevin Crossley, president of Club Agency Inc. in Garden City, New York. “It’s better to aim for $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident.” And, he says, $50,000 worth of property damage coverage is a good figure to shoot for.
On the other hand, if you’re still driving a clunker, dump collision and/or comprehensive coverage. In most cases, it’s not worth it to carry such coverage on cars worth less than $ 1,000.

Say one day you get the job offer you’ve long dreamed of, with the chance to move to another city. It pays to consider your possible premium when negotiating salary. That’s because a move to a larger city might entail a major jump in the money you’ll spend on insurance, a fact that might erase or greatly diminish any raise you happen to get.

40s and 50s. You’re settling down. You’ve moved up the ladder at work, and by buying a home and investing your savings, you’ve amassed a tidy bundle of assets. It’s a time, insurance experts say, to consider boosting your coverage should you be sued in event of an accident. Crossley says it’s also a good time to boost your no-fault disability coverage to $50,000 or so in case you’re injured and can no longer work. Crossley also recommends pushing your liability coverage to $250,000- $500,000. Given your higher salary, you can probably also afford to increase your property damage coverage to $100,000.

By this time, you and your spouse will have a couple of driving teens on your hands, something that’s likely to raise your premiums. Remember, some insurers offer discounts for student drivers with

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