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Top 10 auto insurance myths

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Full coverage can mean many different things. Often, drivers filing a claim are surprised to find that their full coverage does not include emergency roadside service or rental reimbursement. These optional types of coverage must be purchased separately. Read your policy so you understand what is and is not covered. ​

Not necessarily. Regardless of the visible damage, your insurance company will determine if it is practical to have the car repaired. If the cost to repair your car exceeds its value, it will likely be totaled. To learn about your rights if your car is declared a total loss. Go to the Division of Financial Regulation website.

That is not true. Typically, you have 14 days to tell your insurance company about a newly acquired vehicle. This drops to four days if you do not already have physical damage coverage on another insured car. Because policies vary, ask your agent or customer service representative exactly when you must notify your insurance company to make sure your new car is covered. ​​

This can be an expensive misunderstanding. Auto insurance policies generally do not cover personal property stolen from your vehicle or damaged in an accident. (Homeowner or renter policies do, but you will probably have to pay a deductible first and there can be limits on certain types of items.) Bottom line: Do not leave valuables in your car. ​​

Not always, and not indefinitely. Personal injury protection (PIP) insurance covers only “reasonable and necessary” medical expenses incurred within two years — up to $15,000 or your PIP limit. And your medical insurance will usually not cover medical expenses resulting from a car accident until your PIP coverage is exhausted. Read more about PIP coverage on the Division of Financial Regulation website. ​​

Sorry, but the “grace period” for not paying your car insurance premium is short. If you are late on a payment, the insurance company can cancel your policy with just 10 days’ notice, as long as the cancellation warning is printed on your bill. Insurers can choose to give you more time to pay your premium, but they are not required to. ​​

In Oregon, an insurance company cannot legally force you to use a particular repair shop as a condition for payment. Many insurers have relationships with networks of “preferred” repair shops, but you get to ultimately decide where to take your car. ​​

Insurance companies must work with the repair shops within their networks to make sure damaged vehicles are returned to pre-loss condition. However, they are not responsible for repairs done outside their network, so carefully choose your repair shop. Get referrals from people you trust and check for complaints with the Better Business Bureau and the Department of Justice. Also, make sure you are satisfied with the finished work before the insurance company pays the repair shop. ​​

Actually, it doesn’t. Insurance companies can opt for aftermarket or recycled parts instead, as a way to help keep your premium costs down. For your protection, Oregon law requires that aftermarket parts be certified equivalent to factory parts by an independent testing facility. ​​

When you make a claim against another driver, the insurance company investigates to determine the legal obligation of the person it insures. If the company cannot find the person — and cannot accurately determine what happened — it is possible there would be no coverage. Of course, insurance companies must make every effort to contact their policyholders.

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