It’s your party and you’ll cry if you want to

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Especially if you don’t opt in for first party

By Paul Hurst

As I mentioned in a previous article, I’ll be explaining the two main components of your car insurance policy. You already know a bit about third party from the previous column: extended third party, anything above $200,000, is optional, but not first party.

You can buy your $5 million from ICBC or other insurers, but it really only comes into play in very serious injury claims.

With first party coverage, it’s all optional: you can buy all, some, or none of it. You can also buy it from other insurance companies, but the private insurers can pick and choose who they sell it to, based on the customer’s claims history. ICBC can limit or even refuse to sell first party to the worst drivers. I suggest you shop around.

Collision and Comprehensive coverage are the first two major subsets of first party.

Collision is for damage you do to your own car. If you’re in an accident that’s your fault, this coverage pays to repair or replace your car.

Comprehensive is everything else. If some space junk from the International Space Station happens to smash into your car, Comprehensive is the financial deflector shield. The adjuster will code it as a “missile.” Fire damage, theft of or from your car, a horse chewing on the paint job (I had one or two such claims) or a child chewing a seatbelt are examples of “Comp” claims. As are regurgitated alcohol stains, which I suppose you know about.

When you pay your deductible, it’s for first party coverage. The deductible has been around for several hundred years. It’s a sign of good faith on your part that your claim is legitimate when you pay it. You are sharing the risk. It’s also supposed to reduce fraudulent claims, and claim costs.

Specified Perils coverage includes some of the situations included in Comprehensive, but as per it’s name, only specific ones. Comp is much more commonly purchased.

RoadStar and RoadSide plus are basically for long distance trips. If you head to the states, Vancouver Island or up north regularly, either are good to have. RoadSar is a bit confusing. You are called a “RoadStar” if you have a good claim history and the 43 per cent discount. You are then entitled to purchase the RoadStar Travel Protection package.

It includes rental car insurance if you vacation in, say Hawaii. It will also help with costs incurred in an accident further afield. If you are not a RoadStar driver, you can buy RoadSide Plus instead, which is also very good coverage.

When I adjusted claims that happened out of province, it was always easier for the customer if they had been wise enough to buy either travel plan prior to leaving BC.

Loss of use is the third major subset of first party. RoadStar and RoadSide Plus have it as part of their packages. If you only want stand-alone loss of use, it’s nice to have if you’re at fault and need a rental car to replace yours while it’s being repaired.