Buying a Car
How Much to Spend: If possible, you should spend no more than 10% of your gross income on transportation costs (including gas, insurance, etc.).
New vs. Used: Autos typically lose about 45% of their value during the first three years. Buying new allows you to pick the exact car that you want and be the first to drive it. Buying used will save you a lot of money. Buying a less expensive car can also save you on auto insurance.
Shop Around: You can change companies/policy at any time. Each company values you differently, and your credit rating plays a big factor. Within NC, you pay an average of $320 more per year for having poor credit with the same driving record (Consumer Reports: 2015). They recommend doing a very thorough rate comparison every 2-3 years (top suggestions include USAA, Amica, NJM).
Liability Coverage: When you are at fault, this covers injury to people other than yourself and damage to someone else's property (car, structure, road signs). You are required to have a minimum amount of liability insurance, but that may not be enough. NC requires a minimum of 30/60/25: $30,000 for bodily injury per person $60,000 for bodily injury in total, and $25,000 for property damage. Keep in mind that these numbers are the total amount you will receive and you could be required to pay the remaining balance. Consumer Reports recommends 100/300/100.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Liability: When you are not at fault, but the other driver has too little or no insurance, this covers your medical expenses and lost wages. (For some companies, this also covers your property.)
Comprehensive and Collision: Regardless of who is at fault, Collision covers your car during a driving accident and Comprehensive covers non-collision damage. For each, you select a deductible amount that you will pay out of pocket for each claim and your insurance company pays for the remaining damage. The higher the deductible, the lower your monthly payments will be. If you drive an older car and your annual cost exceeds 10% of the vehicle's value, this coverage may not be worth the expense.
Medical Payments Coverage: Regardless of who is at fault, this covers medical related expenses for you and your passengers. Although you probably have health insurance, there can still be significant out of pocket expenses as well as items that health insurance may not cover (chiropractic, dental, prosthetics, funeral, etc.).
Filing a Claim: You are not required to use the insurance company's suggested auto repair shop. Make sure they are using OEM parts. You can also negotiate with the insurance company - their job is to pay as little as possible, so you have to look out for your own interests.