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What the heck?! 6 vexing car insurance questions

Auto insurance companies have their own way of doing things, and those ways may not always match up to what customers expected.

Here six car insurance questions that regularly irritate Insure.com readers.

Why must I list all household members on my policy?

Many people wonder why insurance policies require that all licensed drivers in the house be included on their insurance policy, even if they will not be driving regularly.

This question often arises when the driver in question is a teenager whose inclusion on the policy increases the rates.

"If someone gets into an accident, then the insurance is going to have to pay, so the driver's risk factors need to be calculated into the overall cost of the policy," says Jeanne M. Salvatore, spokesperson for Insurance Information Institute.

vexing car insurance questionsWhy does a car have to be insured if it's never driven?

A car doesn't need to be insured under certain circumstances.

"Most states have mandatory insurance laws only for registered vehicles. If a driver is going to store a car for a very long period and not drive it, most states will allow him/her to remove the license tags [so that the vehicle legally can't be driven] and, as such, the owner will not be required to carry insurance," says Teresa Scharn, auto insurance product director for Nationwide Insurance.

The problem is this: It's possible for a car to be damaged even while sitting in your garage or driveway through vandalism, fire or storms, so be cautious about removing coverage.

Why do married people pay less for car insurance?

According to Kevin Conlee, director in auto line management at Allstate, "If you are married then the data shows that you have a lower propensity for future losses than single drivers with the exact same factors."

Sorry, single folks - the insurance statistics aren't in your favor.

Why do different auto insurance companies charge wildly different amounts for the same coverage?

Car insurance companies use different "underwriting models," which result in different calculations of risk. For example, a person with a DUI conviction might be viewed as less "risky" by one insurer over another. That's why it's important to shop around. The insurer that gives your sister a great price might not be the one that gives you the good deal.

Salvatore says that insurance companies also use price differences to compete in the marketplace.

"One company might seek out only the best drivers and price their policies to encourage top drivers while another might focus on first-time drivers. Companies price their policies to help them compete in the market that they are looking to attract as customers," says Salvatore.

Why do I have to insure all my cars when I can only drive one at a time?

State laws require insurance (or some other proof of financial responsibility) on all cars that are registered.

But you might be able to drop coverage under special circumstances.

"If you have a seasonal car or antique car that you never drive, then you can technically suspend coverage for the car," Conlee says. "But if you are going to drive it, you need to have coverage for at least minimum liability limits."

He also notes that cars can be damaged even if they are not being driven. If you suspend coverage, you will not be able to make a claim due to a tree falling, theft, fire or other calamity.

Why doesn't my car insurance cover me when I drive someone else's car?

Policies are priced based on the specific vehicle and the members of the household who have access to the car. This is how insurers calculate their likelihood for claims payments, and that's why insurance follows the vehicle, not the driver. While other people might occasionally borrow the car, the main risk resides with the family members who are regular drivers.

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