If you drive or ride a motor vehicle on the road you must have general auto insurance. It is a legal requirement in most states and can save you from a lot of financial pain if, and when, something goes wrong.

Exactly what kind of something is covered will be listed in the policy. This is a written agreement which describes what events are covered and details the level of payout available. What events are covered varies from one policy to another and can include such things as: theft, accidental damage caused by someone else, accidental damage caused by you, injury and death caused by you, and lawsuits that happen as a result of an event. The level of payout available also varies from policy to policy and event to event. Exactly what events you need to be protected from and the level of protection is up to you and will be affected primarily by the value of the vehicle and what you can afford. There's no point paying extra to cover damage to your old car if the extra costs more than the car is worth.

Buying a vehicle is generally a big investment. You spend time looking around to find just what want at a good price - do the same with your general auto insurance.

Policies have to comply with the minimum laws of the state you live in. Exactly how they comply and the amount of payout available as well as what else is included over and above the bare minimum is up to the individual policy.

Do your homework; get general auto insurance quotes from brokers or the insurance companies. Read the policies. Makes lists of the events that are covered, the payouts available and put it into a table so you can see all the policies and compare them.

If you do it yourself, direct general auto insurance can save you a lot of money. However, it does mean doing all the running around. A broker may have access to policies that you don't because some companies don't sell directly to you, the end customer. However, the broker does need to get paid by someone, either by you or by the insurance company so be careful of any vested interest they may have - ask them to disclose any retainers, commissions or payments of any kind.

Remember this is an agreement to protect you, not just a nuisance. You'll only appreciate how valuable it is when you really need. Like all contracts, if you don't agree with what's written in the policy then find another one which suits you better. Once you sign (or pay the premium) you have agreed to everything that's written in the policy - whether you like what's there or not you have agreed to it.

If you want cheap auto insurance then mark on your list the things you don't want and specify this to the insurance company or broker, they may have another product that suits you better. Don't pay for something you don't need. Also look at varying the standard policy by increasing the deductibles - this is the amount you have to pay yourself for any claim. Insurance companies like this because it means they don't get many small claims so they will give you a discount. If you have an older car dropping the collision and comprehensive components will likely save you money. Think about this: when was the last time you had a costly accident that was your fault? If you are a safe driver with an older car you might save the whole value of your car in two years by not paying for collision and comprehensive insurance. This requires careful thought because it is a risk and only you can know whether or not you are prepared to take this risk.

Invest some time finding out about general auto insurance online or talk to a broker. It's your future, protect yourself financially.