Any confusion over what to buy or how to use a product can end up being costly, but when it comes to insurance, misunderstandings can end up costing thousands of dollars. We set out to find the worst sources of confusion, based on 10 common insurance myths. Insure.com asked 2,000 adults whether 10 statements were true or false. All the statements were false. We also looked at who believes each myth more - women or men.
In all cases except one, men were more likely to be duped by an insurance myth. Coming in as the top myth: Over half of people surveyed (52 percent) don't know how to buy insurance for a house. Coming in second is the long-held belief that red cars cost more to insure (46 percent believe this to be the case). This was the only case where women believed the myth more than men. Here's how the insurance myths rank, along with the correct information.
Myth 1: I should buy insurance coverage for my house based on its real estate market value.
- 52% think it's true (among those who said it's true, 45% were women, 55% were men).
- Tip: Buy coverage based on the costs to reconstruct the home. Imagine your home being leveled by fire or a tornado - this is a worst-case scenario that you want to insure for. In many areas of the country, rebuilding costs are quite different from real estate market value. In areas with a weak housing market, it might cost more to rebuild your house than what you could sell it for. And don't include the value of the land in your coverage amount. An insurance agent can help calculate rebuilding costs. These home insurance basics can help you understand your policy.
Myth 2: Red cars cost more to insure because they get pulled over for speeding more.
- 46% think it's true (52% women, 48% men).
- Tip: Car color doesn't affect insurance rates and insurance companies don't use it in their calculation of rates. Want to know what really costs the most? Check out Insure.com's rankings of the most expensive vehicles to insure.
Myth 3: If I cause a crash with extensive damage to others, my auto insurance company can cancel me immediately.
- 44% think it's true (50% women, 50% men).
- Tip: Most states have laws that prohibit insurers from canceling you mid-term due to a claim. If the insurer doesn't want your business, they generally have to wait until your policy period is up and then they can send you a notice of nonrenewal. However, you can be canceled at any time for not paying your premiums.
Myth 4: Small cars are the cheapest to insure.
- 40% think it's true (42% women, 58% men).
- Tip: Small and mid-size SUVs and minivans are the cheapest to insure. In the 2014 model year, the Jeep Wrangler Sport is the least expensive vehicle to insure, according to Insure.com's study of rates. Small cars do not have the cheapest rates because they are often chosen by younger, inexperienced drivers who submit more claims. Also, injury claims are higher from small cars, which lack the weight and protection offered by larger vehicles.
Myth 5: The Affordable Care Act (also called Obamacare) allows health insurance companies to base rates on medical conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer.
- 36% think it's true (42% women, 58% men).
- Tip: The Affordable Care Act prohibits health insurance companies from basing rates on pre-existing conditions. Nor can health insurers charge different amounts for men and women.
Myth 6: Comprehensive auto insurance covers everything and anything.
- 32% think it's true (41% women, 59% men).
- Tip: If we could go back in time, we should never name it “comprehensive coverage.” Even “non-accident specific-problem coverage” would be less confusing to car insurance buyers. Comprehensive coverage pays for certain problems such as car theft, storm damage, animal collisions and vandalism.
Myth 7: Thieves prefer to steal new cars.
- 29% think it's true (42% women, 58% men).
- Tip: Older cars are more valued among thieves because the market for their parts is bigger. If you want to cover car theft, buy comprehensive coverage.
Myth 8: If my friend borrows my car and crashes it, their insurance will pay for damage.
- 25% think it's true (48% women, 52% men).
- Tip: Handing your car keys to a friend or relative is like handing them your insurance future. If they cause damage, the claim goes on your auto insurance policy and can affect your rates for years to come. And they probably won't offer to chip in.
Myth 9: The Affordable Care Act (also called Obamacare) requires me to take the health insurance plan offered by my employer.
- 19% think it's true (41% women, 59% men).
- Tip: The Affordable Care Act requires almost all Americans to buy a health plan but doesn't say where you must get it. If you don't have access to health insurance through work or a spouse's employer, mark your calendar for the open enrollment period for 2015 individual health insurance, which starts on Nov. 15, 2014.
Myth 10: Out-of-state speeding tickets can't follow you home.
- 13% think it's true (34% women, 66% men).
- Tip: Those tickets can follow you, and can affect your car insurance rates. This myth had the biggest disparity between men and women among the survey questions, with far more men believing they could get away with speeding in another state.