Navigate the car insurance marketplace like a pro

Some level of car insurance is required for almost every driver, but being fully covered when life happens can be a different story.

Personal injury protection, or PIP, is Florida's minimum required coverage. But there are a handful of additional types of coverage most drivers should consider no matter what they drive, how much they're on the road, or how tight their budget.

If you're in an accident, more than vehicles can be damaged. There are your passengers, another vehicle's driver and passengers, and surrounding property.

There are also non-accident-related incidents that can damage a vehicle - like falling trees, hail, and flooding.

In the case of an accident, property liability covers damage to the other car. Collision protection means your car is covered. Considering basic PIP coverage, we now have three pieces of the car insurance puzzle placed together.

Then there's bodily injury coverage, which pays if you hurt someone else.

Consumer protection attorney Alan Borden says if you don't have coverage for bodily injuries, you may be vulnerable to lawsuits and putting your assets and wages at risk.

Another layer of protection pays if an uninsured or under-insured driver hits you.

Finally, comprehensive coverage protects your car from theft, fire, falling objects, or other unexpected problems.

"That’s the only insurance that covers you so if somebody hits you a hit and run or they don't have insurance which a lot of people in Florida don't have insurance," Borden advises.

That makes six elements to make your driving life fully covered.

If you're feeling like full coverage is going to break your bank, make sure to shop around before signing up for a plan.

Online tools can help you compare providers. Nerd Wallet Personal Finance discovered comparison shopping can save you hundreds.

"I was so shocked by our research that 38 percent of Americans have not bothered to do this, shopping around in at least three years so that's a lot of people missing out on savings," explained Kimberly Palmer of Nerd Wallet.

She says you could save as much as $400 a year. 

Palmer suggests seeking discounts for your driving record, lifestyle, or using the same insurer for multiple policies.

“If you bundle, if you have more than one car with a company, you can save, or if you combine it with your homeowners or renters. Look beyond big name carriers. Sometimes regional and local carriers offer more competitive rates," she said.