Auto Insurance Terms
A Layman’s Guide
Auto insurance score: Like a credit score, this score is based on information found in a consumer’s credit file. Insurance companies consider auto insurance scores when pricing policies. Having black marks on your credit report could really bump up your auto insurance costs.
Binder: A temporary insurance contract that provides proof of coverage until a permanent policy can be issued.
Bodily injury liability: The part of an auto insurance policy that pays for injuries you may cause another driver or pedestrian. It includes medical expenses and loss of wages.
Collision: The part of an auto insurance policy that pays to get your car repaired after a collision with another vehicle or an object, such as a fire hydrant or utility pole. It is collision insurance that will get your insurance company to seek out another driver’s insurance company to pay for repairs if they were at fault. A deductible amount will apply.
Comprehensive: This part of an auto insurance policy covers damages to your car caused by something other than a crash: a vandal breaks in, a tree falls on it or floodwaters engulf it. A deductible amount will apply.
Declarations page: The front page of an auto insurance policy listing the name of your insurance company, your policy number, your coverage, the cost of the coverage and your deductibles. This page also lists the vehicles insured on the policy as well as vehicle identification numbers (VIN).
Factors that affect your auto insurance include:
The type of car you drive
Where you live: an urban or rural area
Deductible amount: The amount of money a policyholder must pay before an insurance company steps in and pays the rest. Deductible amounts range from $100 to $1,000. The higher your deductible, the lower your insurance premium or cost. A higher deductible also means you’ll have to pay more money out of your own pocket if an accident, theft or another covered incident should occur.
Discount: A reduction in the cost of your auto insurance premium. Insurance companies offer discounts for everything from a teenage driver’s good grades to a car’s safety equipment, including airbags, anti-lock brake system and a security alarm.
Emergency road service: This part of an auto insurance policy pays for the cost of having your car towed after it breaks down.
Exclusion: A provision in an insurance policy that denies coverage for certain losses, locations, people and properties.
Gap insurance: A type of insurance offered to auto lease and loan customers that owe more on a car than it’s worth. Gap insurance pays the difference between what you owe and the actual cash value of a vehicle in the event the car is stolen or destroyed.
High-risk driver: If you have accidents or tickets on your driving record, many insurance companies will classify you as a high-risk driver and charge you more for insurance.
Liability insurance: This part of an auto insurance policy covers the injuries and damage you cause to other drivers and their vehicles when you are at fault in an accident. If you are taken to court, liability coverage will apply to your legal costs. Most states require drivers to carry liability coverage. The amount of coverage varies by state.
Limits: The maximum amount of benefits your insurer will pay for a loss as designated in your insurance policy.
Medical payments coverage: This part of an auto insurance policy pays for medical expenses and lost wages to you and any passengers in your vehicle after an accident. It is also known as personal injury protection (PIP).
No-fault insurance: If you live in a state with no-fault insurance regulations, your auto insurance policy pays for your injuries no matter who caused an accident. No-fault insurance states include Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Utah and Washington, DC..
Personal property liability: The part of an auto insurance policy that pays for damages you may cause to another’s car or property.
Personal injury protection (PIP): This part of an auto insurance policy pays for medical expenses and lost wages to you and any passengers in your vehicle after an accident. PIP is also known as medical payments coverage.
Premium: The amount charged for an insurance policy. A premium is based on the type and amount of coverage you choose. Other factors affecting your insurance premium include your age, marital status, your driving and credit records, the type of car you drive and whether you live in an urban or rural area. Premiums vary by insurance company.
Rental reimbursement: This part of a policy pays for the cost of a similar-sized rental car when your car is in a repair shop for covered damage.
Surcharge: A charge added to your auto policy premium after a traffic violation or an accident in which you were at fault.
Underinsured driver: This part of an auto insurance policy covers injuries to you caused by a driver without enough insurance to pay for your medical expenses. Some states include damages to your car in this coverage.
Uninsured driver or motorist: This part of an auto insurance policy covers injuries to you caused by a driver without insurance. Most states require drivers to carry uninsured motorist coverage. Some states include damages to your car in this coverage.
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