When you are shopping around for an auto insurance policy, you need to understand the major components of your policy so that you can make an apple-to-apple comparison. Below is an image showing a typical policy declaration page. The declaration page contains all the vital information at a glance; however, it is still important for you to read the entire insurance contract to make sure you know the details of your coverage.
Information We Need to Quote
To provide you with an auto insurance quote, we need the following information:
- Name of all licensed drivers in your household
- Driver license number of each driver (not the license plate number)
- VIN number for each vehicle
- Date of birth for each driver
- Property address
- Your current policy declaration page (optional)
Auto Insurance Policy Declaration Page Sample
Policy Declaration Page Explained
#1 – Insurer Information
The insurer’s name usually appears at the top of the declaration page. The key takes away here is to check your insurer’s rating at AM Best. You can also search for “[insurer’s name] reviews” to get an idea of how stable and how well run the company is.
#2 – Insured Information
Your name and address should appear on the policy as the insured.
#3 – Agency Information
Name, address, and contact information of the agency the help you purchase the policy should appear toward the top of the declaration page.
#4 – Insured Drivers
All licensed drivers living at the property should appear here. Their age, sex, how long they have had their license, and driving record will be a factor in the insurance rate.
#5 – Insured Vehicles
All the insurance vehicles and their VIN # should be listed on the policy. This information will affect the Other Than Collision coverage premium
#6 – Liability Coverage
This section is the same regardless of the car you drive. It spells out the maximum amount the insurance company will pay in case of an accident. In the example above, we have a 250/500/250 coverage. This means:
Bodily Injury Liability
This coverage helps you pay for another person’s injuries in a car accident if you are found to be at fault. In this example, the maximum amount the insurance company will pay is $250,000 per person for a total of $500,000 per incident. For example, if you crash into another car with four passengers and each person sustained $200,000 worth of injuries, your policy will only pay a maximum of $500,000, leaving you with a $300,000 liability exposure.
Considering the cost of medical care in the U.S., it is a good idea to carry a $1 million or even $2 million Umbrella Insurance Policy to reduce the chance of insufficient coverage.
Property Damage Liability
This coverage helps you pay for damage you cause to another vehicle or property (e.g., fence, building, etc.).The $250k amount may look like a lot, but consider what happens if you caused a multiple car crash, or you caused a tractor trailer to overturn. One of these incidents can easily cost more than $250,000.
As you can see, if you only carry the minimum coverage of 25/50/20 for Virginia or 30/60/15 for Maryland, you barely have enough to cover any type of incident. For about a 10% increase in premium, you can usually increase your coverage amount by 5-10 times.
This coverage pays for medical expenses if you and your passengers suffer injuries in a car accident no matter who caused the accident. This coverage also covers you and your family members if the person sustained injuries while on foot or while riding in someone else’s car.
An uninsured motorist is a driver who does not have auto insurance or does not carry enough insurance to cover the accident. When you suffer damages caused by an uninsured motorist, this coverage protects you up to the limits as if the uninsured motorist carries a coverage stated on your policy. In this example, if an uninsured motorist hits you, you are protected as if the person carries a 250/500/250 has coverages and limits of liability.
If you do not have uninsured motorist coverage, you would have to seek compensation through the legal system.
Your liability coverages and premiums are independent of the vehicle you drive. Your liability coverages only cover damages to other people and other vehicles. If your car is damaged, you have to carry vehicle specific coverage (see below).
#7 – Vehicle Specific Coverage
For each of your vehicle, you have two primary coverages: Collision and Other than Collision (aka, Comprehensive)
This coverage pays for the cost of repair or replacement of your car when a collision causes the damage, i.e., when you crash into another vehicle or object (e.g., building, fence, tree, etc.).
Other than Collision
This coverage pays for the cost of repair or replacement of your car when the damage not caused by a collision. Some of these causes include vandalism, fire, theft, objects hitting your car (e.g., road debris, hails, etc.), or animal hitting your car (if you hit a deer while driving, it is not considered a collision).
This is the amount you pay out of pocket before the insurance company starts paying. For example, if you suffered $5,000 damage to your car and you have a $500 deductible, the insurance company will only pay $4,500. The higher your deductible, the lower your premium; however, if your car is financed or leased, the lender or the lessor may restrict the deductible amount.
Shopping for a cheaper insurance policy is not always a good thing if you have to sacrifice the coverage, stability of the insurance company, or their level of service. When you’re doing your comparison shopping, make sure you compare the annual premium based on roughly the same amount of coverage and take into consideration the quality of the insurance company. Most importantly, you have to make sure your insurance policy provides you with sufficient protection against the most probable losses.
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Pinyo is a full-service Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices PenFed Realty and an insurance agent with McEvoy Insurance & Financial Services. He specializes in representing clients in the purchase and sale of residential and investment properties throughout Virginia and Maryland areas around DC.