Car Insurance Terms

Car Insurance has hundreds of really boring terms. Hopefully this will help.

  • Actual Cash Value (ACV) Market value of car
  • Agent Person licensed by the state to sell insurance. May also assist you in making claims.
  • Arbitration When there is a disagreement with a settlement offer, an outside arbiter looks at the facts presented.
  • Auto Replacement Coverage Supplemental car insurance coverage that guarantees your car will be completely repaired or replaced, even if the costs exceed its depreciated value.
  • Bodily Injury Liability Coverage Coverage that pays for another person's bodily injury or death in an accident that you may be found legally liable to pay.
  • Broker Many states don't make a distinction between brokers and agents. Brokers will usually check with many insurance companies to find you the best price.
  • Betterment When old or original parts are replaced by newer parts.
  • Binder A temporary insurance agreement applicable until the policy is issued and delivered.
  • Cancellation If the premiums aren't paid, an insurance company can cancel your personal auto policy by giving 10 days written notice. The company is required to give you 30 days written notice if it is canceling your policy for any other reason.
  • Captive Agent An agent who sells only one brand of insurance, i.e. State Farm.
  • Claim When you ask the insurance company to pay you an amount under the terms of your policy.
  • Claims Adjuster Person hired by an insurance company to settle claims. The adjuster can be a company employee or an independent party under contract with the company.
  • Collision Coverage Pays for damage to your vehicle when it collides with another vehicle or object, or if it overturns. This is often required when a car loan is involved.
  • Comprehensive Coverage Coverage that pays for damage to or the loss of your vehicle from causes other than collision, example: bad weather, vandalism, flood, fire and theft.
  • Credit Score A number given based on your ability to pay bills, loans, etc. This is often used to determine car insurance premiums.
  • Custom/Non-factory Equipment Coverage Covers customized features such as those found on conversion vans, as well as non-factory items such as tape decks, cellular phones or CB radios.
  • Declarations Page ("Dec Page") A page your company sends you to show your premium, coverages and endorsements. Some insurance companies only send a new declarations page at renewal unless there's a change to your policy. You should get a revised declarations page whenever there's a change to your policy.
  • Deductible The amount the insured person must pay before the insurance company pays for a claim. High deductibles equal lower premiums.
  • Endorsement Amendment to the policy used to add, change, or delete coverage. Also referred to as a "rider."
  • Exclusions Specific situations or circumstances listed in your policy describing when benefits will not be paid.
  • Gap Insurance Usually for leased cars. Insurance to pay the difference between how much you owe on a car and what it is worth in the event of a theft or accident.
  • Independent Agent An agent who sells different brands of insurance.
  • Lapsed Policy A policy that has been terminated due to non-payment.
  • Liability Coverage Pays for losses to other people and their property caused by negligence on your part.
  • Non-Bound Application Application sent simply to find out if you will be accepted.
  • Non-Renewal Insurance company not renewing your policy when it expires.
  • Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Automobile insurance providing benefits including, but not limited to, medical expenses, loss of income resulting from an automobile accident, and essential services. Mandatory in some states.
  • Policy The contract form issued by the company to explain the coverage provided.
  • Premium How much you pay to have the insurance.
  • Proof of Loss Estimate of damages you provide to an insurance company to support your claim. Insurance companies often use this document to figure how much they will pay.
  • Property Damage Liability Pays for damage to another person's car or property.
  • Quote Estimated charge for insurance premium.
  • Rental Reimbursement/Transportation Expenses Optional policy benefit that pays for a rental car if your vehicle is damaged.
  • Settlement After negotiating, the amount you agree to accept from the insurance company as full payment for your loss.
  • Total Loss When a the damage costs more to repair than the cost of the vehicle. When your vehicle is "totaled".
  • Towing and Labor Coverage Reimbursement when your vehicle breaks down or is damaged and must be towed to a repair shop or to another location.
  • Umbrella Liability Insurance You must carry a certain amount of underlying liability coverage before you may buy an umbrella policy. This coverage kicks in if you are sued for an amount greater than the limits of your auto policy.
  • Underinsured Motorist Bodily Injury Coverage (UIM) Is coverage for any bodily injury resulting from the operation of a motor vehicle, which is covered under a liability policy at the time of the injury causing occurrence, but which has insufficient liability coverage to compensate fully the injured party for all special and general damages.
  • Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury (UM) Coverage Covers your bodily injury against a driver who has no auto liability insurance.
  • Uninsured Motorist Property Damage Insurance (UMPD) Covers damage to your vehicle caused by an identified, at-fault, uninsured driver. This option is only offered if you choose not to purchase collision coverage.