Insurance 101

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Insurance 101

Insurance 101 - Auto

Reading an insurance policy from front to back is not a common practice by most consumers; however, doing so will educate you on your policy terms and coverages so you can confirm that you’re receiving the protection you really need.

Insurance 101 is designed to help simplify the definitions of insurance terms commonly used in the business. We do encourage you to speak with an insurance agent to answer any of your questions or provide the additional information.

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Actual Cost Value

The value of the insured property, in dollars, at the time of loss. This amount is whatever it will cost to replace the property, minus a deduction for depreciation (age, wear and tear, etc.)


The person who handles the settlement of a claim on behalf of the insurance company, either as an employee of the company or an independent engaged by contract. Also known as a claim representative.


A legal agreement between an insurance buyer and an insurance company or its agent. It provides temporary insurance coverage until a policy is either issued or refused.

Bodily Injury

Injury to the body of a person as specifically defined in an insurance policy. Bodily injury liability is the legal responsibility for medical and related costs that may result from injury to the life or health of another person.

Bodily Injury Coverage

Liability Coverage which covers the injuries to others that you are deemed responsible for as the result of an at-fault accident.


The guarantee to pay if specific losses occur, according to the terms of the insurance policy.

Coverage Limits

The largest total amount the insurance company will pay for covered losses. Many policies have multiple limits a certain amount per person, another amount per accident, and sometimes an aggregate limit on all losses paid during the policy term.

Comprehensive Coverage

Covers damage to the auto not resulting from a collision. Example: Car is parked in a parking lot and a tree limb falls, breaking the windshield.

Collision Coverage

Insurance against a loss resulting from damage to the covered auto through collision with another object

Declaration Page

Normally the first page of a policy, it includes the insured's name, how long the coverage applies and how much insurance is being provided. Also called the declarations page.


The estimated or claimed amount of money due in reparation for injury or loss suffered.


A specified amount that is deducted from a loss before policy coverage begins. (Example: Auto insured on a policy with a $250 deductible sustains $1,000 in damage, then the policyholder pays the first $250 and the insurance company pays the $750 balance.)


An amendment to an insurance policy to provide coverage for special circumstances not included in the basic contract, usually for an additional premium.

Expiration Date

The day and hour when the policy will terminate if not canceled earlier or continued by payment of renewal premium.


Provisions of an insurance policy that state what the company will not pay for.


Refers to the possibility of loss faced by the policyholder (Example: Having a fireplace in the home presents a higher exposure due to the possibility of a fire.)

Lapse in Coverage

Expiration or cancellation of an insurance policy by nonpayment of premium.


A hold or claim one party has on the property of another, usually as security for a debt or other obligation. An example would be an automobile loan.


The party who holds the lien on the vehicle. Usually a bank or automobile finance company. (e.g. Ford Motor Credit)


The basis of a claim for indemnity, most often referring to a financial loss through a decrease in the quantity, quality or value of insured property, due to an occurrence insured against by the policy.


A condition of being bound by law to do something, enforceable in the courts. For insurance purposes it most often involves the payment of damages.

Named Insured

The person on whom, or on whose property, the insurance is written. Most often this will be the policyholder. The person who applied for, pays for, and is issued the insurance policy.


An accidental event, or series of events, that leads to a loss.

Physical Damage Coverage

Normally refers to the comprehensive and collision coverages of a vehicle policy.


The person who applied for, pays for, and is issued the insurance policy.

Policy Term

The period of time that an insurance policy is to continue in force. Common policy terms are six months and one year.


The money paid for an insurance policy.

Proof of Loss

A written statement, with supporting documentation (if any) provided to the insurance company as a basis for paying a claim.

Property Damage

Refers to damage to the property of others.

Property Damage Liability

Liability Coverage which covers the damages to the property of others that you are deemed responsible for as the result of an at-fault accident.

Replacement Cost Coverage

This provision, sometimes included in the basic policy and sometimes added by endorsement, covers replacement of the property lost without a deduction for depreciation.


Recovery of money from a third party, by the insurance company, in connection with payment of a loss to a policyholder.


A condition of having policy limits that are not adequate to cover all needs that can reasonably be anticipated.

Underinsured Motorist Coverage

The auto policy provision pays the policyholder in the event an accident is caused by a driver whose liability insurance is not adequate to cover the full amount of damages.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage

The auto policy provision pays the policyholder in the event an accident is caused by a driver who has no liability insurance.

Insurance 101

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