Your Auto insurance renewal packet just came in the mail, and you pulled your new ID cards out from the pile of paperwork and got them ready to replace your expiring ones next month.  Great job!  But what about all those other papers that came in your renewal packet?

While your updated ID cards are certainly helpful, the most important part of your renewal packet is something you may be overlooking – the Declarations Pages.  They’re a summary of your policy and the coverages it offers, and they’re key to understanding your auto insurance.  Every insurance company will have their own design and wording, so let’s break down the elements that all Declarations Pages share.  Your Declarations Pages may have the following sections in different orders or with different headings. 

Policy Information and Premium/Fees

These sections are usually the first ones you see.  Policy Information will contain your policy number, insurance carrier, your agent’s contact info, effective and expiration dates (or the policy term), the named insured(s), and your mailing address.  The Premium/Fees section will show you the amount due for your renewal, but it may not be a bill.  Many insurance companies send out renewal notices before they send out the renewal bill.  You may also find a list current or potential discounts.

Household Drivers

Every driver in the household is listed here.  This is a great place to check if you need to notify your agent of recent changes, for example if you have a teen driver who just got licensed!  Members of your household who are excluded from driving may also be listed here.

Liability Limits/Coverage Information

This is the “meat and potatoes” of the Declarations Pages and contains your specific coverage limits, but it can also be the most confusing if your insurance company uses terms you don’t recognize.

                Liability – This covers damages that you cause to other people (Bodily Injury) and their property (Property Damage), up to the limit listed.   If there are two numbers for Bodily Injury, for example “$100,000/$300,000”, that means your insurance provides coverage for up to $100,000 per person, and up to $300,000 per accident.  If there is one number under Liability, you have a “Combined Single Limit” policy, where the Bodily Injury and Property Damage are both covered under one payment limit.

                Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist – These coverages are related to the actions of other drivers.  Uninsured Motorist limits provide coverage if someone without insurance, or a hit-an-run driver, causes you Bodily Injury, up to the limits specified.  Underinsured Motorist limits kick in if someone with lower liability limits than you (for example, $25,000/$50,000) causes you Bodily Injury beyond the limits of their policy, and will pay up to the limits of yours (for example, $100,000/$300,000).

                Medical Payments – This provides coverage if you but also your passenger are injured in the vehicle, for example in a single-vehicle accident, or if you hit a deer and sustain injuries.

                Physical Damage – Didn’t we just go over this one?  Nope, that was Property Damage!  Physical Damage is commonly called Comprehensive and Collision, or Collision and Other-than-Collision.  This is an optional coverage that comes with deductibles (from $0 to over $1,000), which will pay to fix or replace your car up to the limit of its assessed value, minus the deductible.  Collision coverage is for when your vehicle is damaged by hitting another vehicle, or a stationary object.  Comprehensive/Other-than-Collision coverage is for when your vehicle is damaged by something beyond your control, like hitting an animal, fire, flood, falling tree, theft, or an object flying through the air which doesn’t make contact with the road before you hit it.

Other Coverages – These can include Glass Deductibles, Towing/Roadside, Rental Reimbursement/Loss of Use, Lost Key Replacement, Identity Theft, Loss of Income, Driver Death Benefits, and more.

Vehicle Information

All vehicles insured by the policy will be listed here, usually with a Vehicle Number assigned to each one.  Some companies list the Comprehensive and Collision deductibles here, others list all vehicle-specific coverages.  If you have financed or leased, your Lienholder/Lessor may be listed with the vehicle, or all Lienholders may have their own section of the Declarations Pages, or be listed as “Loss Payees”.

Rating Information/Discounts and Surcharges

This section will show what factors are potentially increasing or decreasing your premium.  Some companies will show rated accidents and violations here.  Other companies will list vehicle usage/mileage, driver age/experience, and other factors.

Policy and Endorsements

The pages directly after your Declarations Pages generally contain any changes to your policy that the insurance company has made since your last renewal.  These probably use insurance policy language and may be difficult to understand, but there may be changes there that could potentially affect you. 

Insure with the People you Trust

The agents at Kasmann Insurance want you to understand your Auto Insurance coverages, and that starts with a thorough understanding of your Declarations Pages.  For a more in-depth look at auto insurance coverages, click here.  If there is anything in your renewal packet that you don’t understand, or if this article mentions a coverage that you don’t see in your Declarations Pages, please contact us to set up an appointment.  We LOVE answering insurance questions, and are committed to making sure that your Auto Insurance policy is correctly suited to your specific needs.

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