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Auto Insurance Policy Overview

Article 2 of 11 in Understanding Your Car Insurance Policy

As you shop around for the best auto insurance coverage to fully protect yourself, it is important that you know what to expect out of your auto insurance policy, and how to find one that works for you.

What You Need to Know


  • How the auto insurance policy will protect you: There are several different types of auto insurance coverage contained within your auto insurance policy. Some examples of coverage you can get include:

TIP: When comparing car insurance quotes, identify what type of coverage are available and purchase a plan that covers your needs.


  • What the minimum auto insurance requirements are in your state: States now require you to have at least a minimum amount of auto insurance in order to drive or, in some cases, to register your vehicle. Typically, state minimum coverage is only concerned with the type of auto insurance coverage that pays for damages you cause to others during an accident. Know your state's minimum coverage requirements, and factor that in to every quote.

  • What your insurance company does for you: Your auto insurer will have a duty under your insurance contract to pay for damages or injuries as they agree. It is not uncommon for the insurance company to dispute a claim, so you may want to do research online about how easy the company is to work with before you purchase insurance from them.

  • What your duties are when filing a claim under your auto insurance policy: You must pay your premiums, and provide any information the insurance company needs when providing you coverage. Additionally, there are a number of steps to go through when you wish to file a claim.

TIP: Although cost is a big factor when purchasing auto insurance, you will need to be aware of all the other aspects of your auto insurance coverage so you can make a good decision that is affordable and adequately insures your vehicle.

Your Auto Insurance Policy

Although the details of your auto insurance policy will change depending on what you elect to pay for, there are some general provisions in every policy that you need to be aware of.


  • Your insurance is only valid in the United States or Puerto Rico

  • Your insurance is limited. Every type of coverage in your policy comes with exclusions explaining things that it will not cover (intentional damage, damage caused during a crime, etc). Additionally, an insurance company will only pay for damages up to a certain amount. If you want your policy to cover more situations, or to pay more money for damages, then you will need to pay more money. You can select the extent of your insurance policy, and change your price accordingly.

  • If you add a second vehicle, your premiums will go up. If you have an attached trailer, then it is considered the same car for purposes of your liability for damages caused. However, in regards to damages to the trailer, it will be considered a second vehicle that you need to purchase extra insurance for.

  • If you intend on filing a lawsuit against the insurance company, you must make sure that you have taken all the necessary steps with the insurance company to try to resolve the dispute. Regardless of your insurance policy, if you have a claim dispute with your insurance company, take advantage of a free consultation with an experienced car accident attorney.

  • Your policy can be canceled or not renewed if you violate certain rules.Before signing a policy, ask your insurance agent how the policy can be canceled so you can avoid any problems.

  • Changing your policy requires certain steps. Ask your insurance agent what you need to do to change your coverage or to add cars or people to your insurance plan.

TIP: Make every effort to understand these important aspects of your insurance policy. When shopping for quotes, have insurance agents explain the important aspects of the policy to you. An experienced attorney can also help you understand your insurance policy.

The Insurance Company's Duty

Your auto policy is a contract or an agreement between you and your insurance company. In a nutshell, your auto insurance provider is agreeing to insure you for the coverage and limits of liability set out in the policy declarations page in exchange for your premium payments, as long as you pay when the premium is due. Sounds simple enough. You pay them on time, and they'll cover you if you have an accident.

Within each part, the policy tells you what is covered, any definitions that apply only to that part, any additional payments the company will make to you or for you within that coverage, what exclusions apply (i.e., what they won't pay for), what limits apply, and any other provisions that pertain to that coverage only.

Filing a Claim

One of your most important duties when filing a claim is to provide immediate notice of the accident. Your insurance policy will tell you that you must send your insurance provider prompt notice of an accident with details such as: time, place, and circumstances of the accident, including the names and addresses of any injured persons and witnesses. Your notice MUST be prompt, so call your insurance immediately after a car accident. If you are making a claim for any coverage under the policy, you must also:


  • Cooperate with the insurance company and assist them with the claim
  • Send the company any legal papers you received related to the claim
  • If you are making a claim for an injury, you must have a physical exam with a doctor the insurance company chooses (at the company's expense)
  • Give the company permission to obtain your medical and other records

There are other duties under your policy that you need to be aware of, and those can vary depending on the type of insurance you purchase and the company you purchase it from. Keep the above mentioned general obligations in mind when filing a claim, and be sure to work with your insurance agent or an insurance attorney to fully understand the rest of your responsibilities under your policy.

TIP: If your insurance company is making it difficult for you to file a claim, or their settlement offer is too low and you would like dispute it and negotiate a fair deal, you can consult with a car accident attorney for any possible legal remedies.

Before making any auto insurance purchase, you should always get several quotes and compare them to find the best price and service. Click here to visit the Free Advice quote center and get started today!

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