Knowing what your insurance covers in case of an accident or emergency is imperative, but deciphering an insurance policy can be tricky. Clients often admit to us that they’re not sure exactly what coverage they’re paying for, how that coverage affects their claims, or even what to look for when looking at their policy.
Luckily, all the important information for any insurance policy can be found right at the beginning on the declarations page.
What is an insurance declarations page?
The insurance declarations page, or “dec page” as it’s sometimes called, is typically found on the first page of your insurance policy and is a summary of the most important information in your policy. This page outlines the cost of your premiums and itemizes what you’re covered for. It can also be used as a proof of coverage.
Your dec page can serve as a handy reference when dealing with a personal injury claim, as long as you know how to decode the information on it.
Information on your declarations page
Your insurance declarations page includes the information you would expect to find about your policy, like the name and address of the insurance company, your policy number, the dates your policy is effective, and the vehicles the policy covers. It also lists information on all the parties relevant to the policy, an itemized list of your coverage, any limits to your coverage, the cost of your premium, and any discounts that you receive towards your premium.
Parties relevant to the policy:
The parties named in your policy typically include:
- Named Insured: the person who bought the policy (most likely you).
- Additional drivers: any other drivers who are covered under the policy, like spouses or children.
- Excluded drivers: if there are other drivers in your household not covered by the policy.
- Lienholder: if you’re leasing your vehicle or purchased it using a loan, this is the entity who owns the lease or loan.
- Agent: the representative from the insurance company who sold you the policy and their contact information.
This can be the trickiest part of the dec page to understand, just because there are so many different types of coverage available. Most states, like North Carolina and South Carolina, do not require additional types of coverage aside from liability insurance and uninsured/ underinsured motorist coverage, although additional types of coverage are encouraged.
Some of the common types of coverage you might find listed on your declarations page include:
- Liability insurance: If you are at-fault in an accident, this covers any injury you might cause to the other driver, their passengers, or a pedestrian with your vehicle. This is required by law in North and South Carolina.
- Uninsured/ underinsured motorist coverage: If you are in an accident that is the fault of another driver, this covers the cost of your repairs or medical bills if they don’t have insurance or don’t have enough insurance to cover them. This is required by law in North and South Carolina.
- Personal injury protection (PIP): If you are at-fault in an accident, this covers medical expenses for any injury you or your passengers incur.
- Collision coverage: This covers repairs to your vehicle that result from a collision with another vehicle or property.
- Comprehensive coverage: This covers damages to your vehicle that are the result of anything other than a collision with another vehicle or property, such as weather, theft, or civil disturbances.
- Gap insurance: If you’re still paying off a loan on your vehicle and experience a total loss, this pays the difference, or gap, between what your insurance company will pay you for your vehicle and what you still owe your lender, if the total amount isn’t covered by the limit of your policy. Some lienholders offer their own gap insurance, as well.
Your coverage might also include other optional add-on protections such as roadside assistance, rental reimbursement, new car replacement, or towing.
Keep in mind that, while auto insurance policies list the insured drivers, the policy typically follows the vehicles that are covered and not the drivers, except in the case of rental vehicles. Meaning, your policy does not provide coverage to you if you are in an accident while driving a friend’s car.
Limits and/or deductibles:
Your insurance deductible is the amount of money you need to pay out-of-pocket in a year before your insurance kicks in to cover a loss. The deductible typically only needs to be met once per year, although some insurances require separate deductibles for collision and comprehensive coverage. Your premium does not count towards your deductible.
For example, if your collision deductible is $500 and you’re in an accident that results in $1000 of damage to your vehicle, you would need to pay $500 out-of-pocket before your insurance covers the other $500. If, within the same year, you were then to incur another $300 worth of damage to your vehicle in another collision, the damage would be fully covered by your insurance. However, if your car was then damaged in a hail storm, requiring $200 worth of repairs, and you have a separate deductible for comprehensive coverage, you would need to meet that deductible out-of-pocket before your insurance would pay to repair the hail damage.
You purchase a certain amount of each coverage, or liability, from your insurance. You will see these amounts referred to as the limits of liability on your dec page because they are the amount of liability your insurance company owes to you. Your coverage limit is the total maximum amount your insurance company will pay to cover any losses you incur over the course of a year; once you reach your limit of liability in any type of coverage, you are responsible to pay the remaining amount out of your pocket.
Some coverages, like rental reimbursement, might set a daily limit plus an overall max that your insurance provider will pay per claim. Others, like collision coverage or personal injury protection, may have a per person limit as well as a per accident limit.
Premium and discounts
Your premium is what you pay for your coverage. This is typically billed monthly, although some insurances offer annual and biannual premium options. Some dec pages only list the total amount you owe for your premium, while others break your premium down into itemized amounts per coverage type and vehicle covered, to show you exactly how the figure is reached. Your premium is determined by a number of individual factors, including your age, sex, location, driving history, and the type of vehicle you drive.
You may qualify for discounts towards your premium for a number of factors, including safe driving, insuring multiple vehicles together, bundling with home insurance, or driving a new vehicle. If you or your insured child are a student, you may even qualify for a discount for good grades or membership in an honor society.
Your premium does not count towards your deductible.
SeiferFlatow will get you compensated
Knowing your insurance coverage is the first step in getting your claim compensated after incurring a loss in an auto accident. If you’ve been in an accident that has left you injured or your vehicle damaged, SeiferFlatow is here to help. Our experienced personal injury attorney will fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Contact us to schedule a consultation and get started.