Prepare for Winter Driving - Part II

A thorough policy review will help you avoid coverage surprises.

There are three primary parts to examine. The policy declarations page details the policy number, effective dates, coverages, limits, vehicles, and other identifying information. The insurance identification cards confirm coverage for the vehicles listed on the policy. The policy form is a legal contract that outlines coverages, limitations, exclusions, and conditions.

Things to note on the declarations page:

  • Personal information. Verify your name and address are accurate.
  • Vehicle information. Confirm the declarations page lists the correct make, model, year, and vehicle identification number for each car.
  • Lienholder information. Check the lender's name and address.
  • Driver information. All household members of driving age should be listed as potential operators. Ask the agent or company representative to verify covered drivers if they are not identified on the declarations page. Not disclosing household members may jeopardize coverage if there is an accident.
  • Basic coverages. Be sure the requested liability, uninsured and underinsured motorist, medical payments, and physical damage (comp and collision) coverages, deductibles, and limits are noted on the declarations page.
  • Additional coverage. The declarations page should reference towing, rental car reimbursement, leased vehicle gap coverage, new car replacement, uninsured motorist property damage coverage, etc. if the policy provides these extra coverages.
  • Discounts. Many insurers list discounts that affect your premium on the declarations page.

Next, turn your attention to insurance identification cards. There should be one card per insured vehicle. Verify the policy period is current, and matches the declarations page. Check for accurate identifying information including your name and address, vehicle description and identification number, policy number, etc. Keep the identification card in your vehicle in case you are asked to show proof of insurance.

Take a good look at the insurance policy form to complete the review process. Pay close attention to the limitations and exclusions. For example, insurance policies typically exclude coverage on vehicles used for pizza delivery or hauling for hire. Review policyholder duties following an accident or loss as well. There are requirements for reporting a loss, cooperating in a claim investigation, providing proof of loss, and more.