How to Read a Declaration Page
Each time you renew an auto insurance policy, you should receive a declaration page. Often called the dec page in the insurance world, the declaration page is usually the front page or one of the first pages of your policy and is located inside the policy jacket. The declaration page specifies the named insured, address, policy period, location of premises, policy limits and coverage terms and limits. When you buy car insurance from a new insurer, the most important thing you can do is to look through the coverages listed on the dec page. Make sure there are no mistakes with your name and Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). Your declaration page will also list other vital pieces of information so make sure everything is accurate.
If there are errors on your declaration page, you’ll want to contact your agent right away, to fix the mistakes as soon as possible. Your declaration page is also where coverages you bought are listed along with the limits placed on those coverages. Make sure that the limits are appropriate so that you will not be forced to pay for coverage out of pocket if you find yourself in an accident. Remember, your liability limits reflect what you are covered for, if an accident is your fault and the other driver and passengers experience losses. Only collision coverage will cover your car if you were at fault. If you do not have collision coverage, you are not covered for repairs to your car if you are ever at fault in an accident.
No two declaration pages look the same because all cars have different values and rates. Also, each insurer has their own unique template. However, all car insurance declaration pages have most of the same information, which you’ll find below.
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Below are the contents of most common declaration pages.
Policy Number and Policy Period
Your policy number is unique to you. Sometimes it’s called an account number and sometimes you have both a policy number and an account number, depending on your insurer. You’ll need this information if you contact the insurer about information pertaining to your policy. The policy period is the period of time you’re covered (usually six months or a year).
Car Insurance Coverages and Limits
You’ll see all the coverages you signed up for along with limits. Some of the coverages will be required and others will be add-on coverages, which may or may not be required by your lienholder, if you still owe a balance on your vehicle.
Location of the Premises
Your home or garaging address should appear on the dec page.
- You’ll likely see a breakdown for liability insurance in two parts: bodily injury liability coverage, which covers you for injuries to the other driver and his/her passengers. You’ll also see property damage liability coverage, which covers damages to the other party’s car and any other object you may have hit. Note that with both kinds of liability coverage there are limits. If the damages you incurred are more than the stated amount in your declaration page, you will have to pay for it on your own. Make sure you have adequate limits before any mishap does occur.
On your declaration page, you will see a section on what you’re responsible to pay before your coverage begins. This amount is called a deductible. You have chosen this deductible amount but may change it if you decide you want to pay less each month (you’d choose a higher deductible) and vice versa. Make sure to choose a deductible amount you can afford.
You may not have asked for it but other people of driving age that you live with may be listed on your declaration page. If you do not want any of these people to drive your car, not even during an emergency, you should have them excluded, especially if they bring your rate by being a high-risk driver. Make sure, however, that you will not loan this person your car because if you exclude him/her they will not be covered if they are in an accident. Your insurance follows your car, and that exclusion will render you uncovered.
As mentioned above, you never want to list someone who may potentially borrow your car at any point. But, if that person is absolutely not allowed to use your car and is a high-risk driver or teen, it may be a good idea to exclude him/her to keep your rate lower. If you own a home and rent out a room or portion of your property to others, you should list these people as excluded because they technically live with you and may appear on your dec page.
Loss Payee or Lessor
If you are still paying a loan you have what is called a lienholder on the vehicle. This lienholder or loss payee should be on the declaration page because they will be directly paid in the case of an accident. When you owe money towards a car loan, you have collision coverage because it’s required. In the event of a loss, the lienholder gets back the debt you own them. You will only receive money if the value of the car is more than the amount you owed towards it.
Special Equipment or Non-factory Equipment
If you have exotic customs: pricey wheels, wheel accessories, spoilers and the like, these are often considered special equipment. If these parts are stolen or damaged, you want to be covered for them, so look for these items in the section called Special Equipment or something similar to it. If you don’t see these parts listed anywhere on your declaration page, contact your agent ASAP. These items will only be covered by comprehensive insurance if stolen and if they are listed on your declaration page.
Discounts on car insurance must be listed on the declaration page of your policy jacket or else they may not be applied. Discounts vary from insurer to insurer so make sure to make use of all of them as they apply to the drivers listed on your car insurance. Some discounts include: military, good student discount, multi-car discount, multi-policy discount, low-mileage discount, good-driver discount and mature driver discount.
Gap Coverage and Other Endorsements/Riders
If you’ve determined that you owe more money on your car than it is worth, you’ll likely opt to buy gap coverage so that you’re not stuck with the bill if repairs exceed your loss limit. Any riders you add on, like car rental, roadside assistance insurance, gap insurance or any other type of add-on you’ve discussed with your agent are missing from your declaration page, call to have this mistaken amended.
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