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How To Read a Car Insurance Policy

A Complete Policy

Go to the beginning of this tutorial: How To Read Your Car Insurance Policy.

In Part 1 we learned that what is commonly known as an ''insurance policy'' is actually a collection of mix-and-match boilerplate documents known as 'policy forms'. The insurance company asssembles these, staples them together and thats your policy. Your next door neighbor might have the same company but different documents making up their policy. Generally the exact content of the policy depends on where you live and what coverages you personally purchased.

In Part 2 we delved a bit into how policy forms come into being, how they are named and other fascinating details (OK it was pretty dry... but we needed the details to set up a payoff later in this series).

Now its time to look at an actual example of a policy - breaking it out into its collection of forms - so you can see how the policy is constructed. Once thats done you'll be able to click on links for each form and we'll break down what is happening and what is being said in each. We will use the industry-standard ISO forms (we covered what that was in Part 2). You will be able to take your own forms and compare them to the generic standard...

In fact, thats where the real benefit is to this dreary exercise: Some car insurance companies write up their own custom forms. You could find gaps or unusual restrictions that you would never have guessed existed, had you not been able to look at a benchmark for comparison.

In order, these are the forms in the forms list (seen here and described in Part 1):
Get the Form (pdf) Form Name What is it?
  PC01230611 This is the Declarations Page, which was described already in Part 1.
PP00010105 PP00010105 This is the Personal Auto Policy form. This is the core of your insurance policy. All other forms extend or restrict the coverages given in this form. This is the actual ISO policy form and the benchmark standard for most U.S. states.
PP01691107 PP01691107 This is the Amendment of Policy Provisions for the State of California. Most states have one of these. the contents of this form encompass the changes that the State of California Department of Insurance requires insofar as deviations from the generic policy form are concerned.
PP04870805 PP04870805 This is the Uninsured Motorists Coverage endorsement for the State of California. The California Department of Insurance mandates that this form replaces the Uninsured Motorist section found in the Personal Auto Policy form above.
CV90111112 CV90110209 This is the Collector Vehicle Specified Coverage Ensdorsement. This endorsement spells out all the ways this collector policy is different from generic coverage. If you want to know how a classic car insurance policy is different from a standard car insurance policy, this will give you an inside look under the hood at the specifics. If you have a regular car insurance policy ignore this form.
PP13011299 PP13011299 The Coverage For Damage to Your Auto Exclusion Endorsement. The title is almost longer than the text on the page. If we tried to explain it here there wouldn't be anything left to say on the article dedicated to it.
  PCIDCA0611 In our example/dummy policy, this is the insurance ID card. We didn't make up an ID card for these articles, and they aren't difficult to read or understand. So we'll just say: Make sure your ID card is on your forms list ... and that you have an ID card in the first place.