There are several different types of automobile insurance coverage available to owners and drivers in California. Coverages range from the third party liability, which protects the policyholder in the event of a car accident caused by their negligence, to collision and comprehensive to collision, which covers damages to a vehicle regardless of whose fault it is. Other common policy provisions include medical payments and uninsured motorist protection. Even within these coverages, different amounts can be purchased, including state minimum amounts (mandated by California law) and much higher amounts that provide for greater protection to the policy holder and other insured persons.
The terms of a given policy will be outlined on what is called a “Declarations Page.” Some insurance companies do not use the term “declarations” page but instead will list the policy terms on a “Certificate of Insurance.” Both of these document outlining coverages are different from an insurance card. The insurance card simply contains information that you need to provide to a police officer or another driver in the event of a car accident, such as the policy number, claims telephone number, and effective dates.
Third party liability, also referred to simply as “liability,” protects against claims and lawsuits by third parties in the event of a car accident resulting from your negligent driving, and pays for the third party claims up to the amount of coverage you have purchased with your policy.
Medical payments coverage, also called Med Pay, covers occupants of a vehicle regardless of fault. It is akin to a small health insurance policy purchased with your automobile insurance for the benefit of you and vehicle occupants/guests. Med pay is usually very small. In most cases it is no more than $5,000.00.
Uninsured motorist protects you and vehicle occupants in the event that you or your vehicle occupants/guests are injured in a car accident caused by the negligence of a driver who turns out to be uninsured or has inadequate insurance to compensate you for your injuries sustained in an auto accident.
Collision protection covers the vehicle, regardless of fault, for damages resulting from an accident. It is used in the event that you caused a car accident, or in the event that the other driver who caused the collision was uninsured. In the event that you are forced to use your collision coverage because the other driver who caused the collision was uninsured, your premium should not increase because policy premiums are priced based on vehicle value and fault.
Comprehensive covers the vehicle, regardless of fault, for damages resulting from anything other than an accident, for example, vandalism. It is used in the event that your vehicle is damaged from something other than an automobile accident. This type of coverage works very similarly to collision coverage.