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Home insurance

Home insurance, also commonly called homeowner’s insurance (often abbreviated in the US real estate industry as HOI), is a type of property insurance that covers a private residence. It is an insurance policy that combines various personal insurance protections, which can include losses occurring to one’s home, its contents, loss of use (additional living expenses), or loss of other personal possessions of the homeowner, as well as liability insurance for accidents that may happen at the home or at the hands of the homeowner within the policy territory.

Additionally, Homeowner’s insurance provides financial protection against disasters. A standard Home insurance policy insures the home itself along with the things kept inside.


Homeowner’s policy is a multiple-line insurance policy, meaning that it includes both property insurance and liability coverage, with an indivisible premium, meaning that a single premium is paid for all risks. This means that it covers both damage to your property and your liability for any injuries and property damage caused by you or members of your family to other people. It may also include damage caused by household pets.The U.S. uses standardized policy forms that divide coverage into several categories. Coverage limits are typically provided as a percentage of the primary Coverage A, which is coverage for the main dwelling.

The cost of homeowner’s insurance often depends on what it would cost to replace the house and which additional endorsements or riders are attached to the policy. The insurance policy is a legal contract between the insurance carrier (insurance company) and the named insured(s). It is a contract of indemnity and will put the insured back to the state he/she was in prior to the loss. Typically, claims due to floods or war (whose definition typically includes a nuclear explosion from any source) are excluded from coverage, amongst other standard exclusions (like termites). Special insurance can be purchased for these possibilities, including flood insurance. Insurance is adjusted to reflect the cost of replacement, usually upon application of an inflation factor or a cost index.

Further information: Replacement value § Home insurance in the United States

Major factors in price estimation include location, coverage, and the amount of insurance, which is based on the estimated cost to rebuild the home (“replacement cost”).

If insufficient coverage is purchased to rebuild the home, the claim’s payout may be subject to a co-insurance penalty. In this scenario, the insured will be subject to an out of pocket fee as a penalty. Insurers use vendors to estimate the costs, including CoreLogic subsidiary Marshall Swift-Boeckh, Verisk PropertyProfile, and E2Value, but leave the responsibility ultimately up to the consumer. In 2013, a survey found that about 60% of homes are undervalued by an estimated 17 percent.[3] In some cases, estimates can be too low because of “demand surge” after a catastrophe.[2] As a safeguard against a wrong estimate, some insurers offer “extended replacement cost” add-ons (“endorsements”) which provide extra coverage if the limit is reached.[2]

Prices may be lower if the house is situated next to a fire station or is equipped with fire sprinklers and fire alarms; if the house exhibits wind mitigation measures, such as hurricane shutters; or if the house has a security system and has insurer-approved locks installed.

Typically payment is made annually. Perpetual insurance which continues indefinitely can also be obtained in certain areas.

Covered perils

Home insurance offers coverage on a “named perils” and “open perils” basis. A “named perils” policy is one that provides coverage for a loss specifically listed on the policy; if it’s not listed, then it’s not covered. An “open perils” policy is broader in the sense that it will provide coverage for all losses except those specifically excluded on your policy.

Basic “named perils”[4] – this is the least comprehensive of the three coverage options. It provides protection against perils most likely to result in a total loss. If something happens to your home that’s not on the list below, you are not covered. This type of policy is most common in countries with developing insurance markets and as protection for vacant or unoccupied buildings.

Basic-form covered perils:

Windstorm or hail
Aircraft or vehicle collision
Riot or civil commotion

Broad “named perils”[5] – this form expands on the “basic form” by adding 6 more covered perils. Again, this is a “named perils” policy. The loss must specifically be listed to receive coverage. Fortunately, the “broad form” is designed to cover the most common forms of property damage.

Broad-form covered perils:

All basic-form perils
Burglary, break-in damage
Falling objects (e.g. tree limbs)
Weight of ice and snow
Freezing of plumbing
Accidental water damage
Artificially generated electricity

Special “all risk”[6] – special-form coverage is the most inclusive of the three options. The difference with “special form” policies is that they provide coverage to all losses unless specifically excluded. Unlike the prior forms, all unlisted perils are covered perils. However, if something happens to your home, and the event is on the exclusions list, the policy will not provide coverage.

Special-form excluded perils:

Ordinance of law
Power failure
Nuclear hazard
Intentional acts

In the United States

In the United States, most home buyers borrow money in the form of a mortgage loan, and the mortgage lender often requires that the buyer purchases homeowner’s insurance as a condition of the loan, in order to protect the bank if the home is destroyed. Anyone with an insurable interest in the property should be listed on the policy. In some cases the mortgagee will waive the need for the mortgagor to carry homeowner’s insurance if the value of the land exceeds the amount of the mortgage balance. In such a case even the total destruction of any buildings would not affect the ability of the lender to be able to foreclose and recover the full amount of the loan.

Home insurance in the United States may differ from other countries; for example, in Britain, subsidence and subsequent foundation failure is usually covered under an insurance policy. United States insurance companies used to offer foundation insurance, which was reduced to coverage for damage due to leaks, and finally eliminated altogether.[8] The insurance is often misunderstood by its purchasers; for example, many believe that mold is covered when it is not a standard coverage.

The first homeowner’s policy per se in the United States was introduced in September 1950, but similar policies had already existed in Great Britain and certain areas of the United States. In the late 1940s, US insurance law was reformed and during this process multiple line statutes were written, allowing homeowner’s policies to become legal.

Prior to the 1950s there were separate policies for the various perils that could affect a home. A homeowner would have had to purchase separate policies covering fire losses, theft, personal property, and the like. During the 1950s policy forms were developed allowing the homeowner to purchase all the insurance they needed on one complete policy. However, these policies varied by insurance company, and were difficult to comprehend.

The need for standardization grew so great that a private company based in Jersey City, New Jersey, Insurance Services Office, also known as the ISO, was formed in 1971 to provide risk information and it issued simplified homeowner’s policy forms for reselling to insurance companies. These policies have been amended over the years.

Modern developments have changed the insurance coverage terms, availability, and pricing.[2] Homeowner’s insurance has been relatively unprofitable, due in part to catastrophes such as hurricanes as well as regulators’ reluctance to authorize price increases. Coverages have been reduced instead and companies have diverged from the former standardized model ISO forms.[2] Water damage due to burst pipes in particular has been restricted or in some cases entirely eliminated.[2] Other restrictions included time limits, complex replacement cost calculations (which may not reflect the true cost to replace), and reductions in wind damage coverage.


Homeowner’s insurance was first introduced in the 1950s. Today, most homeowner’s insurance policies are based on forms developed by the Insurance Services Office (ISO) and the American Association of Insurance Services (AAIS).

Policy Form Structural Coverage[13] Property Coverage[13]
HO1 – Basic Minimal Minimal
HO2 – Broad Broad “named perils” Broad “named perils”
HO3 – Special Special “open risks” Broad “named perils”
HO4 – Tenants No coverage Broad “named perils”
HO6 – Condominium Varies Broad “named perils”
HO0 – Dwelling Fire Form

A form that provides coverage on a home against fire, smoke, windstorm, hail, lightning, explosion, vehicles, and civil unrest. It does not cover the assured’s personal property, personal liability, or medical expenses. It is the type of policy a mortgage lender will buy for a borrower if the latter’s homeowner policy lapses.

HO1 – Basic Form

A basic policy form that provides coverage on a home against 11 listed perils; contents are generally included in this type of coverage, but must be explicitly enumerated. The perils include fire or lightning, windstorm or hail, vandalism or malicious mischief, theft, damage from vehicles and aircraft, explosion, riot or civil commotion, glass breakage, smoke, volcanic eruption, and personal liability. Exceptions include floods, earthquakes. Most states no longer offer this type of coverage.

HO2 – Broad Form

A more advanced form that provides coverage on a home against 16 listed perils (including all 11 on the HO1). The coverage is usually a “named perils” policy, which lists the events that would be covered.

HO3 – Special Form

The typical, most comprehensive form used for single-family homes. The policy provides “all risk” coverage on the home with some perils excluded, such as earthquake and flood. Contents are covered on a named-peril basis. (Note: “all risk” is poorly termed as it is essentially named exclusions (i.e., if it is not specifically excluded, it is covered).)

HO4 – Contents Broad Form

The Contents Broad, or Tenants, form is for renters. It covers personal property against the same perils as the contents portion of the HO2 or HO3.[14] An HO4 generally also includes liability coverage for personal injury or property damage inflicted on others.

HO5 – Comprehensive Form

Covers the same as HO3 plus more. On this policy the contents are covered on an open peril basis, therefore as long as the cause of loss is not specifically excluded in the policy it will be covered for that cause of loss.

HO6 – Unit-Owners Form

The form for condominium owners. It insures personal property, walls, floors and ceiling against all of the perils in the Broad Form. The rest of the condo is covered by a separate policy purchased by the association.

HO8 – Modified Coverage Form

The form is for the owner-occupied older home whose replacement cost far exceeds the property’s market value.

Coverage rates

According to a 2015 National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) report on data from 2012, 76.8% of homes were covered by owner-occupied homeowners’ policies. Of these, 62.9% had the HO3 Special, and 9.4% had the more expensive HO5 Comprehensive. Both of these policies are “all risks” or “open perils”, meaning that they cover all perils except those specifically excluded. 2.7% were the HO2 Broad, which covers only specific named perils. Others, at about 1% each, include the HO1 Basic and the HO8 Modified, which is the most limited in its coverage. HO8, also known as older home insurance, is likely to pay only actual cash value for damages rather than replacement.[15]

The remaining 21.3% of home insurance policies were covered by renter’s or condominium insurance. 14.8% of these had the HO-4 Contents Broad form, also known as renters’ insurance, which covers the contents of an apartment not specifically covered in the blanket policy written for the complex.[15] This policy can also cover liability arising from injury to guests as well as negligence of the renter within the coverage territory. Common coverage areas are events such as lightning, riot, aircraft, explosion, vandalism, smoke, theft, windstorm or hail, falling objects, volcanic eruption, snow, sleet, and weight of ice. The remainder had the HO-6 Unit-Owners policy, also known as a condominium insurance, which is designed for the owners of condos and includes coverage for the part of the building owned by the insured and for the property housed therein. Designed to span the gap between the coverage provided by the blanket policy written for the entire neighborhood or building and the personal property inside the home. The condominium association’s by-laws may determine the total amount of insurance necessary. E.g., in Florida, the scope of coverage is prescribed by statute – 718.111(11)(f).[16]

In addition, about 1.9% of homes were covered by a dwelling fire policy[15] (the term dwelling fire comes from the fact that, originally, these home owner’s policies only covered fires) which covers property damage to a structure and is typically sold to noncommercial owners of rented houses. It may also cover the owner’s personal property (such as appliances and furnishings). The owner’s liability may be extended from their own primary home insurance and, thus, may not comprise part of the Dwelling Fire policy.

It should be noted that not all states allow the ISO forms to be utilized or may require that additional clauses are included to meet state insurance regulations.

Typically consumers can save money by purchasing their insurance directly from a company rather than through an agent, but there are not many companies selling home insurance directly.[17] However, an experienced agent can provide expertise (especially expertise with the local insurance environment) that a company may lack.[18]
Coverage classifications

While coverage limits can vary, there are 6 core coverage components make up a standard policy in the United States. These are based on standard Insurance Services Office or American Association of Insurance Services forms.
Coverage Component[19] Typical Limit of Coverage[19]
Coverage A – Dwelling Policyholder chooses
Coverage B – Other structures 10% of Dwelling coverage limit
Coverage C – Personal property 50% of Dwelling coverage limit
Coverage D – Loss of use 20% of Dwelling coverage limit
Coverage E – Personal liability Policyholder chooses
Coverage F – Medical payments Policyholder chooses

Section I — Property Coverage

Coverage A – Dwelling
Covers the value of the dwelling itself (not including the land). Typically, a coinsurance clause states that as long as the dwelling is insured to 80% of actual value, losses will be adjusted at replacement cost, up to the policy limits. This is in place to give a buffer against inflation. HO-4 (renter’s insurance) typically has no Coverage A, although it has additional coverages for improvements.

Coverage B – Other Structures
Covers other structures around the property that are not used for business, except as a private garage. Typically limited at 10% to 20% of the Coverage A, with additional amounts available by endorsement.

Coverage C – Personal Property
Covers personal property, with limits for the theft and loss of particular classes of items (e.g., $200 for money, banknotes, bullion, coins, medals, etc.). Typically 50–70% of Coverage A is required for contents, which means that consumers may pay for much more insurance than necessary. This has led to some calls for more choice.[20] There are two types of policies for personal property: cash value policy and replacement cost policy. Cash value policy will pay the cost to replace belongings, minus deprecation. Replacement cost policy will reimburse the assured for the full, current cost of replacing belongings.[21]

Coverage D – Loss of Use/Additional Living Expenses
Covers expenses associated with additional living expenses (i.e. rental expenses) and fair rental value, if part of the residence was rented, however only the rental income for the actual rent of the space not services provided such as utilities.

Section II — Liability Coverage

Coverage E – Personal Liability
Covers damages which the insured is legally liable for and provides a legal defense at the insurer’s own expense. About a third of the losses for this coverage are from dog bites.[22]

Coverage F – Medical Payments
Designed to pay for medical expenses to others who are accidentally injured on an insured location or by the activities of an insured, resident employee, or an animal owned by or in the care of an insured. These payments are not based on the law of negligence; that is, no negligence on the part of the insured has to be proven for payment to be made.[23]

Section III — Additional Coverage Options

Flood Insurance
Flood damage is typically excluded under standard homeowners’ and renters’ insurance policies. Flood coverage, however, is available in the form of a separate policy both from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and from a few private insurers.[24]

Earthquake Coverage
Earth movement is a common exclusion for home insurance policies around the world. A separate policy, rider, or endorsement must usually be purchased in order for this peril to be covered. Because of the catastrophic nature of this risk, earthquake related coverage is typically back by some form of government organization or specialized organization to assist with claims payout and regulation.[25]

Additional Coverages
Includes a variety of expenses such as debris removal, reasonable repairs, damage to trees and shrubs for certain named perils (excluding the most common causes of damage, wind and ice), fire department charges, removal of property, credit card / identity theft charges, loss assessment, collapse, landlord’s furnishing, and some building additions. These vary depending upon the form.

Section IIII — Exclusions

In an open perils policy, specific exclusions will be stated in this section. These generally include earth movement, water damage, power failure, neglect, war, nuclear hazard, septic tank back-up expenses, intentional loss, and concurrent causation (for HO3).[26] The concurrent causation exclusion excludes losses where both a covered and an excluded loss occur. In addition, the exclusion for building ordinance can mean that increased expenses due to local ordinances may not be covered.[27] A 2013 survey of Americans found that 41% believed mold was covered, although it is typically not covered if the water damage occurs over a period of time, such as through a leaky pipe.[28]
Causes of loss

According to the 2008 Insurance Information Institute factbook, for every $100 of premium, in 2005 on average $16 went to fire and lightning, $30 to wind and hail, $11 to water damage and freezing, $4 for other causes, and $2 for theft. An additional $3 went to liability and medical payments and $9 for claims settlement expenses, and the remaining $25 was allocated to insurer expenses.[29] One study of fires found that most were caused by heating incidents, although smoking was a risk factor for fatal fires.[30]
Claims process

After a loss, the insured is expected to take steps to mitigate the loss. Insurance policies typically require that the insurer be notified within a reasonable time period. After that, a claims adjuster will investigate the claim and the insured may be required to provide various information.

Filing a claim may result in an increase in rates, or in nonrenewal or cancellation. In addition, insurers may share the claim data in an industry database (the two major ones are CLUE and A-PLUS[31]), with Claim Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE) by Choicepoint receiving data from 98% of U.S. insurers.[32]
In the United Kingdom

As in the US, mortgage lenders within the United Kingdom (UK) require the rebuild value (the actual cost of rebuilding a property to its current state should it be damaged or destroyed) of a property to be covered as a condition of the loan. However, the rebuild cost is often lower than the market value of the property, as the market value often reflects the property as a going concern, as opposed to just the value of the bricks and mortar.

A number of factors, such as an increase in fraud and increasingly unpredictable weather, have seen home insurance premiums continue to rise in the UK.[33] For this reason, there has been a shift in how home insurance is bought in the UK—as customers become a lot more price-sensitive, there has been a large increase in the amount of policies sold through price comparison sites.

In addition to standard home insurance, some 8 million households in the UK are categorized as being a “non standard” risk. These households would require a Specialist or Non Standard insurer that would cover home insurance needs for people that have criminal convictions and/or where the property suffers subsidence or has previously been underpinned.
Around the world

Premium volume by country (2013)
World rank[34] Country Region Premium volume (2013, USD Mil):[34]
1 United States Americas 1,259,255
2 Japan Asia 531,506
3 United Kingdom Europe 329,643
4 China Asia 277,965
5 France Europe 254,754
6 Germany Europe 247,162
7 Italy Europe 168,544
8 South Korea Asia 145,427
9 Canada Americas 125,344
10 Netherlands Europe 101,140

Building and contents coverage

Countries such as China, Australia, and the United Kingdom use a more straight forward approach to home insurance, called “building and contents coverage” commonly referred to as “home and contents insurance”. Relative to the insurance policies of the United States, building and contents coverage offers a very basic level of coverage. Most standard policies only cover the most basic perils listed below:

Storm or flood
Lightning or explosion
Falling trees or branches
Subsidence, drag or landslip
Breakage of glass or sanitary fittings
Damage from escaped water or oil
Shock caused to the house by animals, vehicles or aircraft

Building coverage

Building covers both the primary structure as well as detached structures such as garages, sheds, and back houses that are on property. However, different insurers may not cover things like boundary walls, fences, gates, paths, drives or swimming pools, so it is important to check the specific policy language.[35] This is an equivalent of both Coverage A and B in homeowners insurance policies in the United States.

Contents coverage

Contents insurance covers just about everything that would fall out of your home if you turned it upside down. This include your furniture, clothes, electronics, jewelry, etc. Most polices limit the individual amount of money paid out for each category of items.[36] Individual polices can vary in the amount of coverage they provide. The option to schedule your personal property is readily available.

Liability coverage

Liability is typically bundled together with building and contents coverage. Injuries and damage on premises would be covered by building coverage liability while any offsite occurrences would be covered under contents coverage.[35]

Common exclusions

As with most insurance policies, there are always exclusions. The most common are:[35]

General wear and tear maintenance
Faulty workmanship
Mechanical or electrical breakdown
Any amount over the limits shown on your policy schedule or in your policy
Restricted cover when the home is empty or is let to tenants


Property insurance

Property insurance provides protection against most risks to property, such as fire, theft and some weather damage. This includes specialized forms of insurance such as fire insurance, flood insurance, earthquake insurance, home insurance, or boiler insurance. Property is insured in two main ways—open perils and named perils.

Open perils cover all the causes of loss not specifically excluded in the policy. Common exclusions on open peril policies include damage resulting from earthquakes, floods, nuclear incidents, acts of terrorism, and war. Named perils require the actual cause of loss to be listed in the policy for insurance to be provided. The more common named perils include such damage-causing events as fire, lightning, explosion, and theft.


Property insurance can be traced to the Great Fire of London, which in 1666 devoured more than 13,000 houses. The devastating effects of the fire converted the development of insurance “from a matter of convenience into one of urgency, a change of opinion reflected in Sir Christopher Wren’s inclusion of a site for ‘the Insurance Office’ in his new plan for London in 1667”. A number of attempted fire insurance schemes came to nothing, but in 1681, economist Nicholas Barbon and eleven associates established the first fire insurance company, the “Insurance Office for Houses”, at the back of the Royal Exchange to insure brick and frame homes. Initially, 5,000 homes were insured by Barbon’s Insurance Office.

In the wake of this first successful venture, many similar companies were founded in the following decades. Initially, each company employed its own fire department to prevent and minimise the damage from conflagrations on properties insured by them. They also began to issue ‘Fire insurance marks’ to their customers; these would be displayed prominently above the main door to the property in order to aid positive identification. One such notable company was the Hand in Hand Fire & Life Insurance Society, founded in 1696 at Tom’s Coffee House in St. Martin’s Lane in London.

The first property insurance company still extant was founded in 1710 as the ‘Sun Fire Office’ now, through many mergers and acquisitions, the RSA Insurance Group.

In Colonial America, Benjamin Franklin helped to popularize and make standard the practice of insurance, particularly Property insurance to spread the risk of loss from fire, in the form of perpetual insurance. In 1752, he founded the Philadelphia Contributionship for the Insurance of Houses from Loss by Fire. Franklin’s company refused to insure certain buildings, such as wooden houses, where the risk of fire was too great.

Types of Coverage

There are three types of insurance coverage. Replacement cost coverage pays the cost of repairing or replacing your property with like kind & quality regardless of depreciation or appreciation. Premiums for this type of coverage are based on replacement cost values, and not based on actual cash value. Actual cash value coverage provides for replacement cost minus depreciation. Extended replacement cost will pay over the coverage limit if the costs for construction have increased. This generally will not exceed 25% of the limit. When you obtain an insurance policy, the limit is the maximum amount of benefit the insurance company will pay for a given situation or occurrence. Limits also include the ages below or above what an insurance company will not issue a new policy or continue a policy.

This amount will need to fluctuate if the cost to replace homes in your neighborhood is rising; the amount needs to be in step with the actual reconstruction value of your home. In case of a fire, household content replacement is tabulated as a percentage of the value of the home. In case of high-value items, the insurance company may ask to specifically cover these items separate from the other household contents. One last coverage option is to have alternative living arrangements included in a policy. If property damage caused by a covered loss prevents you from living in your home, policies can pay the expenses of alternate living arrangements (e.g., hotels and restaurant costs) for a specified period of time to compensate for the “loss of use” of your home until you can return. The additional living expenses limit can vary, but is typically set at up to 20% of the dwelling coverage limit. You need to talk with your insurance company for advice about appropriate coverage and determine what type of limit may be appropriate for you.


Auto insurance risk selection

Auto insurance risk selection is the process by which vehicle insurers determine whether or not to insure an individual and what insurance premium to charge. Depending on the jurisdiction, the insurance premium can be either mandated by the government or determined by the insurance company in accordance to a framework of regulations set by the government. Often, the insurer will have more freedom to set the price on physical damage coverages than on mandatory liability coverages.

When the premium is not mandated by the government, it is usually derived from the calculations of an actuary based on statistical data. The premium can vary depending on many factors that are believed to affect the expected cost of future claims. Those factors can include the car characteristics, the coverage selected (deductible, limit, covered perils), the profile of the driver (age, gender, driving history) and the usage of the car (commute to work or not, predicted annual distance driven).

Conventional methods for determining costs of motor vehicle insurance involve gathering relevant historical data from a personal interview with, or a written application completed by, the applicant for the insurance and by referencing the applicant’s public motor vehicle driving record that is maintained by a governmental agency, such as a Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Such data results in a classification of the applicant to a broad actuarial class for which insurance rates are assigned based upon the empirical experience of the insurer. Many factors are deemed relevant to such classification in a particular actuarial class or risk level, such as age, sex, marital status, location of residence and driving record.

The current system of insurance creates groupings of vehicles and drivers (actuarial classes) based on the following types of classifications.

Vehicle: Age; manufacturer, model; and value.
Driver: Age; sex; marital status; driving record (based on government reports), violations (citations); at fault accidents; and place of residence.
Coverage: Types of losses covered, liability, uninsured or underinsured motorist, comprehensive, and collision; liability limits; and deductibles.

The classifications, such as age, are further broken into actuarial classes, such as 21- to 24-year-olds, to develop a unique vehicle insurance cost based on the specific combination of attributes for a particular risk. For example, the following information would produce a unique vehicle insurance cost:

Vehicle: Age – 7 years old; manufacturer, model – Ford, Explorer XLT; value $18,000
Driver: Age – 38 years old; gender – male; marital status – single; driving record (based on government reports) violations – 1 point (speeding); at fault accidents – 3 points (one at fault accident); place of residence 33619 (zip code)
Coverage: Types of losses covered; liability – yes; uninsured or underinsured – no; motorist comprehensive – yes; collision – yes; liability limits – $100,000/$300,000/$50,000; deductibles – $500/$500.

A change to any of this information might result in a different premium being charged if the change resulted in a different actuarial class or risk level for that variable. For instance, a change in the drivers’ age from 38 to 39 may not result in a different actuarial class because 38- and 39-year-old people may be in the same actuarial class. However, a change in driver age from 38 to 45 may result in a different premium because the records of the insurer indicate a difference in risk associated with those ages and, therefore, the age difference results in a change in actuarial class or assigned risk level.

Current insurance rating systems also provide discounts and surcharges for some types of use of the vehicle, equipment on the vehicle and type of driver. Common surcharges and discounts include:

Surcharges: Business use.
Discounts: Safety equipment on the vehicle airbags, and antilock brakes; theft control devices passive systems (e.g. The Club), and alarm system; and driver type – good student, and safe driver (accident free); group – senior drivers fleet drivers .


Vehicle insurance in the United States

Vehicle insurance, in the United States and elsewhere, is designed to cover risk of financial liability or the loss of a motor vehicle the owner may face if their vehicle is involved in a collision resulting in property or physical damages. Most states require a motor vehicle owner to carry some minimum level of liability insurance. States that do not require the vehicle owner to carry car insurance include Virginia, where an uninsured motor vehicle fee may be paid to the state; New Hampshire, and Mississippi which offers vehicle owners the option to post cash bonds (see below). The privileges and immunities clause of Article IV of the U.S. Constitution protects the rights of citizens in each respective state when traveling to another. A motor vehicle owner typically pays insurers a monthly fee, often called an insurance premium. The insurance premium a motor vehicle owner pays is usually determined by a variety of factors including the type of covered vehicle, the age and gender of any covered drivers, their driving history, and the location where the vehicle is primarily driven and stored. Credit scores are also taken into consideration. Most insurance companies offer premium discounts based on these factors.

Insurance companies provide a motor vehicle owner with an insurance card for the particular coverage term which is to be kept in the vehicle in the event of a traffic collision as proof of insurance. Recently, states have started passing laws that electronic versions of proof of insurance can now be accepted by the authorities.

Coverage generally

Consumers may be protected by different levels of coverage depending on which insurance policy they purchase. Coverage is sometimes seen as 20/40/15 or 100/300/100. The first two numbers seen are for medical coverage. In the 100/300 example, the policy will pay $100,000 per person up to $300,000 total for all people. The last number covers property damage. This property damage can cover the other person’s vehicle or anything that you hit and damage as a result of the accident. In some states you must purchase Personal Injury Protection which covers medical bills, time lost at work, and many other things. You can also purchase insurance if the other driver does not have insurance or is under insured. Most if not all states require drivers to carry mandatory liability insurance coverage to ensure that their drivers can cover the cost of damage to other people or property in the event of an accident. Some states, such as Wisconsin, have more flexible “proof of financial responsibility” requirements.

Insurance providers

In the United States in 2015, the largest vehicle insurance providers, in terms of market share, were State Farm Insurance, Liberty Mutual Insurance, Allstate, Berkshire Hathaway (which operates as Geico), and The Travelers Companies.[2] Insurance is secured either by working with an independent insurance agent or with an insurance broker who is authorized to sell insurance policies. Some can represent from several agencies, like Guy Carpenter & Company or a growing number of online brokers who provide policy purchases through sites like and Walmart.

Liability coverage
For more details on this topic, see Liability insurance.

Liability coverage, sometimes known as Casualty insurance, is offered for bodily injury (BI) or property damage (PD) for which the insured driver is deemed responsible. The amount of coverage provided (a fixed dollar amount) will vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Whatever the minimum, the insured can usually increase the coverage (prior to a loss) for an additional charge.

An example of property damage is where an insured driver (or 1st party) drives into a telephone pole and damages the pole; liability coverage pays for the damage to the pole. In this example, the drivers insured may also become liable for other expenses related to damaging the telephone pole, such as loss of service claims (by the telephone company), depending on the jurisdiction. An example of bodily injury is where an insured driver causes bodily harm to a third party and the insured driver is deemed responsible for the injuries. However, in some jurisdictions, the third party would first exhaust coverage for accident benefits through their own insurer (assuming they have one) and/or would have to meet a legal definition of severe impairment to have the right to claim (or sue) under the insured driver’s (or first party’s) policy. If the third party sues the insured driver, liability coverage also covers court costs and damages that the insured driver may be deemed responsible for.

In some states, such as New Jersey, it is illegal to operate (or knowingly allow another to operate) a motor vehicle that does not have liability insurance coverage. If an accident occurs in a state that requires liability coverage, both parties are usually required to bring and/or submit copies of insurance cards to court as proof of liability coverage.

In some jurisdictions: Liability coverage is available either as a combined single limit policy, or as a split limit policy:

Combined single limit

A combined single limit combines property damage liability coverage and bodily injury coverage under one single combined limit. For example, an insured driver with a combined single liability limit strikes another vehicle and injures the driver and the passenger. Payments for the damages to the other driver’s car, as well as payments for injury claims for the driver and passenger, would be paid out under this same coverage.
Split limits

A split limit liability coverage policy splits the coverages into property damage coverage and bodily injury coverage. In the example given above, payments for the other driver’s vehicle would be paid out under property damage coverage, and payments for the injuries would be paid out under bodily injury coverage.

Bodily injury liability coverage is also usually split into a maximum payment per person and a maximum payment per accident.

The limits are often expressed separated by slashes in the following form: “bodily injury per person”/”bodily injury per accident”/”property damage”. For example, California requires this minimum coverage:[4]

$15,000 for injury/death to one person
$30,000 for injury/death to more than one person
$5,000 for damage to property

This would be expressed as “$15,000/$30,000/$5,000”.

Another example, in the state of Oklahoma, drivers must carry at least state minimum liability limits of $25,000/$50,000/$25,000.[5] If an insured driver hits a car full of people and is found by the insurance company to be liable, the insurance company will pay $25,000 of one person’s medical bills but will not exceed $50,000 for other people injured in the accident. The insurance company will not pay more than $25,000 for property damage in repairs to the vehicle that the insured one hit.

In the state of Indiana, the minimum liability limits are $25,000/$50,000/$10,000,[6] so there is a greater property damage exposure for only carrying the minimum limits.

Rental coverage

Generally, liability coverage purchased through a private insurer extends to rental cars. Comprehensive policies (“full coverage”) usually also apply to the rental vehicle, although this should be verified beforehand. Full coverage premiums are based on, among other factors, the value of the insured’s vehicle. This coverage, however, cannot apply to rental cars because the insurance company does not want to assume responsibility for a claim greater than the value of the insured’s vehicle, assuming that a rental car may be worth more than the insured’s vehicle.

Most rental car companies offer insurance to cover damage to the rental vehicle. These policies may be unnecessary for many customers as credit card companies, such as Visa and MasterCard, now provide supplemental collision damage coverage to rental cars if the rental transaction is processed using one of their cards. These benefits are restrictive in terms of the types of vehicles covered.

Maine requires car insurance to rent a car.

Full coverage

Full coverage is the term commonly used to refer to the combination of comprehensive and collision coverages (liability is generally also implied.) The term full coverage is actually a misnomer because, even within traditional full coverage insurance, there are many different types of coverage, and many optional amounts of each. “Full coverage” is a layman’s misnomer that often results in drivers and vehicle owners being woefully underinsured. Most responsible insurance agents or brokers do not use this term when working with their clients.

One common misconception in the United States is that vehicles that are financed on credit through a bank or credit union are required to have “full” coverage in order for the financial institution to cover their losses in case of an accident. Insurance requirements vary between financial institutions and each state. Minimum deductibles and liability limits (required by some leasing companies) would be outlined in the loan contract. Failure to carry the required coverages may lead to the lienholder purchasing insurance and adding the cost to the monthly payments or repossession of the vehicle. Vehicles purchased with cash or paid off by the owner are generally required to only carry liability. In some cases, vehicles financed through a “buy-here-pay-here” car dealership—in which the consumer (generally those with poor credit) finances a car and pays the dealer directly without a bank—may require comprehensive and collision depending on the amount owed for the vehicle.


Collision coverage provides coverage for vehicles involved in collisions. Collision coverage is subject to a deductible. This coverage is designed to provide payments to repair the damaged vehicle, or payment of the cash value of the vehicle if it is not repairable or totaled. Collision coverage is optional, however if you plan on financing a car or taking a car loan, the lender will usually insist you carry collision for the finance term or until the car is paid off. Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) or Loss Damage Waiver (LDW) is the term used by rental car companies for collision coverage.


Comprehensive, also known as other than collision coverage, provides coverage, subject to a deductible, for cars damaged by incidents that are not considered collisions. For example, fire, theft (or attempted theft), vandalism, weather, or impacts with animals are types of comprehensive losses.

Additionally, the majority of insurance companies list “Acts of God” as an aspect of comprehensive coverage. By definition, it includes any events or occurrences that are beyond human control. For example, a tornado, flood, hurricane, or hail storm would fall under this category.

Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage

Uninsured/Underinsured coverage, also known as UM/UIM, provides coverage if an at-fault party either does not have insurance, or does not have enough insurance. In effect, the insurance company pays the insured medical bills, then would subrogate from the at fault party. This coverage is often overlooked and very important. In Colorado, for example, it was estimated in 2009 that 15% of drivers were uninsured. Usually the limits match the liability limits.[citation needed] Some insurance companies do offer UM/UIM in an umbrella policy.

Some states maintain unsatisfied judgment funds to provide compensation to those who cannot collect damages from uninsured driver.[9] Typically, the payout is not more than the minimum liability limits and the negligent driver remains responsible for reimbursing the state’s fund.

In the United States, the definition of an uninsured/underinsured motorist, and corresponding coverages, are set by state laws. In some states it is mandatory. In the case of underinsured coverage, two different triggers apply: a damages trigger which is based on whether the limits are insufficient to cover the injured party’s damages, and a limits trigger which applies when the limits are less than the injured party’s limits.[10] According to a 2009 survey by trade association Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, 29 states have a limits trigger while 20 states have a damages trigger.[11] Another variation is whether a particular state requires stacking of policy limits of different vehicles or policies.

Loss of use

Loss of use coverage, also known as rental coverage, provides reimbursement for rental expenses associated with having an insured vehicle repaired due to a covered loss.
Loan/lease payoff

Loan/lease payoff coverage, also known as GAP coverage or GAP insurance, was established in the early 1980s to provide protection to consumers based upon buying and market trends.

Due to the sharp decline in value immediately following purchase, there is generally a period in which the amount owed on the car loan exceeds the value of the vehicle, which is called “upside-down” or negative equity. Thus, if the vehicle is damaged beyond economical repair at this point, the owner will still owe potentially thousands of dollars on the loan. The escalating price of cars, longer-term auto loans, and the increasing popularity of leasing gave birth to GAP protection. GAP waivers provide protection for consumers when a “gap” exists between the actual value of their vehicle and the amount of money owed to the bank or leasing company. In many instances, this insurance will also pay the deductible on the primary insurance policy. These policies are often offered at auto dealerships as a comparatively low cost add-on to the car loan that provides coverage for the duration of the loan. GAP Insurance does not always pay off the full loan value however. These cases include but are not limited to:

Any unpaid delinquent payments due at the time of loss
Payment deferrals or extensions (commonly called skips or skip a payment)
Refinancing of the vehicle loan after the policy was purchased
Late fees or other administrative fees assessed after loan commencement

Therefore, it is important for a policy holder to understand that they may still owe on the loan even though the GAP policy was purchased. Failure to understand this can result in the lender continuing their legal remedies to collect the balance and the potential of damaged credit.

Consumers should be aware that a few states, including New York, require lenders of leased cars to include GAP insurance within the cost of the lease itself. This means that the monthly price quoted by the dealer must include GAP insurance, whether it is delineated or not. Nevertheless, unscrupulous dealers sometimes prey on unsuspecting individuals by offering them GAP insurance at an additional price, on top of the monthly payment, without mentioning the State’s requirements.

In addition, some vendors and insurance companies offer what is called “Total Loss Coverage.” This is similar to ordinary GAP insurance but differs in that instead of paying off the negative equity on a vehicle that is a total loss, the policy provides a certain amount, usually up to $5000, toward the purchase or lease of a new vehicle. Thus, to some extent the distinction makes no difference, i.e., in either case the owner receives a certain sum of money. However, in choosing which type of policy to purchase, the owner should consider whether, in case of a total loss, it is more advantageous for him or her to have the policy pay off the negative equity or provide a down payment on a new vehicle.

For example, assuming a total loss of a vehicle valued at $15,000, but on which the owner owes $20,000, is the “gap” of $5000. If the owner has traditional GAP coverage, the “gap” will be wiped out and he or she may purchase or lease another vehicle or choose not to. If the owner has “Total Loss Coverage,” he or she will have to personally cover the “gap” of $5000, and then receive $5000 toward the purchase or lease of a new vehicle, thereby either reducing monthly payments, in the case of financing or leasing, or the total purchase price in the case of outright purchasing. So the decision on which type of policy to purchase will, in most instances, be informed by whether the owner can pay off the negative equity in case of a total loss and/or whether he or she will definitively purchase a replacement vehicle.

Vehicle towing coverage is also known as roadside assistance coverage. Traditionally, automobile insurance companies have agreed to only pay for the cost of a tow that is related to an accident that is covered under the automobile policy of insurance. This had left a gap in coverage for tows that are related to mechanical breakdowns, flat tires and gas outages. To fill that void, insurance companies started to offer the car towing coverage, which pays for non-accident related tows.
Personal property

Personal items in a vehicle that are damaged due to an accident typically are not covered under the auto insurance policy. Any type of property that is not attached to the vehicle should be claimed under a home insurance or renters’ insurance policy. However, some insurance companies will cover unattached GPS devices intended for automobile use.[citation needed]

Rating plans
Main article: Auto insurance risk selection

Insurers use actuarial science to determine the rates, which involves statistical analysis of the various characteristics of drivers.

In the United States, automotive insurance covering liability for injuries and property damage is compulsory in most states, but different states enforce the insurance requirement differently. In Virginia, where insurance is not compulsory, residents must pay the state a $500 annual fee per vehicle if they choose not to buy liability insurance.[14] Penalties for not purchasing insurance vary by state, but often include a substantial fine, license and/or registration suspension or revocation, and possible jail time. Usually, the minimum required by law is third party insurance to protect third parties against the financial consequences of loss, damage or injury caused by a vehicle.

California and New Jersey have enacted “Personal Responsibility Acts” which put further pressure on all drivers to carry liability insurance by preventing uninsured drivers from recovering non economic damages (e.g. compensation for “pain and suffering”) if they are injured in any way while operating a motor vehicle.

North Carolina is the only state to require that a driver hold liability insurance before a license can be issued. North Carolina does allow for a “fleet license” to be issued if the license holder has no insurance, however the fleet license only allows for the driver to operate vehicles owned and insured by their employer. The license holder must produce a state form (DL-123) to prove they have insurance, requiring the signature of an insurance agent, in addition to a ten dollar fee, in order to convert the fleet license to a full license.

Some states require that proof of insurance be carried in the car at all times, while others do not. For example, North Carolina does not specify that proof of insurance must be carried in the vehicle; it does, however, require that a driver have that information to trade with another driver in the event of an accident. Some states allow for an electronic insurance card to be produced on a smartphone

Arizona Department of Transportation Research Project Manager John Semmens has recommended that car insurers issue license plates and be held responsible for the full cost of injuries and property damage caused by their licensees under the Disneyland model. Plates would expire at the end of the insurance coverage period, and licensees would need to return their plates to their insurance office to receive a refund on their premiums. Vehicles driving without insurance would thus be easy to spot because they would not have license plates, or the plates would be past the marked expiration date.

The compulsory insurance debate
A brief history of car insurance

With the invention of the automobile in the late 19th century came the inevitable side effect of automobile collisions.[16] As automotive collisions increased in frequency, it became clear that, unlike other torts, which relied on personal responsibility, there was a possibility that automobiles would need to be governed by laws because “[t]here was no way of assuring that even though fault was assessed the victim of an automobile collision would be able to collect from the tortfeasor.”

This led Massachusetts and Connecticut to create the first financial responsibility and compulsory insurance laws. Connecticut’s 1925 financial responsibility law required any vehicle owner involved in a collision with damages over $100 to prove “financial responsibility to satisfy any claim for damages, by reason of personal injury, to, or death of, any person, of at least $10,000.”[17] This early financial responsibility requirement only required vehicle owners to prove financial responsibility after their first collision.[16] Massachusetts also introduced a law to address the problem of collisions, but theirs was a compulsory insurance, not financial responsibility law. It required automotive liability insurance as a prerequisite to vehicle registration.

Until 1956, when the New York legislature passed their compulsory insurance law, Massachusetts was the only state in the U.S. that required drivers to get insurance before registration. North Carolina followed suit in 1957 and then in the 1960s and 1970s numerous other states passed similar compulsory insurance laws. Since the genesis of automotive insurance schemes in 1925 nearly every state has adopted a compulsory insurance scheme.
Arguments in favor of compulsory auto insurance

Advocates of compulsory auto insurance rely on the assumption that, at least some of the time, the person at fault in a car accident won’t be able to pay for the damage to the other person’s car. Because insurance has been mandatory in most states for so long, the data to prove this theory is somewhat sparse. Nevertheless, proponents of compulsory auto insurance argue that:

There is a risk of nonpayment in car accidents and compulsory auto insurance is the best way to deal with this risk.
Personal financial responsibility laws are inadequate to remedy the risk of nonpaying, at-fault, drivers.
The best way to ensure that at-fault drivers will pay for damage they cause is to require insurance before registration, and to penalize drivers if they fail to meet this requirement.

Arguments against compulsory auto insurance

Opponents of compulsory insurance believe that it is not the best way to allocate risk among drivers. New Hampshire and Virginia do not require motor vehicle insurance. In New Hampshire vehicle owners must satisfy a personal responsibility requirement; instead of paying monthly premiums, and prove that they are capable of paying in case of an accident. In Virginia vehicle owners may pay an uninsured motorist fee. In Mississippi vehicle owners may post bonds or cash. Many insurance companies oppose compulsory auto insurance, for example: the NAII (National Association of Independent Insurers). State Farm opposes compulsory auto insurance because it forces poor to choose between groceries and insurance. A study done by Dr Robert Maril showed that, in a poor area of Arizona, 44% said they had trouble buying food or paying rent due to auto insurance. A survey done by the Montana DPHHS showed 12 of the 96 surveyed said auto insurance was a reason for needing food stamps.

High-risk market
Insurers may be unwilling to insure drivers (especially at an affordable price) with particularly bad histories, which had led states to create “residual market” programs through which insurers are required to make insurance available. There are various ways that this is accomplished, with the most common being an assigned risk plan[25] and other programs including joint underwriting associations, reinsurance facilities, and in the case of Maryland a state-owned fund subsidized by insurers.


Vehicle insurance

Vehicle insurance (also known as car insurance, motor insurance or auto insurance) is insurance for cars, trucks, motorcycles, and other road vehicles. Its primary use is to provide financial protection against physical damage or bodily injury resulting from traffic collisions and against liability that could also arise there from. Vehicle insurance may additionally offer financial protection against as theft of the vehicle, and against damage to the vehicle sustained from events other than traffic collisions, such as keying and damage sustained by colliding with stationary objects. The specific terms of vehicle insurance vary with legal regulations in each region.


Widespread use of the automobile began after the First World War in urban areas. Cars were relatively fast and dangerous by that stage, yet there was still no compulsory form of car insurance anywhere in the world. This meant that injured victims would seldom get any compensation in an accident, and drivers often faced considerable costs for damage to their car and property.

A compulsory car insurance scheme was first introduced in the United Kingdom with the Road Traffic Act 1930. This ensured that all vehicle owners and drivers had to be insured for their liability for injury or death to third parties whilst their vehicle was being used on a public road.[citation needed] Germany enacted similar legislation in 1939.
Public policies

In many jurisdictions it is compulsory to have vehicle insurance before using or keeping a motor vehicle on public roads. Most jurisdictions relate insurance to both the car and the driver, however the degree of each varies greatly.

Several jurisdictions have experimented with a “pay-as-you-drive” insurance plan which is paid through a gasoline tax (petrol tax). This would address issues of uninsured motorists and also charge based on the miles (kilometers) driven, which could theoretically increase the efficiency of the insurance, through streamlined collection.

In Australia, Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurance is a state-based scheme that covers only personal injury liability. Comprehensive and Third Party Property Damage insurance are sold separately.

Comprehensive insurance covers damage to third-party and the insured property and vehicle.
Third Party Property Damage insurance covers damage to third-party property and vehicles, but not the insured vehicle.
Third Party Property Damage with Fire and Theft insurance additionally covers the insured vehicle against fire and theft.

Compulsory Third Party Insurance

CTP insurance is linked to the registration of a vehicle. It is transferred when a vehicle already registered is sold. It covers the vehicle owner and any person who drives the vehicle against claims for liability in respect of the death or injury to people caused by the fault of the vehicle owner or driver, but not for damage. A Compulsory Third Party Insurance is the coverage which covers the third party with the repairing cost of vehicle, any property damage or medication expenses which is encountered as a result of an accident by the insured. This may include any kind of physical damage, bodily injuries or damage to property and covers the cost of all reasonable medical treatment for injuries received in the accident, loss of wages, cost of care services, and in some cases compensation for pain and suffering. Notably the motorist or the insured is responsible for his own loss as he is not covered for any loss in such type of insurance.

In New South Wales and the Northern Territory CTP insurance is compulsory; each vehicle must be insured when registered. A ‘Greenslip,'[2] another name by which CTP insurance is commonly known due to the colour of the form, must be obtained through one of the five licensed insurers in New South Wales. Suncorp and Allianz both hold two licences to issue CTP Greenslips – Suncorp under the GIO and AAMI licences and Allianz under the Allianz and CIC/Allianz licences. The remaining three licences to issue CTP Greenslips are held by QBE, Zurich and Insurance Australia Limited (NRMA). APIA and Shannons and InsureMyRide insurance also supply CTP insurance licensed by GIO. In addition to the Greenslip, an additional car insurance can be purchased through insurers in Australia. This will cover claims that the standard CTP insurance cannot provide. This is known as a comprehensive car insurance.[citation needed]

A similar scheme applies in the Australian Capital Territory through AAMI, GIO and NRMA (IAL).

In Victoria, Third Party Personal insurance from the Transport Accident Commission is similarly included, through a levy, in the vehicle registration fee. A similar scheme exists in Tasmania through the Motor Accidents Insurance Board.

In Queensland, CTP is a mandatory part of registration for a vehicle. There is choice of insurer but price is government controlled in a tight band.

In South Australia, Third Party Personal insurance from the Motor Accident Commission is included in the licence registration fee for people over 17. A similar scheme applies in Western Australia.

Several Canadian provinces (British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Quebec) provide a public auto insurance system while in the rest of the country insurance is provided privately [third party insurance is privatized in Quebec and is mandatory. The province covers everything but the vehicle(s)]. Basic auto insurance is mandatory throughout Canada with each province’s government determining which benefits are included as minimum required auto insurance coverage and which benefits are options available for those seeking additional coverage. Accident benefits coverage is mandatory everywhere except for Newfoundland and Labrador. All provinces in Canada have some form of no-fault insurance available to accident victims. The difference from province to province is the extent to which tort or no-fault is emphasized. International drivers entering Canada are permitted to drive any vehicle their licence allows for the 3-month period for which they are allowed to use their international licence. International laws provide visitors to the country with an International Insurance Bond (IIB) until this 3-month period is over in which the international driver must provide themselves with Canadian Insurance. The IIB is reinstated every time the international driver enters the country. Damage to the driver’s own vehicle is optional – one notable exception to this is in Saskatchewan, where SGI provides collision coverage (less than a $1000 deductible, such as a collision damage waiver) as part of its basic insurance policy. In Saskatchewan, residents have the option to have their auto insurance through a tort system but less than 0.5% of the population have taken this option.


Since 1939, it has been compulsory to have third party personal insurance before keeping a motor vehicle in all federal states of Germany. In addition, every vehicle owner is free to take out a comprehensive insurance policy. All types of car insurances are provided by several private insurers. The amount of insurance contribution is determined by several criteria, like the region, the type of car or the personal way of driving.[4]

The minimum coverage defined by German law for car liability insurance / third party personal insurance is: 7.5 million euro for bodily injury (damage to people), 1 million euro for property damage and 50,000 euro for financial/fortune loss which is in no direct or indirect coherence with bodily injury or property damage. Insurance companies usually offer all-in/combined single limit insurances of 50 Million Euro or 100 Million Euro (about 141 Million Dollar) for bodily injury, property damage and other financial/fortune loss (usually with a bodily injury coverage limitation of 8 to 15 million euro for each bodily injured person).

Third-party vehicle insurance is mandatory for all vehicles in Hungary. No exemption is possible by money deposit. The premium covers all damage up to HUF 500M (about €1.8M) per accident without deductible. The coverage is extended to HUF 1,250M (about €4.5M) in case of personal injuries. Vehicle insurance policies from all EU-countries and some non-EU countries are valid in Hungary based on bilateral or multilateral agreements. Visitors with vehicle insurance not covered by such agreements are required to buy a monthly, renewable policy at the border.


Auto Insurance in India deals with the insurance covers for the loss or damage caused to the automobile or its parts due to natural and man-made calamities. It provides accident cover for individual owners of the vehicle while driving and also for passengers and third party legal liability. There are certain general insurance companies who also offer online insurance service for the vehicle.

Auto Insurance in India is a compulsory requirement for all new vehicles used whether for commercial or personal use. The insurance companies have tie-ups with leading automobile manufacturers. They offer their customers instant auto quotes. Auto premium is determined by a number of factors and the amount of premium increases with the rise in the price of the vehicle. The claims of the Auto Insurance in India can be accidental, theft claims or third party claims. Certain documents are required for claiming Auto Insurance in India, like duly signed claim form, RC copy of the vehicle, Driving license copy, FIR copy, Original estimate and policy copy.

There are different types of Auto Insurance in India :

Private Car Insurance – In the Auto Insurance in India, Private Car Insurance is the fastest growing sector as it is compulsory for all the new cars. The amount of premium depends on the make and value of the car, state where the car is registered and the year of manufacture.

Two Wheeler Insurance – The Two Wheeler Insurance under the Auto Insurance in India covers accidental insurance for the drivers of the vehicle. The amount of premium depends on the current showroom price multiplied by the depreciation rate fixed by the Tariff Advisory Committee at the time of the beginning of policy period.

Commercial Vehicle Insurance – Commercial Vehicle Insurance under the Auto Insurance in India provides cover for all the vehicles which are not used for personal purposes, like the Trucks and HMVs. The amount of premium depends on the showroom price of the vehicle at the commencement of the insurance period, make of the vehicle and the place of registration of the vehicle. The auto insurance generally includes:

– Loss or damage by accident, fire, lightning, self ignition, external explosion, burglary, housebreaking or theft, malicious act.
– Liability for third party injury/death, third party property and liability to paid driver
– On payment of appropriate additional premium, loss/damage to electrical/electronic accessories

The auto insurance does not include:

– Consequential loss, depreciation, mechanical and electrical breakdown, failure or breakage
– When vehicle is used outside the geographical area
– War or nuclear perils and drunken driving.


The Road Traffic Act, 1933 requires all drivers of mechanically propelled vehicles in public places to have at least third-party insurance, or to have obtained exemption – generally by depositing a (large) sum of money with the High Court as a guarantee against claims. In 1933 this figure was set at £15,000.[7] The Road Traffic Act, 1961[8] (which is currently in force) repealed the 1933 act but replaced these sections with functionally identical sections.

From 1968, those making deposits require the consent of the Minister for Transport to do so, with the sum specified by the Minister.

Those not exempted from obtaining insurance must obtain a certificate of insurance from their insurance provider, and display a portion of this (an insurance disc) on their vehicles windscreen (if fitted).[citation needed] The certificate in full must be presented to a police station within ten days if requested by an officer. Proof of having insurance or an exemption must also be provided to pay for the motor tax.[citation needed]

Those injured or suffering property damage/loss due to uninsured drivers can claim against the Motor Insurance Bureau of Ireland’s uninsured drivers fund, as can those injured (but not those suffering damage or loss) from hit and run offences.

The law 990/1969 requires that each motor vehicle or trailer standing or moving on a public road have third party insurance (called RCA, Responsabilità civile per gli autoveicoli). Historically, a part of the certificate of insurance must be displayed on the windscreen of the vehicle. This latter requirement was revoked in 2015, when a national database of insured vehicles was built by the Insurance Company Association (ANIA, Associazione Nazionale Imprese Assicuratrici) and the National Transportation Authority (Motorizzazione Civile) to verify (by private citizens and public authorities) if a vehicle is insured. There is no exemption policy to this law disposition.

Driving without the necessary insurance for that vehicle is an offence that can be prosecuted by the police and fines range from 841 to 3,287 euros. Police forces also have the power to seize a vehicle that does not have the necessary insurance in place, until the owner of the vehicle pays a fine and signs a new insurance policy. The same provision is applied when the vehicle is standing on public road.

Minimal insurance policies covers only third parties (including the insured person and third parties carried with the vehicle, but not the driver, if the two do not coincide). Also the third parties, fire and theft are common insurance policies, while the all inclusive policies (kasko policy) which include also damages of the vehicle causing the accident or the injuries. It is also common to include a renounce clause of the insurance company to compensate the damages against the insured person in some cases (usually in case of DUI or other infringement of the law by the driver).

The victims of accident caused by non-insured vehicles could be compensated by the Road’s Victim Warranty Fund (Fondo garanzia vittime della strada), which is covered by a fixed amount (2.5%, as 2015) of each RCA insurance premium.
New Zealand

Within New Zealand, the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) provides nationwide no-fault personal injury insurance.[9] Injuries involving motor vehicles operating on public roads are covered by the Motor Vehicle Account, for which premiums are collected through levies on petrol and through vehicle licensing fees.[10]

In Norway, the vehicle owner must provide the minimum of liability insurance for his vehicle(s) – of any kind. Otherwise, the vehicle is illegal to use. If a person drives a vehicle belonging to someone else, and has an accident, the insurance will cover for damage done. Note that the policy carrier can choose to limit the coverage to only apply for family members or person over a certain age.

Romanian law mandates Răspundere Auto Civilă, a motor-vehicle liability insurance for all vehicle owners to cover damages to third parties.[11]
Russian Federation

Motor-vehicle insurance is mandatory for all owners according to Russian legislation.
South Africa

South Africa allocates a percentage of the money from fuel into the Road Accident Fund, which goes towards compensating third parties in accidents.[12][13]

Each motor vehicle in a public road to have a third party insurance (called “Seguro de responsabilidad civil”).

Police forces have the power to seize vehicles that do not have the necessary insurance in place, until the owner of the vehicle pays the fine and sign a new insurance policy. Driving without the necessary insurance for that vehicle is an offence that will be prosecuted by the police and will receive penalty. Same provision is applied when the vehicle is standing on public road.

The minimal insurance policies covers only third parties (included the insured person and third parties carried with the vehicle, but not the driver, if the two do not coincide). Also the third parties, fire and theft are common insurance policies.

The victims of accident caused by non-insured vehicles could be compensated by a Warranty Fund, which is covered by a fixed amount of each insurance premium.

Since 2013 it is possible to contract an insurance by days as is possible in countries such as Germany and England.[14]
United Arab Emirates
When buying car insurance in the United Arab Emirates, traffic department require a 13-month insurance certificate each time you register or renew a vehicle registration.

United Kingdom

In 1930, the UK government introduced a law that required every person who used a vehicle on the road to have at least third-party personal injury insurance. Today, this UK law is defined by the Road Traffic Act 1988,[15] (generally referred to as the RTA 1988 as amended) which was last modified in 1991. The Act requires that motorists either be insured, or have made a specified deposit (£500,000 in 1991) and keeps the sum deposited with the Accountant General of the Supreme Court, against liability for injuries to others (including passengers) and for damage to other persons’ property, resulting from use of a vehicle on a public road or in other public places.

It is an offence to use a motor vehicle, or allow others to use it without insurance that satisfies the requirements of the Act. This requirement applies while any part of a vehicle (even if a greater part of it is on private land) is on the public highway. No such legislation applies on private land. However, private land to which the public have a reasonable right of access (for example, a supermarket car park during opening hours) is considered to be included within the requirements of the Act.

Police have the power to seize vehicles that do not appear to have necessary insurance in place. A driver caught driving without insurance for the vehicle he/she is in charge of for the purposes of driving, is liable to be prosecuted by the police and, upon conviction, will receive either a fixed penalty or magistrate’s courts penalty.

The registration number of the vehicle shown on the insurance policy, along with other relevant information including the effective dates of cover are transmitted electronically to the UK’s Motor Insurance Database (MID) which exists to help reduce incidents of uninsured driving in the territory. The Police are able to spot-check vehicles that pass within range of automated number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras, that can search the MID instantly. It should be noted, however, that proof of insurance lies entirely with the issue of a Certificate of Motor Insurance, or cover note, by an Authorised Insurer which, to be valid, must have been previously ‘delivered’ to the insured person in accordance with the Act, and be printed in black ink on white paper.

The insurance certificate or cover note issued by the insurance company constitutes the only legal evidence that the policy to which the certificate relates satisfies the requirements of the relevant law applicable in Great Britain, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man, the Island of Guernsey, the Island of Jersey and the Island of Alderney. The Act states that an authorised person, such as a police officer, may require a driver to produce an insurance certificate for inspection. If the driver cannot show the document immediately on request, and evidence of insurance cannot be found by other means such as the MID, then the Police are empowered to seize the vehicle instantly.

The immediate impounding of an apparently uninsured vehicle replaces the former method of dealing with insurance spot-checks where drivers were issued with an HORT/1 (so-called because the order was form number 1 issued by the Home Office Road Traffic dept). This ‘ticket’ was an order requiring that within seven days, from midnight of the date of issue, the driver concerned was to take a valid insurance certificate (and usually other driving documents as well) to a police station of the driver’s choice. Failure to produce an insurance certificate was, and still is, an offence. The HORT/1 was commonly known – even by the issuing authorities when dealing with the public – as a “Producer”. As these are seldom issued now and the MID relied upon to indicate the presence of insurance or not, it is incumbent upon the insurance industry to accurately and swiftly update the MID with current policy details and insurers that fail to do so can be penalised by their regulating body.

Vehicles kept in the UK must now be continuously insured unless a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) has been formally submitted. This requirement arose following a change in the law in June 2011 when a regulation known as Continuous Insurance Enforcement (CIE) came into force. The effect of this was that in the UK a vehicle that is not declared SORN, must have a valid insurance policy in force whether or not it is kept on public roads and whether or not it is driven.[16]

Insurer, and Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) / licence data, are shared by the relevant authorities including the Police and this forms an integral part of the mechanism of CIE. All UK registered vehicles, including those that are exempt from VED (for example, Historic Vehicles and cars with low or zero emissions) are subject to the VED taxation application process. Part of this is a check on the vehicle’s insurance. A physical receipt for the payment of VED was issued by way of a paper disc which, prior to 1 October 2014, meant that all motorists in the UK were required to prominently display the tax disc on their vehicle when it was kept or driven on public roads. This helped to ensure that most people had adequate insurance on their vehicles because insurance cover was required to purchase a disc, although the insurance must merely have been valid at the time of purchase and not necessarily for the life of the tax disc.[17] To address the problems that arise where a vehicle’s insurance was subsequently cancelled but the tax disc remained in force and displayed on the vehicle and the vehicle then used without insurance, the CIE regulations are now able to be applied as the Driver & Vehicle Licence Authority (DVLA) and the MID databases are shared in real-time meaning that a taxed but uninsured vehicle is easily detectable by both authorities and Traffic Police. Post 1 October 2014 it is no longer a requirement to display a vehicle excise licence (tax disc) on a vehicle.[18] This has come about because the whole VED process can now be administered electronically and alongside the MID, doing away with the expense, to the UK Government, of issuing paper discs.

If a vehicle is to be “laid up” for whatever reason, a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) must be submitted to the DVLA to declare that the vehicle is off the public roads and will not return to them unless SORN is cancelled by the vehicle’s owner. Once a vehicle has been declared ‘SORN’ then the legal requirement to insure it ceases, although many vehicle owners may desire to maintain cover for loss of or damage to the vehicle while it is off the road. A vehicle that is then to be put back on the road must be subject to a new application for VED and be insured. Part of the VED application requires an electronic check of the MID, in this way the lawful presence of a vehicle on the road for both VED and insurance purposes is reinforced. It follows that the only circumstances in which a vehicle can have no insurance is if it has a valid SORN; was exempted from SORN (as untaxed on or before 31/10/1998 and has had no tax or SORN activity since); is recorded as ‘stolen and not recovered’ by the Police; is between registered keepers; or is scrapped.

Road Traffic Act Only Insurance differs from Third Party Only Insurance (detailed below) and is not often sold, unless to underpin, for example, a corporate body wishing to self-insure above the requirements of the Act. It provides the very minimum cover to satisfy the requirements of the Act. Road Traffic Act Only Insurance has a limit of £1,000,000 for damage to third party property, while third party only insurance typically has a greater limit for third party property damage.

Motor insurers in the UK place a limit on the amount that they are liable for in the event of a claim by third parties against a legitimate policy. This can be explained in part by the Great Heck Rail Crash that cost the insurers over £22 million in compensation for the fatalities and damage to property caused by the actions of the insured driver of a motor vehicle that caused the disaster. No limit applies to claims from third parties for death or personal injury, however UK car insurance is now commonly limited to £20m for any claim or series of claims for loss of or damage to third party property caused by or arising out of one incident.

The minimum level of insurance cover generally available, and which satisfies the requirement of the Act, is called third party only insurance. The level of cover provided by Third party only insurance is basic, but does exceed the requirements of the act. This insurance covers any liability to third parties, but does not cover any other risks.

More commonly purchased is third party, fire and theft. This covers all third party liabilities and also covers the vehicle owner against the destruction of the vehicle by fire (whether malicious or due to a vehicle fault) and theft of the insured vehicle. It may or may not cover vandalism. This kind of insurance and the two preceding types do not cover damage to the vehicle caused by the driver or other hazards.

Comprehensive insurance covers all of the above and damage to the vehicle caused by the driver themselves, as well as vandalism and other risks. This is usually the most expensive type of insurance. Interestingly, it is custom in the UK for insurance customers to refer to their Comprehensive Insurance as “Fully Comprehensive” or popularly, “Fully Comp”. This is a tautology as the word ‘Comprehensive’ means full.

Some classes of vehicle ownership, or use, are “Crown Exempt” from the requirement to be covered under the Act including vehicles owned or operated by certain councils and local authorities, national park authorities, education authorities, police authorities, fire authorities, health service bodies, the security services and vehicles used to or from Shipping Salvage purposes. Although exempt from the requirement to insure this provides no immunity against claims being made against them, so an otherwise Crown Exempt authority may chose to insure conventionally, preferring to incur the known expense of insurance premiums rather than accept the open-ended exposure of effectively, self-insuring under Crown Exemption.

The Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) compensates the victims of road accidents caused by uninsured and untraced motorists. It also operates the MID, which contain details of every insured vehicle in the country and acts as a means to share information between Insurance Companies.

Soon after the introduction of the Road Traffic Act in 1930, unexpected issues arose when motorists needed to drive a vehicle other than their own in genuine emergency circumstances. Volunteering to move a vehicle, for example, where another motorist had been taken ill or been involved in an accident, could lead to the ‘assisting’ driver being prosecuted for no insurance if the other car’s insurance did not cover use by any driver. To alleviate this situation an extension to UK Car Insurances was introduced allowing a Policyholder to personally drive any other motor car not belonging to him/her and not hired to him/her under a hire purchase or leasing agreement. This extension of cover, known as “Driving Other Cars” (where it is granted) usually applies to the Policyholder only. The cover provided is for Third Party Risks only and there is absolutely no cover for loss of or damage to the vehicle being driven. This aspect of UK motor insurance is the only one that purports to cover the driving of a vehicle, not use.

On 1 March 2011 the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg ruled that gender could no longer be used by insurers to set car insurance premiums. The new ruling will come into action from December 2012.[citation needed]
Investigation into repair costs & fraudulent claims
In September 2012 it was announced that the Competition Commission had launched an investigation into the UK system for credit repairs and credit hire of an alternative vehicle leading to claims from third parties following an accident. Where their client is considered to be not at fault, Accident Management Companies will take over the running of their client’s claim and arrange everything for them, usually on a ‘No Win – No Fee’ basis. It was shown that the insurers of the at-fault vehicle, were unable to intervene in order to have control over the costs that were applied to the claim by means of repairs, storage, vehicle hire, referral fees and personal injury. The subsequent cost of some items submitted for consideration has been a cause for concern over recent years as this has caused an increase in the premium costs, contrary to the general duty of all involved to mitigate the cost of claims. Also, the recent craze of “Cash for crash” has substantially raised the cost of policies. This is where two parties arrange a collision between their vehicles and one driver making excessive claims for damage and non existent injuries to themselves and the passengers that they had arranged to be “in the vehicle” at the time of the collision. Another recent development has seen crashes being caused deliberately by a driver “slamming” on their brakes so that the driver behind hits them, this is usually carried out at roundabout junctions, when the following driver is looking to the right for oncoming traffic and does not notice that the vehicle in front has suddenly stopped for no reason. The ‘staging’ of a motor collision on the Public Highway for the purpose of attempting an insurance fraud is considered by the Courts to be organised crime and upon conviction is dealt with as such.

United States

Vehicle insurance in the United States

The regulations for vehicle insurance differ with each of the 50 US states and other territories, with each U.S. state having its own mandatory minimum coverage requirements (see separate main article). Each of the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia requires drivers to have insurance coverage for both bodily injury and property damage, but the minimum amount of coverage required by law varies by state. For example, minimum bodily injury liability coverage requirements range from $30,000 in Arizona[19] to $100,000 in Alaska and Maine,[20] while minimum property damage liability requirements range from $5,000 to $25,000 in most states.

Coverage levels

Vehicle insurance can cover some or all of the following items:

The insured party (medical payments)
Property damage caused by the insured
The insured vehicle (physical damage)
Third parties (car and people, property damage and bodily injury)
Third party, fire and theft
In some jurisdictions coverage for injuries to persons riding in the insured vehicle is available without regard to fault in the auto accident (No Fault Auto Insurance)
The cost to rent a vehicle if yours is damaged.
The cost to tow your vehicle to a repair facility.
Accidents involving uninsured motorists.

Different policies specify the circumstances under which each item is covered. For example, a vehicle can be insured against theft, fire damage, or accident damage independently.

If a vehicle is declared a total loss and the vehicle’s market value is less than the amount that is still owed to the bank that is financing the vehicle, GAP insurance may cover the difference. Not all auto insurance policies include GAP insurance. GAP insurance is often offered by the finance company at time the vehicle is purchased.

An excess payment, also known as a deductible, is a fixed contribution that must be paid each time a car is repaired with the charges billed to an automotive insurance policy. Normally this payment is made directly to the accident repair “garage” (the term “garage” refers to an establishment where vehicles are serviced and repaired) when the owner collects the car. If one’s car is declared to be a “write off” (or “totaled”), then the insurance company will deduct the excess agreed on the policy from the settlement payment it makes to the owner.

If the accident was the other driver’s fault, and this fault is accepted by the third party’s insurer, then the vehicle owner may be able to reclaim the excess payment from the other person’s insurance company.

The excess itself can also be protected by a motor excess insurance policy.[citation needed]

Compulsory excess

A compulsory excess is the minimum excess payment the insurer will accept on the insurance policy. Minimum excesses vary according to the personal details, driving record and the insurance company. For example, young or inexperienced drivers and types of incident can incur additional compulsory excess charges.

Voluntary excess

To reduce the insurance premium, the insured party may offer to pay a higher excess (deductible) than the compulsory excess demanded by the insurance company. The voluntary excess is the extra amount, over and above the compulsory excess, that is agreed to be paid in the event of a claim on the policy. As a bigger excess reduces the financial risk carried by the insurer, the insurer is able to offer a significantly lower premium.

Basis of premium charges

auto insurance risk selection

Depending on the jurisdiction, the insurance premium can be either mandated by the government or determined by the insurance company, in accordance with a framework of regulations set by the government. Often, the insurer will have more freedom to set the price on physical damage coverages than on mandatory liability coverages.

When the premium is not mandated by the government, it is usually derived from the calculations of an actuary, based on statistical data. The premium can vary depending on many factors that are believed to affect the expected cost of future claims.[21] Those factors can include the car characteristics, the coverage selected (deductible, limit, covered perils), the profile of the driver (age, gender, driving history) and the usage of the car (commute to work or not, predicted annual distance driven).


The address of the owner can affect the premiums. Areas with high crime rates generally lead to higher costs of insurance.


Because male drivers, especially younger ones, are on average often regarded as tending to be more aggressive, the premiums charged for policies on vehicles whose primary driver is male are often higher. This discrimination may be dropped if the driver is past a certain age.[citation needed]

On 1 March 2011, the European Court of Justice decided insurance companies who used gender as a risk factor when calculating insurance premiums were breaching EU equality laws.[25] The Court ruled that car-insurance companies were discriminating against men.[25] However, in some places, such as the UK, companies have used the standard practice of discrimination based on profession to still use gender as a factor, albeit indirectly. Professions which are more typically practised by men are deemed as being more risky even if they had not been prior to the Court’s ruling while the converse is applied to professions predominant among women.[26] Another effect of the ruling has been that, while the premiums for men have been lowered, they have been raised for women. This equalisation effect has also been seen in other types of insurance for individuals, such as life insurance.


Teenage drivers who have no driving record will have higher car insurance premiums. However, young drivers are often offered discounts if they undertake further driver training on recognized courses, such as the Pass Plus scheme in the UK. In the US many insurers offer a good-grade discount to students with a good academic record and resident-student discounts to those who live away from home. Generally insurance premiums tend to become lower at the age of 25. Some insurance companies offer “stand alone” car insurance policies specifically for teenagers with lower premiums. By placing restrictions on teenagers’ driving (forbidding driving after dark, or giving rides to other teens, for example), these companies effectively reduce their risk.

Senior drivers are often eligible for retirement discounts, reflecting the lower average miles driven by this age group. However, rates may increase for senior drivers after age 65, due to increased risk associated with much older drivers. Typically, the increased risk for drivers over 65 years of age is associated with slower reflexes, reaction times, and being more injury-prone.[citation needed]
U.S. driving history

In most U.S. states, moving violations, including running red lights and speeding, assess points on a driver’s driving record. Since more points indicate an increased risk of future violations, insurance companies periodically review drivers’ records, and may raise premiums accordingly. Rating practices, such as debit for a poor driving history, are not dictated by law. Many insurers allow one moving violation every three to five years before increasing premiums. Accidents affect insurance premiums similarly. Depending on the severity of the accident and the number of points assessed, rates can increase by as much as twenty to thirty percent.[29] Any motoring convictions should be disclosed to insurers, as the driver is assessed by risk from prior experiences while driving on the road.
Marital status

Statistics show that married drivers average fewer accidents than the rest of the population so policy owners who are married often receive lower premiums than single persons.

The profession of the driver may be used as a factor to determine premiums. Certain professions may be deemed more likely to result in damages if they regularly involve more travel or the carrying of expensive equipment or stock or if they are predominant either among women or among men.

Vehicle classification

Two of the most important factors that go into determining the underwriting risk on motorized vehicles are: performance capability and retail cost. The most commonly available providers of auto insurance have underwriting restrictions against vehicles that are either designed to be capable of higher speeds and performance levels, or vehicles that retail above a certain dollar amount. Vehicles that are commonly considered luxury automobiles usually carry more expensive physical damage premiums because they are more expensive to replace. Vehicles that can be classified as high performance autos will carry higher premiums generally because there is greater opportunity for risky driving behavior. Motorcycle insurance may carry lower property-damage premiums because the risk of damage to other vehicles is minimal, yet have higher liability or personal-injury premiums, because motorcycle riders face different physical risks while on the road. Risk classification on automobiles also takes into account the statistical analysis of reported theft, accidents, and mechanical malfunction on every given year, make, and model of auto.


Some car insurance plans do not differentiate in regard to how much the car is used. There are however low-mileage discounts offered by some insurance providers. Other methods of differentiation would include: over-road distance between the ordinary residence of a subject and their ordinary, daily destinations.

Reasonable distance estimation

Another important factor in determining car-insurance premiums involves the annual mileage put on the vehicle, and for what reason. Driving to and from work every day at a specified distance, especially in urban areas where common traffic routes are known, presents different risks than how a retiree who does not work any longer may use their vehicle. Common practice has been that this information was provided solely by the insured person, but some insurance providers have started to collect regular odometer readings to verify the risk.

Odometer-based systems

Cents Per Mile Now (1986) advocates classified odometer-mile rates, a type of usage-based insurance. After the company’s risk factors have been applied, and the customer has accepted the per-mile rate offered, then customers buy prepaid miles of insurance protection as needed, like buying gallons of gasoline (litres of petrol). Insurance automatically ends when the odometer limit (recorded on the car’s insurance ID card) is reached, unless more distance is bought. Customers keep track of miles on their own odometer to know when to buy more. The company does no after-the-fact billing of the customer, and the customer doesn’t have to estimate a “future annual mileage” figure for the company to obtain a discount. In the event of a traffic stop, an officer could easily verify that the insurance is current, by comparing the figure on the insurance card to that on the odometer.

Critics point out the possibility of cheating the system by odometer tampering. Although the newer electronic odometers are difficult to roll back, they can still be defeated by disconnecting the odometer wires and reconnecting them later. However, as the Cents Per Mile Now website points out:

As a practical matter, resetting odometers requires equipment plus expertise that makes stealing insurance risky and uneconomical. For example, to steal 20,000 miles [32,200 km] of continuous protection while paying for only the 2000 in the 35000 to 37000 range on the odometer, the resetting would have to be done at least nine times, to keep the odometer reading within the narrow 2,000-mile [3,200 km] covered range. There are also powerful legal deterrents to this way of stealing insurance protection. Odometers have always served as the measuring device for resale value, rental and leasing charges, warranty limits, mechanical breakdown insurance, and cents-per-mile tax deductions or reimbursements for business or government travel. Odometer tampering, detected during claim processing, voids the insurance and, under decades-old state and federal law, is punishable by heavy fines and jail.

Under the cents-per-mile system, rewards for driving less are delivered automatically, without the need for administratively cumbersome and costly GPS technology. Uniform per-mile exposure measurement for the first time provides the basis for statistically valid rate classes. Insurer premium income automatically keeps pace with increases or decreases in driving activity, cutting back on resulting insurer demand for rate increases and preventing today’s windfalls to insurers, when decreased driving activity lowers costs but not premiums.
GPS-based system

In 1998, the Progressive Insurance company started a pilot program in Texas, in which drivers received a discount for installing a GPS-based device that tracked their driving behavior and reported the results via cellular phone to the company. Policyholders were reportedly more upset about having to pay for the expensive device than they were over privacy concerns.[citation needed] The program was discontinued in 2000. In following years many policies (including Progressive) have been trialed and successfully introduced worldwide into what are referred to as Telematic Insurance. Such ‘telematic’ policies typically are based on black-box insurance technology, such devices derive from stolen vehicle and fleet tracking but are used for insurance purposes. Since 2010 GPS-based and Telematic Insurance systems have become more mainstream in the auto insurance market not just aimed at specialised auto-fleet markets or high value vehicles (with an emphasis on stolen vehicle recovery). Modern GPS-based systems are branded as ‘PAYD’ Pay As You Drive insurance policies, ‘PHYD’ Pay How You Drive or since 2012 Smartphone auto insurance policies which utilise smartphones as a GPS sensor, e.g. . A detailed survey of the smartphone as measurement probe for insurance telematics is provided in OBDII-based system

The Progressive Corporation launched Snapshot to give drivers a customized insurance rate based on recording how, how much, and when their car is driven.[35] Snapshot is currently available in 46 states plus the District of Columbia. Because insurance is regulated at the state level, Snapshot is currently not available in Alaska, California, Hawaii, and North Carolina.[35] Driving data is transmitted to the company using an on-board telematic device. The device connects to a car’s OnBoard Diagnostic (OBD-II) port (all petrol automobiles in the USA built after 1996 have an OBD-II.) and transmits speed, time of day and number of miles the car is driven. Cars that are driven less often, in less-risky ways, and at less-risky times of day, can receive large discounts. Progressive has received patents on its methods and systems of implementing usage-based insurance and has licensed these methods and systems to other companies.

Metromile also uses an OBDII-based system for their mileage-based insurance. They offer a true pay-per-mile insurance where behavior or driving style is not taken into account, and the user only pays a base rate along with a fixed rate per mile.[36] The OBD-II device measures mileage and then transmits mileage data to servers. This is intended to be an affordable car insurance policy for low-mileage drivers. Metromile is currently only offering personal car insurance policies and is available in California, Oregon, Washington, and Illinois.

Credit ratings

Insurance companies have started using credit ratings of their policyholders to determine risk. Drivers with good credit scores get lower insurance premiums, as it is believed that they are more financially stable, more responsible and have the financial means to better maintain their vehicles. Those with lower credit scores can have their premiums raised or insurance canceled outright.[38] It has been shown that good drivers with spotty credit records could be charged higher premiums than bad drivers with good credit records.

Behavior-based insurance
The use of non-intrusive load monitoring to detect drunk driving and other risky behaviors has been proposed. A US patent application combining this technology with a usage based insurance product to create a new type of behavior based auto insurance product is currently open for public comment on peer to patent.[41] See Behavior-based safety. Behaviour based Insurance focusing upon driving is often called Telematics or Telematics2.0 in some cases monitoring focus upon behavioural analysis such as smooth driving.

Repair insurance

Auto repair insurance is an extension of car insurance available in all 50 of the United States that covers the natural wear and tear on a vehicle, independent of damages related to a car accident.

Some drivers opt to buy the insurance as a means of protection against costly breakdowns unrelated to an accident. In contrast to more standard and basic coverages such as comprehensive and collision insurance, auto repair insurance does not cover a vehicle when it is damaged in a collision, during a natural disaster or at the hands of vandals.

For many it is an attractive option for protection after the warranties on their cars expire.

Providers can also offer sub-divisions of auto repair insurance. There is standard repair insurance which covers the wear and tear of vehicles, and naturally occurring breakdowns. Some companies will only offer mechanical breakdown insurance, which only covers repairs necessary when breakable parts need to be fixed or replaced. These parts include transmissions, oil pumps, pistons, timing gears, flywheels, valves, axles and joints.


Insurance meaning and types

Insurance is a means of protection from financial loss. It is a form of risk management primarily used to hedge against the risk of a contingent, uncertain loss.

An entity which provides insurance is known as an insurer, insurance company, or insurance carrier. A person or entity who buys insurance is known as an insured or policyholder. The insurance transaction involves the insured assuming a guaranteed and known relatively small loss in the form of payment to the insurer in exchange for the insurer’s promise to compensate the insured in the event of a covered loss. The loss may or may not be financial, but it must be reducible to financial terms, and must involve something in which the insured has an insurable interest established by ownership, possession, or preexisting relationship.

The insured receives a contract, called the insurance policy, which details the conditions and circumstances under which the insured will be financially compensated. The amount of money charged by the insurer to the insured for the coverage set forth in the insurance policy is called the premium. If the insured experiences a loss which is potentially covered by the insurance policy, the insured submits a claim to the insurer for processing by a claims adjuster.

Early methods

Methods for transferring or distributing risk were practiced by Chinese and Babylonian traders as long ago as the 3rd and 2nd millennia BC, respectively. Chinese merchants travelling treacherous river rapids would redistribute their wares across many vessels to limit the loss due to any single vessel’s capsizing. The Babylonians developed a system which was recorded in the famous Code of Hammurabi, c. 1750 BC, and practiced by early Mediterranean sailing merchants. If a merchant received a loan to fund his shipment, he would pay the lender an additional sum in exchange for the lender’s guarantee to cancel the loan should the shipment be stolen, or lost at sea.

At some point in the 1st millennium BC, the inhabitants of Rhodes created the ‘general average’. This allowed groups of merchants to pay to insure their goods being shipped together. The collected premiums would be used to reimburse any merchant whose goods were jettisoned during transport, whether to storm or sinkage.

Separate insurance contracts (i.e., insurance policies not bundled with loans or other kinds of contracts) were invented in Genoa in the 14th century, as were insurance pools backed by pledges of landed estates. The first known insurance contract dates from Genoa in 1347, and in the next century maritime insurance developed widely and premiums were intuitively varied with risks. These new insurance contracts allowed insurance to be separated from investment, a separation of roles that first proved useful in marine insurance.

Modern insurance

Insurance became far more sophisticated in Enlightenment era Europe, and specialized varieties developed.

Property insurance as we know it today can be traced to the Great Fire of London, which in 1666 devoured more than 13,000 houses. The devastating effects of the fire converted the development of insurance “from a matter of convenience into one of urgency, a change of opinion reflected in Sir Christopher Wren’s inclusion of a site for ‘the Insurance Office’ in his new plan for London in 1667”. A number of attempted fire insurance schemes came to nothing, but in 1681, economist Nicholas Barbon and eleven associates established the first fire insurance company, the “Insurance Office for Houses”, at the back of the Royal Exchange to insure brick and frame homes. Initially, 5,000 homes were insured by his Insurance Office.

At the same time, the first insurance schemes for the underwriting of business ventures became available. By the end of the seventeenth century, London’s growing importance as a center for trade was increasing demand for marine insurance. In the late 1680s, Edward Lloyd opened a coffee house, which became the meeting place for parties in the shipping industry wishing to insure cargoes and ships, and those willing to underwrite such ventures. These informal beginnings led to the establishment of the insurance market Lloyd’s of London and several related shipping and insurance businesses.

The first life insurance policies were taken out in the early 18th century. The first company to offer life insurance was the Amicable Society for a Perpetual Assurance Office, founded in London in 1706 by William Talbot and Sir Thomas Allen. Edward Rowe Mores established the Society for Equitable Assurances on Lives and Survivorship in 1762.

It was the world’s first mutual insurer and it pioneered age based premiums based on mortality rate laying “the framework for scientific insurance practice and development” and “the basis of modern life assurance upon which all life assurance schemes were subsequently based”.

In the late 19th century, “accident insurance” began to become available. The first company to offer accident insurance was the Railway Passengers Assurance Company, formed in 1848 in England to insure against the rising number of fatalities on the nascent railway system.

By the late 19th century, governments began to initiate national insurance programs against sickness and old age. Germany built on a tradition of welfare programs in Prussia and Saxony that began as early as in the 1840s. In the 1880s Chancellor Otto von Bismarck introduced old age pensions, accident insurance and medical care that formed the basis for Germany’s welfare state. In Britain more extensive legislation was introduced by the Liberal government in the 1911 National Insurance Act. This gave the British working classes the first contributory system of insurance against illness and unemployment. This system was greatly expanded after the Second World War under the influence of the Beveridge Report, to form the first modern welfare state.


Insurance involves pooling funds from many insured entities (known as exposures) to pay for the losses that some may incur. The insured entities are therefore protected from risk for a fee, with the fee being dependent upon the frequency and severity of the event occurring. In order to be an insurable risk, the risk insured against must meet certain characteristics. Insurance as a financial intermediary is a commercial enterprise and a major part of the financial services industry, but individual entities can also self-insure through saving money for possible future losses.
Main article: Insurability

Risk which can be insured by private companies typically shares seven common characteristics:

Large number of similar exposure units: Since insurance operates through pooling resources, the majority of insurance policies are provided for individual members of large classes, allowing insurers to benefit from the law of large numbers in which predicted losses are similar to the actual losses. Exceptions include Lloyd’s of London, which is famous for insuring the life or health of actors, sports figures, and other famous individuals. However, all exposures will have particular differences, which may lead to different premium rates.
Definite loss: The loss takes place at a known time, in a known place, and from a known cause. The classic example is death of an insured person on a life insurance policy. Fire, automobile accidents, and worker injuries may all easily meet this criterion. Other types of losses may only be definite in theory. Occupational disease, for instance, may involve prolonged exposure to injurious conditions where no specific time, place, or cause is identifiable. Ideally, the time, place, and cause of a loss should be clear enough that a reasonable person, with sufficient information, could objectively verify all three elements.
Accidental loss: The event that constitutes the trigger of a claim should be fortuitous, or at least outside the control of the beneficiary of the insurance. The loss should be pure, in the sense that it results from an event for which there is only the opportunity for cost. Events that contain speculative elements such as ordinary business risks or even purchasing a lottery ticket are generally not considered insurable.
Large loss: The size of the loss must be meaningful from the perspective of the insured. Insurance premiums need to cover both the expected cost of losses, plus the cost of issuing and administering the policy, adjusting losses, and supplying the capital needed to reasonably assure that the insurer will be able to pay claims. For small losses, these latter costs may be several times the size of the expected cost of losses. There is hardly any point in paying such costs unless the protection offered has real value to a buyer.
Affordable premium: If the likelihood of an insured event is so high, or the cost of the event so large, that the resulting premium is large relative to the amount of protection offered, then it is not likely that the insurance will be purchased, even if on offer. Furthermore, as the accounting profession formally recognizes in financial accounting standards, the premium cannot be so large that there is not a reasonable chance of a significant loss to the insurer. If there is no such chance of loss, then the transaction may have the form of insurance, but not the substance (see the U.S. Financial Accounting Standards Board pronouncement number 113: “Accounting and Reporting for Reinsurance of Short-Duration and Long-Duration Contracts”).
Calculable loss: There are two elements that must be at least estimable, if not formally calculable: the probability of loss, and the attendant cost. Probability of loss is generally an empirical exercise, while cost has more to do with the ability of a reasonable person in possession of a copy of the insurance policy and a proof of loss associated with a claim presented under that policy to make a reasonably definite and objective evaluation of the amount of the loss recoverable as a result of the claim.
Limited risk of catastrophically large losses: Insurable losses are ideally independent and non-catastrophic, meaning that the losses do not happen all at once and individual losses are not severe enough to bankrupt the insurer; insurers may prefer to limit their exposure to a loss from a single event to some small portion of their capital base. Capital constrains insurers’ ability to sell earthquake insurance as well as wind insurance in hurricane zones. In the United States, flood risk is insured by the federal government. In commercial fire insurance, it is possible to find single properties whose total exposed value is well in excess of any individual insurer’s capital constraint. Such properties are generally shared among several insurers, or are insured by a single insurer who syndicates the risk into the reinsurance market.


When a company insures an individual entity, there are basic legal requirements and regulations. Several commonly cited legal principles of insurance include:

Indemnity – the insurance company indemnifies, or compensates, the insured in the case of certain losses only up to the insured’s interest.
Benefit insurance – as it is stated in the study books of The Chartered Insurance Institute, the insurance company does not have the right of recovery from the party who caused the injury and is to compensate the Insured regardless of the fact that Insured had already sued the negligent party for the damages (for example, personal accident insurance)
Insurable interest – the insured typically must directly suffer from the loss. Insurable interest must exist whether property insurance or insurance on a person is involved. The concept requires that the insured have a “stake” in the loss or damage to the life or property insured. What that “stake” is will be determined by the kind of insurance involved and the nature of the property ownership or relationship between the persons. The requirement of an insurable interest is what distinguishes insurance from gambling.
Utmost good faith – (Uberrima fides) the insured and the insurer are bound by a good faith bond of honesty and fairness. Material facts must be disclosed.
Contribution – insurers which have similar obligations to the insured contribute in the indemnification, according to some method.
Subrogation – the insurance company acquires legal rights to pursue recoveries on behalf of the insured; for example, the insurer may sue those liable for the insured’s loss. The Insurers can waive their subrogation rights by using the special clauses.

Causa proxima, or proximate cause – the cause of loss (the peril) must be covered under the insuring agreement of the policy, and the dominant cause must not be excluded
Mitigation – In case of any loss or casualty, the asset owner must attempt to keep loss to a minimum, as if the asset was not insured.


Main article: Indemnity

To “indemnify” means to make whole again, or to be reinstated to the position that one was in, to the extent possible, prior to the happening of a specified event or peril. Accordingly, life insurance is generally not considered to be indemnity insurance, but rather “contingent” insurance (i.e., a claim arises on the occurrence of a specified event). There are generally three types of insurance contracts that seek to indemnify an insured:

A “reimbursement” policy
A “pay on behalf” or “on behalf of policy”
An “indemnification” policy

From an insured’s standpoint, the result is usually the same: the insurer pays the loss and claims expenses.

If the Insured has a “reimbursement” policy, the insured can be required to pay for a loss and then be “reimbursed” by the insurance carrier for the loss and out of pocket costs including, with the permission of the insurer, claim expenses.

Under a “pay on behalf” policy, the insurance carrier would defend and pay a claim on behalf of the insured who would not be out of pocket for anything. Most modern liability insurance is written on the basis of “pay on behalf” language which enables the insurance carrier to manage and control the claim.

Under an “indemnification” policy, the insurance carrier can generally either “reimburse” or “pay on behalf of”, whichever is more beneficial to it and the insured in the claim handling process.

An entity seeking to transfer risk (an individual, corporation, or association of any type, etc.) becomes the ‘insured’ party once risk is assumed by an ‘insurer’, the insuring party, by means of a contract, called an insurance policy. Generally, an insurance contract includes, at a minimum, the following elements: identification of participating parties (the insurer, the insured, the beneficiaries), the premium, the period of coverage, the particular loss event covered, the amount of coverage (i.e., the amount to be paid to the insured or beneficiary in the event of a loss), and exclusions (events not covered). An insured is thus said to be “indemnified” against the loss covered in the policy.

When insured parties experience a loss for a specified peril, the coverage entitles the policyholder to make a claim against the insurer for the covered amount of loss as specified by the policy. The fee paid by the insured to the insurer for assuming the risk is called the premium. Insurance premiums from many insureds are used to fund accounts reserved for later payment of claims – in theory for a relatively few claimants – and for overhead costs. So long as an insurer maintains adequate funds set aside for anticipated losses (called reserves), the remaining margin is an insurer’s profit.

Social effects

Insurance can have various effects on society through the way that it changes who bears the cost of losses and damage. On one hand it can increase fraud; on the other it can help societies and individuals prepare for catastrophes and mitigate the effects of catastrophes on both households and societies.

Insurance can influence the probability of losses through moral hazard, insurance fraud, and preventive steps by the insurance company. Insurance scholars have typically used moral hazard to refer to the increased loss due to unintentional carelessness and insurance fraud to refer to increased risk due to intentional carelessness or indifference. Insurers attempt to address carelessness through inspections, policy provisions requiring certain types of maintenance, and possible discounts for loss mitigation efforts. While in theory insurers could encourage investment in loss reduction, some commentators have argued that in practice insurers had historically not aggressively pursued loss control measures—particularly to prevent disaster losses such as hurricanes—because of concerns over rate reductions and legal battles. However, since about 1996 insurers have begun to take a more active role in loss mitigation, such as through building codes.

Methods of insurance

In accordance with study books of The Chartered Insurance Institute, there are the following types of insurance:

1. Co-insurance – risks shared between insurers
2. Dual insurance – risks having two or more policies with same coverage (Both the individual policies would not pay separately- a concept named contribution, and would contribute together to make up the policyholder’s losses. However, in case of contingency insurances like Life insurance, dual payment is allowed)
3. Self-insurance – situations where risk is not transferred to insurance companies and solely retained by the entities or individuals themselves
4. Reinsurance – situations when Insurer passes some part of or all risks to another Insurer called Reinsurer

Insurers’ business model

Underwriting and investing

The business model is to collect more in premium and investment income than is paid out in losses, and to also offer a competitive price which consumers will accept. Profit can be reduced to a simple equation:

Profit = earned premium + investment income – incurred loss – underwriting expenses.

Insurers make money in two ways:

Through underwriting, the process by which insurers select the risks to insure and decide how much in premiums to charge for accepting those risks
By investing the premiums they collect from insured parties

The most complicated aspect of the insurance business is the actuarial science of ratemaking (price-setting) of policies, which uses statistics and probability to approximate the rate of future claims based on a given risk. After producing rates, the insurer will use discretion to reject or accept risks through the underwriting process.

At the most basic level, initial ratemaking involves looking at the frequency and severity of insured perils and the expected average payout resulting from these perils. Thereafter an insurance company will collect historical loss data, bring the loss data to present value, and compare these prior losses to the premium collected in order to assess rate adequacy. Loss ratios and expense loads are also used. Rating for different risk characteristics involves at the most basic level comparing the losses with “loss relativities”—a policy with twice as many losses would therefore be charged twice as much. More complex multivariate analyses are sometimes used when multiple characteristics are involved and a univariate analysis could produce confounded results. Other statistical methods may be used in assessing the probability of future losses.

Upon termination of a given policy, the amount of premium collected minus the amount paid out in claims is the insurer’s underwriting profit on that policy. Underwriting performance is measured by something called the “combined ratio”, which is the ratio of expenses/losses to premiums. A combined ratio of less than 100% indicates an underwriting profit, while anything over 100 indicates an underwriting loss. A company with a combined ratio over 100% may nevertheless remain profitable due to investment earnings.

Insurance companies earn investment profits on “float”. Float, or available reserve, is the amount of money on hand at any given moment that an insurer has collected in insurance premiums but has not paid out in claims. Insurers start investing insurance premiums as soon as they are collected and continue to earn interest or other income on them until claims are paid out. The Association of British Insurers (gathering 400 insurance companies and 94% of UK insurance services) has almost 20% of the investments in the London Stock Exchange.

In the United States, the underwriting loss of property and casualty insurance companies was $142.3 billion in the five years ending 2003. But overall profit for the same period was $68.4 billion, as the result of float. Some insurance industry insiders, most notably Hank Greenberg, do not believe that it is forever possible to sustain a profit from float without an underwriting profit as well, but this opinion is not universally held.

Naturally, the float method is difficult to carry out in an economically depressed period. Bear markets do cause insurers to shift away from investments and to toughen up their underwriting standards, so a poor economy generally means high insurance premiums. This tendency to swing between profitable and unprofitable periods over time is commonly known as the underwriting, or insurance, cycle.

Claims and loss handling is the materialized utility of insurance; it is the actual “product” paid for. Claims may be filed by insureds directly with the insurer or through brokers or agents. The insurer may require that the claim be filed on its own proprietary forms, or may accept claims on a standard industry form, such as those produced by ACORD.

Insurance company claims departments employ a large number of claims adjusters supported by a staff of records management and data entry clerks. Incoming claims are classified based on severity and are assigned to adjusters whose settlement authority varies with their knowledge and experience. The adjuster undertakes an investigation of each claim, usually in close cooperation with the insured, determines if coverage is available under the terms of the insurance contract, and if so, the reasonable monetary value of the claim, and authorizes payment.

The policyholder may hire their own public adjuster to negotiate the settlement with the insurance company on their behalf. For policies that are complicated, where claims may be complex, the insured may take out a separate insurance policy add-on, called loss recovery insurance, which covers the cost of a public adjuster in the case of a claim.

Adjusting liability insurance claims is particularly difficult because there is a third party involved, the plaintiff, who is under no contractual obligation to cooperate with the insurer and may in fact regard the insurer as a deep pocket. The adjuster must obtain legal counsel for the insured (either inside “house” counsel or outside “panel” counsel), monitor litigation that may take years to complete, and appear in person or over the telephone with settlement authority at a mandatory settlement conference when requested by the judge.

If a claims adjuster suspects under-insurance, the condition of average may come into play to limit the insurance company’s exposure.

In managing the claims handling function, insurers seek to balance the elements of customer satisfaction, administrative handling expenses, and claims overpayment leakages. As part of this balancing act, fraudulent insurance practices are a major business risk that must be managed and overcome. Disputes between insurers and insureds over the validity of claims or claims handling practices occasionally escalate into litigation (see insurance bad faith).

Insurers will often use insurance agents to initially market or underwrite their customers. Agents can be captive, meaning they write only for one company, or independent, meaning that they can issue policies from several companies. The existence and success of companies using insurance agents is likely due to improved and personalized service. Companies also use Broking firms, Banks and other corporate entities (like Self Help Groups, Microfinance Institutions, NGOs etc.) to market their products.

Any risk that can be quantified can potentially be insured. Specific kinds of risk that may give rise to claims are known as perils. An insurance policy will set out in detail which perils are covered by the policy and which are not. Below are non-exhaustive lists of the many different types of insurance that exist. A single policy that may cover risks in one or more of the categories set out below. For example, vehicle insurance would typically cover both the property risk (theft or damage to the vehicle) and the liability risk (legal claims arising from an accident). A home insurance policy in the United States typically includes coverage for damage to the home and the owner’s belongings, certain legal claims against the owner, and even a small amount of coverage for medical expenses of guests who are injured on the owner’s property.

Business insurance can take a number of different forms, such as the various kinds of professional liability insurance, also called professional indemnity (PI), which are discussed below under that name; and the business owner’s policy (BOP), which packages into one policy many of the kinds of coverage that a business owner needs, in a way analogous to how homeowners’ insurance packages the coverages that a homeowner needs.