How “Aware” of Insurance Are You?

Wedged between Flag Day and the Fourth of July is the summer holiday you probably didn’t know you needed: Insurance Awareness Day. That’s right—June 28 is the day Americans are encouraged to educate themselves on their current policies and make sure they’re getting the coverage they need. We’re not totally sure what constitutes an appropriate way to celebrate this annual event (would streamers and balloons be overkill?), but we do know the day is a great excuse to get familiar with the ins and outs of insurance and feel confident that you’re covered.

pay-per-mile car insurance

While Insurance Awareness Day may not get the same Hallmark treatment as some other national commemorations, the holiday is worth recognizing. After all, according to a survey from car insurance comparison marketplace, The Zebra, 81 percent of consumers say they have the coverage they need, but 99 percent failed to correctly identify 10 basic coverage types and terms. Potentially more shocking? Twenty-two percent of respondents didn’t even realize they’re required by law to have car insurance. Scary, right?

You may know a thing or two about car insurance (or you may be part of that twenty-two percent—that’s okay! No judgment!). No matter how much knowledge you think you’ve got, it’s always a great idea to brush up on the basics and feel safe, secure, and satisfied with your coverage.

Why Insurance Coverage Is a Must

While most people do know they need car insurance, far fewer probably know why. Like any other kind of security, car insurance protects you (and your passengers) in case of an unexpected incident, like an accident, theft, damage, etc. Every state requires drivers to have some kind of insurance plan, but the specific requirements vary based on location. Regardless of where you live though, the local law does require you to prove you can pay damages in the event of an accident.

It seems straightforward, but car insurance can get a lot more complex than that. There are various types that offer different levels of protection; some are required and some are optional. Understanding the factors that go into determining the type of coverage you need can help you find a plan that’s got your back at a premium that won’t break the bank.

Everything You Need to Know About Your Policy

Unless you’re an insurance professional, chances are you’re a little perplexed by all the paperwork that comes with coverage. Getting to know a few key terms can help you get up to speed:

  • Declaration page: This refers to the first page (or several pages) of your policy that states the name of the person insured, their address, the insurance provider, the policy term, coverage limits, and other key facts about the plan and who it’s covering.
  • Coverage: This one seems simple, but there are various types of car insurance coverage available:

    • Bodily Injury (BI) coverage is required by most states to cover costs related to injuries or deaths to other people in the event of an accident that’s your fault.
    • Property Damage Liability (PD) covers the cost of damages to someone else’s property if you’re at fault in an accident.
    • Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury (UMBI) covers you in an accident if other driver is at-fault and uninsured.
    • Underinsured Motorist Bodily Injury (UIMBI) is very similar to UMBI but pays up to the limit for expenses in case the other driver is at-fault for the accident but can’t cover your costs because of their own plan’s insufficient liability limits.
    • Medical Payments could pay the medical deductibles and copayments that aren’t covered by your health insurer, or the insurer of any of your passengers.
    • Personal Injury Protection (PIP) covers your medical costs regardless of who’s at fault for the accident.
    • Comprehensive coverage can be helpful if your car is stolen or damaged in ways that don’t involve a collision.
    • Collision coverage covers you if your car collides with another object (like a car, a brick wall, a tree, etc).
    • Collision Deductible Waiver coverage isn’t available in every state, but if you have it, your collision deductible will be waived in case you’re in accident with an uninsured at-fault driver.
    • Underinsured Motorist Property Damage (UMPD) coverage pays for damages to your car if you’re hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver.
  • Deductible: The out-of-pocket amount you have to pay after a covered event (like an accident, theft, or weather damage) before your insurance kicks in. It’s basically your financial responsibility in case anything happens. For example, if your car requires $5,000 in repairs, and your deductible is $1,000, you’ll have to pay $1,000 before your insurer will pay the remaining $4,000. Your car insurance deductible will be applied for each claim you file (unlike health insurance deductibles which apply across the calendar year). That means if you submit two car insurance claims in a year, you’ll have to pay your deductible both times.
  • Premium: Your premium is the amount of money you pay your insurer to provide coverage for qualifying claims. The amount you pay is based on a variety of factors, including type and amount of coverage you want, the type of car you drive, your location, your driving record, your credit history, your age, your gender, and marital status.
  • Claim: A demand made by the insured person for provide coverage and compensation from the insurance company in the event of a loss, subject to the terms of the insurance policy contract.
  • Risk Assessment: This is how likely the insurer thinks it will be that you’ll file a claim, based on your driving record and other factors—this determines your rate.

How to Pick The Coverage That’s Right For You

To say car insurance is confusing is a major understatement. To know which kind of coverage you need, it’s best to ask yourself a series of questions so you can figure out the right policy for you. Here are some things to consider:

  • How much coverage do you need (and what’s required by your state)?
  • How much do you drive?
  • What’s your risk assessment?
  • Who will the policy cover?
  • What will your deductible be?
  • Is your car leased or financed?
  • Will you be driving for work?

Still confused? We don’t blame you—auto coverage can be a thorny issue. To ring in Insurance Awareness Day this year, why not visit metromile.com? You’ll find lots more information and have the chance to get a free quote. Now that’s the perfect way to celebrate.

Michelle Konstantinovsky is a San Francisco-based journalist/writer/editor and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism alumna. She’s written extensively on health, body image, entertainment, lifestyle, design, and tech for outlets like Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, Teen Vogue, O: The Oprah Magazine, Seventeen, and a whole lot more. She’s also a contributing editor at Fitbit and the social media director at California Home + Design Magazine. She is an avid admirer of shiny objects, manatees, and preteen entertainment.