Vehicle insurance (also known as auto insurance, car insurance, or motor insurance) is insurance purchased for cars, trucks, and other vehicles. Its primary use is to provide protection against losses incurred as a result of traffic accidents and against liability that could be incurred in an accident.
A 1994 study by Jeremy Jackson and Roger Blackman showed, consistent with the risk homeostasis theory, that increased accident costs caused large and significant reductions in accident frequencies.
In New South Wales, Compulsory Third Party Insurance (commonly known as CTP Insurance) is a mandatory requirement and each individual car must be insured or the vehicle will not be considered legal. Therefore, a motorist cannot drive the vehicle until it is insured. A 'Green Slip,' another name CTP Insurance is commonly known by due to the colour of the pages the form is printed on, must be obtained through one of the seven main insurers in New South Wales.
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). 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 your motor tax.
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.
Today UK law is defined by The Road Traffic Act 1988, which was last modified in 1991. The act requires that some motorists either be insured, have a security, or have made a specified deposit (£500,000 as of 1991) with the Accountant General of the Supreme Court, against their 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.
The minimum level of insurance cover commonly 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.
Road Traffic Act Only Insurance is not the same as Third Party Only Insurance and thankfully is not often sold. It provides the very minimum cover to satisfy the requirements of the act. For example Road Traffic Act Only Insurance has a limit of £250,000 for damage to third party property and does not cover emergency treatment fees. Third party insurance has a far greater limit for third party property damage and will cover emergency treatment fees.
It is an offence to drive your car, or allow others to drive it, without at least third party insurance whilst on the public highway (or public place Section 143(1)(a) RTA 1988 as amended 1991); however, no such legislation applies on private land.
Vehicles which are exempted by the act, from the requirement to be covered, include those owned by certain councils and local authorities, national park authorities, education authorities, police authorities, fire authorities, heath service bodies and security services.
The insurance certificate or cover note issued by the insurance company constitutes legal evidence that the vehicle specified on the document is indeed insured. The law says that an authorised person, such as the police, may require a driver to produce an insurance certificate for inspection. If the driver cannot show the document immediately on request, then the driver will usually be issued a HORT/1 with seven days, as of midnight of the date of issue, 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 is an offence.
Insurance is more expensive in Northern Ireland than in other parts of the UK.
Most motorists in the UK are required to prominently display a vehicle licence (tax disc) on their vehicle when it is kept or driven on public roads. This helps to ensure that most people have adequate insurance on their vehicles because you are required to produce an insurance certificate when you purchase the disc.
The Motor Insurers Bureau compensates the victims of road accidents caused by uninsured and untraced motorists. It also operates the Motor Insurance Database, which contains details of every insured vehicle in the country.
Some states, such as North Carolina, require that a driver hold liability insurance before a license can be issued.
Arizona Department of Transportation Research Project Manager John Semmens has recommended that car insurers issue license plates, and that they be held responsible for the full cost of injuries and property damages 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 in order 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.
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 the accident was the other driver's fault, and this is accepted by the third party's insurer, you'll be able to reclaim your excess payment from the other person's insurance company.
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 have an impact on 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).
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, in order to steal of continuous protection while paying for only the from to on the odometer, the resetting would have to be done at least nine times to keep the odometer reading within the narrow 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 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.
In the United States, liability insurance covers claims against the policy holder and generally, any other operator of the insured vehicles, provided they do not live at the same address as the policy holder, and are not specifically excluded on the policy. In the case of those living at the same address, they must specifically be covered on the policy. Thus it is necessary, for example, when a family member comes of driving age they must be added to the policy. Liability insurance sometimes does not protect the policy holder if they operate any vehicles other than their own. When you drive a vehicle owned by another party, you are covered under that party’s policy. Non-owners policies may be offered that would cover an insured on any vehicle they drive. This coverage is available only to those who do not own their own vehicle and is sometimes required by the government for drivers who have previously been found at fault in an accident. Non-owners policies are also known as Named Operator Policies. The policies are useful for people whose drivers license has been suspended and they have to have insurance for their licensed to be reinstated.
Generally, liability coverage extends when you rent a car. 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 transaction is processed using one of their cards. These benefits are restrictive in terms of the types of vehicles covered.
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 imparement to have the right to claim (or sue) under the insured driver's (or 1st Party's) policy.
In some jurisdictions: Liability coverage is available either as a combined single limit policy, or as a split limit policy:
In the state of Oklahoma, you must carry at least state minimum liability limits of $25,000/50,000/25,000. 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 persons medical bills but will not exceed 50,000 for other people injured in the accident. The insurance company will pay porperty damage not to exceed 25,000 in repairs to the vehicle that the insured hit.
In the United States, the definition of an uninsured/underinsured motorist, and corresponding coverages, are set by state laws.
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 the auto dealership as a comparatively low cost add on that can be put into the car loan which provides coverage for the duration of the loan.
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.