Auto Insurance

Auto Insurance Terminology

Auto insurance coverage can be confusing, but it doesn’t have to be. To help you make informed decisions about your auto insurance coverage, take a look at some of the common auto insurance terms and definitions. Still have questions? Review these frequently asked questions or contact your ERIE auto insurance agent.

Auto Insurance Terms A-C Explained

Accident report form:

Typically referred to as a police report, this report contains important information about an auto accident, such as circumstances, parties involved and citations given.

At fault:

The degree to which you caused or contributed to an accident, or are “at fault,” and determines whose auto insurance company pays what portion of the damages. The method by which this is determined varies from state to state.

Bodily injury coverage:

If you are at fault for an automobile accident, bodily injury coverage on an auto insurance policy pays the medical expenses and additional damages for which you are liable for other individuals injured in the accident.


When you suffer a loss that’s covered by your insurance, such as an automobile accident, you submit a request to your auto insurance company to pay or reimburse you for expenses, damages and other financial obligations. By definition, that request is called a claim.

Claims adjuster:

A representative of an auto insurance company who investigates and settles claims to ensure that all parties – you, your auto insurance company, and anyone else involved – receive fair compensation.

Collision coverage:

Coverage that pays for physical damage to your vehicle caused by rolling over or a collision with another vehicle or object, such as a building, fence or telephone pole.

Comprehensive coverage:

Coverage that pays for damages to your vehicle resulting from a covered loss other than a collision, such as fire, theft, vandalism or contact with persons, animals, birds or falling objects.

Covered loss:

Any damage to yourself, your vehicle, or other people or property that is covered under your insurance policy.

Auto Insurance Terms D-L Explained


The portion of a covered loss for which you are responsible, as opposed to the portion your insurance company pays. Higher deductibles allow your insurance company to offer you lower premiums, as you assume responsibility for a larger amount of loss.


Any change, addition or optional coverage added to a policy. These include adding a new vehicle or driver, changing your address, adjusting limits and other modifications.


Specifically identified situations that are not covered by your auto insurance policy.

Independent agent, independent agency:

An insurance agent or agency not directly employed by an insurance company. By definition, independent agents may represent multiple insurance companies and can help you find the best fit for your personal auto insurance needs.

Liability coverage:

Coverage for damages your auto causes to others and their property


Auto Insurance Terms M-Z Explained

Medical payments coverage:

Coverage that pays for reasonable medical expenses or death benefits to anyone covered under your policy in the event of an auto accident, regardless of fault.

Motor vehicle report (MVR):

A state record of licensing status, violations, suspensions, and other infractions you’ve had over the last several years. The MVR is one of many factors used by your auto insurance company to fairly determine your premium, based on the probability that you’ll have a claim in the future.


The amount you pay for your insurance coverage; can be paid monthly, quarterly, yearly or according to different payment plans that you select.


A written agreement between you and your auto insurance company that details what the company will cover, contract conditions and provisions and the amount you’ll pay for your coverage.

Road service:

If purchased, this auto insurance coverage will reimburse you for reasonable towing costs and labor costs at the site of breakdown when a covered vehicle is disabled.

Underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage:

Coverage that pays for your bodily injury and related medical expenses when you’re injured in an automobile accident and the responsible party (other than yourself) doesn’t have adequate auto insurance.

Uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage:

Coverage that pays for your bodily injury and related medical expenses when you’re injured in an automobile accident and the responsible party (other than yourself) doesn’t have auto insurance or can’t be located (hit-and-run).

Vehicle identification number (VIN):

Your vehicle’s serial number assigned by the manufacturer. The VIN identifies year, make, model, options and other information that, by definition, is unique to your specific vehicle.

Note: Every state regulates auto insurance differently, and some of these terms and definitions may differ from state to state, or from policy to policy.