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Personal Auto Insurance

A personal auto policy is insurance on your personal vehicle. It may include liability, medical payment coverage, comprehensive, or collision coverage, depending on your policy. 

What Is a Personal Auto Policy? 

A personal auto policy (PAP) refers to a standard insurance policy issued to personal drivers. The Insurance Services Office developed the PAP as a way to standardize personal insurance. PAP covers: 

  • Personal vehicles 

  • Pickup trucks or vans that weigh less than 10,000 pounds 


Whether you're commuting to work, taking a road trip, or completing errands, your personal auto policy should cover you.

However, it may not cover you if you use your vehicle for business, even if you are just delivering pizzas or working for a rideshare company. You may need business insurance for these uses. It is always a good idea to check with your policy to ensure you are covered. 

What Does a Personal Auto Policy Include? 

A personal auto policy must include liability coverage but may also include other coverages. It may include any of the following: 


Liability Coverage

Liability coverage is a requirement in most U.S. states. It protects other drivers if you cause damage to them in the form of bodily injuries or property damages. While coverage limits vary from state to state based on minimum requirements.

The limits refer to the maximum that your insurance company will pay if you are at fault for an accident. 

According to (, in addition to medical bills and lost wages, liability coverage may sometimes cover other costs related to an accident, like judgment interest or bond premiums.


Liability coverage protects the following people: 

  • The insured driver 

  • Family members of the insured driver who are on the policy 

  • Any drivers the policyholder has permitted to drive their vehicle 

  • An employee or member of an organization for which insurance covers the group 

Depending on your insurance policy's details, it may also cover friends who borrow your vehicle but are not on your policy, as long as you give them permission to drive it. 

What and who is covered will vary depending on the details of your policy. It is always a good idea to check what your policy covers before you need to file an insurance claim. Some people may be excluded from these coverages, including business vehicles or a person who steals your vehicle.

Medical Payments Coverage 

Medical payments coverage covers the medical costs of the policyholder and anyone in their vehicle at the time of the accident. This type of coverage is not usually a requirement and may have a separate premium. Before deciding whether or not to add it to your policy, it is beneficial to find out what it does and does not include. Some people may have medical payment coverage with their health insurance provider. 

Uninsured Motorist Coverage 

Uninsured motorist coverage can protect you if you're in an accident with a driver who is uninsured or underinsured. This can help you cover costs if another driver is at fault. Again, many insurance companies have specific requirements as to what is and is not included.

For example, this coverage may not be eligible if any of the following occur: 

  • You were in a vehicle that does not have uninsured motorist coverage. 

  • You were in an accident with another vehicle on your policy. 

  • You come to a settlement agreement without the permission of your insurance company. 

  • You are using the vehicle for business without the knowledge of the insurance company. 


If you choose to add uninsured motorist coverage to your policy, find out when it applies. Additionally, some states may require some uninsured motorist insurance coverage. 

Physical Damage Coverage 

Physical damage coverage covers any physical damages to your vehicle. This includes: 

  • Collision damage: This covers damages to your vehicle related to a collision with another vehicle or object. 

  • Non-collision damage: This includes damages to your vehicle not related to a collision, such as flooding or wind damage. 


These types of damages are covered with a comprehensive or collision policy. They are optional add-on policies that are not a requirement. If you have a lease or you took out a loan to buy your vehicle, however, you may be required to carry physical damage coverage on your vehicle. 


Physical damage coverage also has exclusions, depending on your policy. Your insurance company may deny your comprehensive or collision claim if any of the following is responsible for the damages: 

  • You were using the vehicle for business without the permission of the insurance company. 

  • The damage is due to normal wear and tear. 

  • The damage is due to an act of war. 

  • Your coverage does not include vehicle accessories or upgrades. 

Adding comprehensive or collision coverage to your policy will usually increase your monthly rates. For this reason, it is important to find out what it covers. 

Duties after an Accident 

Duties after an accident refer to the specific obligations of the policyholder that you must meet in order to access your insurance benefits. Most insurance companies require you to complete the following: 

  • Notify your insurance provider that you have been in an accident. 

  • Cooperate in the claims process. 

  • Complete all required paperwork within the required timeline. 

  • Complete a medical evaluation, if required. 

  • Allow the insurance company's representative to review your medical records. 

  • Submit proof of damages. 

  • Notify the police of the accident. 

  • Allow the insurance representative to view the vehicle before making any repairs. 


Specific requirements will vary, depending on your insurance provider. If you have to file a claim, be sure to work closely with your agent. 

General Provisions 

General provisions refer to the legal requirements of the insurance contract. This usually includes things like a bankruptcy clause, the process of making changes to the policy, legal processes, and how to cancel the policy if requested. Carefully review these before signing your policy. 

A personal auto policy covers you and your passengers if you're in an accident. When comparing quotes, be sure to compare what types of personal coverage are included.  

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