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Car Insurance Glossary

  • Actual cash value (ACV): The market value of your car.
  • Adjuster: A representative of an insurance company whose job is to determine and “adjust” the amount of a loss and decide how much the company will pay for it.
  • Binder: An acknowledgment that the insurance for which you applied is in force, whether or not you have paid for it or received a policy.
  • Cancellation: If you don’t pay your premiums, an insurance company can cancel your personal auto policy by giving 10 days’ written notice. The company is required to give you 30 days’ written notice if it is canceling your policy for any other reason.
  • Collision coverage: This coverage pays for physical damage caused when your car collides with another car or object or if it overturns.
  • Comprehensive coverage: This coverage pays for damage to your vehicle not covered by collision coverage, such as fire, theft, or vandalism.
  • Credit history: Many personal auto and homeowner insurance companies look at consumer credit information to decide whether to issue an insurance policy and how much to charge.
  • Deductible: The deductible is the amount you agree to pay on each loss before your insurance company pays. Generally, the larger your deductible, the smaller your premium.
  • Diminution of value: After an accident and after repairs have been made, and if a vehicle is worth less than it was before the accident, its value has diminished. That difference in market value is called diminution of value. Most auto insurance policies exclude coverage for diminution of value. If your damages are being paid by the “at-fault” driver’s insurance, you may be owed compensation for the diminution of value. You must prove that the value of your vehicle diminished as a result of the accident. Evidence might consist of photos, Blue Book estimates, appraisals, a receipt for the fair market value sale of the vehicle, etc.
  • Financial responsibility law: If a judge convicts you of driving uninsured, you must file proof of future financial responsibility with Oregon Driver and Motor Vehicle Services (DMV) for three years or face suspension of your driving privileges. This is in addition to any fines you must pay. Your insurance company can make a financial responsibility filing for you by sending an SR-22 insurance certificate to the DMV to show that you have liability insurance.
  • Liability coverage: This coverage pays for losses to other people and their property caused by negligence on your part.
  • Preferred risk: A person less likely than the average person to make a claim. A preferred risk usually qualifies for a lower premium.
  • Proof of loss: An estimate of damages you provide to an insurance company to support your claim. Insurance companies often use this document to figure out how much they will pay.
  • SR-22: An SR-22 is a certificate from an Oregon-licensed insurance company certifying that you have purchased motor vehicle liability insurance as required by the state’s financial responsibility law.
  • Underwriting: The basic role of an insurance company: examining and accepting or rejecting risks and classifying the ones that are accepted to determine premiums.
  • Uninsured motorist bodily injury (UMBI) and Underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage: Coverage for bodily injury to you and your passengers caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver.
  • Uninsured motorist property damage coverage (UMPD): Coverage for damage to your auto caused by an uninsured driver, “phantom vehicle,” or a hit-and-run driver.
Updated on October 10, 2022
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