How to read your car insurance policy after a crash

Even if you were not at fault, most people involved in a serious crash find that they need to access their own car insurance policy for cover medical bills and expenses.

But if you are not familiar with what it covers, you may not get the full value of your policy.

What to look for in your car insurance policy

In your car insurance policy, look for the Policy Declarations page.

This is a summary of your policy, including:

  • Policy number and dates;
  • Types of coverage;
  • Deductibles; and
  • Policy coverage amounts.

The Policy Declarations page is the quickest way to understand your benefits after a collision.

Look for Personal Injury Protection, Collision Coverage, and Liability Coverage.

Personal Injury Protection (PIP) 

PIP pays for initial medical expenses, wage loss, and other costs. This coverage is mandatory in Oregon insurance policies, but not in Washington.

If you have PIP—or Medical Payments coverage—you will want to give this information to your doctors and medical providers.

PIP may also cover wage loss, household assistance, and other expenses.

Note that there may be a separate insurance adjuster for PIP.  You can confirm your benefits with the PIP adjuster, and ask what type of documentation you need to provide to access your benefits.

Collision Coverage

This policy add-on covers your property damage: it may be the fastest way to have your vehicle repaired or replaced after a crash.

If the other driver was at fault, your insurance will likely seek reimbursement from the adverse driver’s insurance company for these costs.

You will be responsible for your deductible.

Liability Coverage

Washington and Oregon require all drivers to have a minimum auto insurance policy with $25,000 in coverage for death or injury to another person, and $50,000 in coverage total.

But, if the driver that caused the crash is uninsured, or their insurance doesn’t cover all of the costs and damages, then you may need to rely on your own Uninsured/Underinsured (UM/UIM).

This is just basic information, which is not intended to provide you with any legal advice or opinions. It may not apply to claims outside of Washington or Oregon, or to your claim

You should talk with to insurance broker yearly, just to review your coverage and make adjustments to your insurance policy.

Questions about using your car insurance policy after a crash? Contact Coluccio Law for a free consultation.×200.jpg

How to report a car crash and start an insurance claim

If you were involved in a crash, you should always file a car insurance claim—even if it wasn’t your fault.

There are many good reasons to start a claim now:

  • You pay for insurance, so you should access the benefits;
  • Your insurance company will handle the communication with the other driver’s insurance;
  • You want to go on the record in case unexpected problems arise;
  • Finally, there may be a claims time limit: it’s best to report as soon as possible.

Keep reading: A quick guide to filing a claim with your insurance company

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8 Replies to “How to read your car insurance policy after a crash”

  1. Being able to pay just a deductible instead of having to pay for an entire car or extensive repairs would be a big help. Knowing that even though you were in an accident and your vehicle is not functioning but that you will still receive some kind of reimbursement because of the crash would be comforting. That’s why auto insurance coverage would be something really good to have.


  2. I really appreciated the advice on how to find my Uninsured coverage in an accident. Recently my wife and I were involved in a pretty major car crash and the other driver did not have any car insurance, even though he was at fault! My wife and I weren’t sure what our next step should be with our insurance, but your advice for Uninsured coverage put us in the right direction!


  3. […] How to read and understand your car insurance policy after a crash […]


  4. My husband and I are getting new auto insurance for our brand new BMW’s, and so we’re looking more closely at what options we have in terms of insurance this time around. You’ve really helped break down the different factors in the insurance for us, particularly your explanation of liability coverage and how you mentioned how a driver at fault would need to rely on the UM/UIM as opposed to the general coverage. We’ll be sure to discuss that in further detail with the insurance agents, but I think I understand a little bit better how liability works and why it’s so important to avoid being declared at fault in an accident.


  5. Thanks for letting me know the importance of collision coverage. I want to purchase my first car, and I need to make sure I have good enough insurance to cover it. I’ll definitely keep collision coverage in mind so I can get that critical category taken care of.


  6. It’s interesting to know that the policy declarations page is the easiest way for me to know what will be covered by the auto insurance I want to get. I suppose I should look at the collisions coverage as well so I’ll know what benefits I’ll get from the policy. This way, I can make an informed decision if I’ll need to make adjustments to it in the future.


  7. I have often missed the details up till now. Will read the details from now on. Especially the liability coverage is important.


  8. It’s good to know that personal injury protection can cover wage loss as well as medical expenses. My wife and I are thinking about switching our car insurance since our deductible is getting more expensive than usual. We’ll be sure to look for these key things and other benefits that insurance providers offer.


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