What are the coverage characteristics of auto insurance?

Auto insurance usually has several components. Not all coverages are purchased by every applicant, but the basic coverages are as follows:

Liability insurance provides coverage to the named insured and others who are identified by name or by relationship to the named insured in the policy for negligent acts or omissions while operating the insured vehicle. Stated otherwise, if a covered person is legally liable for causing damage to another in the operation of the insured car, the insurer will pay those damages. Because the damages are payable to a third party, liability insurance is often referred to as "third-party coverage".

Liability insurance may be for bodily injury or for property damage, and the policy will specify the amount of coverage that is available for each type of damage. Some policies of commercial auto insurance have "combined single limits", which meld bodily injury and property damage coverage into a total available limit.

Medical Payments / Personal Injury Protection (PIP) is a form of "first party" coverage because it pays expenses incurred by the insured. Specifically, it pays a portion of the medical expenses and lost wages insured by the insured and others specified in the policy and/or by statute without regard to fault for the collision. The payments may be subject to a deductible.

Under-insured / Uninsured (UM) is designed to compensate the named insured or others designated in the policy by name or by their relation to the insured, for bodily injury, and the effects thereof, if the at-fault party did not have bodily injury liability coverage. Because it effectively takes the place of the adverse party's liability coverage, the damages recoverable by the insured or other person to whom the coverage applies may be reduced or eliminated according to the rules of comparative or contributory negligence to which the jurisdiction adheres.