auto insurance glossary

Auto insurance is chock-full of confusing terms and phrases. De-glaze those eyes with our straightforward auto insurance glossary that explains what that commonly used jargon actually means.


Absolute liability*

The liability of a wrongdoer's automobile insurance company to pay someone harmed by the wrongdoer, even if the wrongdoer has violated the terms of the insurance policy, for example, by driving with an expired licence. This is subject to a limit, usually $200,000, and the requirement that the wrongdoer in violation of the contract must reimburse the insurer.


An accident (also known as a car accident or wreck) is the term used to define a vehicle unintentionally colliding with another vehicle, person, or object.

See also: collision coverage, comprehensive coverage, liability, benefit

Accident benefits (AB)*

The part of auto insurance that provides medical care and income replacement benefits to insured persons injured in a car collision, regardless of who caused the accident. In some parts of the country, this is referred to as "Section B."

Accident forgiveness

By adding an accident forgiveness endorsement from Esurance, you’ll be allowed one at-fault accident every 6 years that doesn’t increase your rates. Any additional at-fault accidents within that time period, however, won’t be excused.

Depending on the driving records and experience of you and the covered drivers on your policy, certain restrictions may apply.

Act of God

In terms of insurance coverage, an act of God is an unpreventable natural occurrence that causes damage to your insured property. Examples include natural disasters and heavy storms.

Actual cash value

Your car's actual cash value (also known as its ACV) is calculated by determining its original value minus the amount your car has depreciated since you bought it. If your car is totalled, most car insurance coverages reimburse you only for the actual cash value of your car.

See also: depreciation, total loss


An insurance professional who analyzes various types of data and statistics to determine insurance risks and premiums.


An adjuster (also known as a claims adjuster, field adjuster, or insurance adjuster) is an insurance professional who examines damaged property and determines the monetary compensation an insurance company will pay a claimant.

See also: accident, claim

Aftermarket parts

Aftermarket parts (also known as replacement parts, generic parts, or aftermarket auto parts) are vehicle components produced by independent companies rather than the original manufacturer or dealership. For example, NAPA car parts and accessories are considered aftermarket parts, while Honda car parts (installed on a Honda) are not.

See also: adjuster, claim


Insurance agents are the authorized representatives of a specific insurance company. They sell insurance coverage, helps customers manage their policies, and provide advice on insurance contracts.

See also: broker

Antitheft recovery system

An electronic device installed in a concealed area of your car. If your car is stolen, you can activate the device and it'll emit a signal that can be used to locate your car. Such systems can be effective over a radius of several kilometres, depending on local geography.

At-fault driver

A driver who's deemed legally responsible for damage caused in a car accident.

In many cases, whatever percentage of fault an insured driver has in an accident, his or her insurance company pays that same percentage of the other driver’s damages (assuming it’s within the at-fault driver’s coverage limits). The at-fault driver would be financially responsible for any excess amount.

In situations that involve no-fault insurance, drivers would go through their own insurer regardless of fault. The percentage of fault can still come into play later on, for example, if the non-at-fault driver sues for further damages.

See also: liability, collision coverage

Auto insurance

Auto insurance (also known as car insurance, automobile insurance, and vehicle insurance) is a contract between a vehicle owner and an insurer. An auto insurance policy provides financial protection from the costs associated with a car accident, including property damage and personal liability.

See also: comprehensive coverage, collision coverage, liability



The amount paid by a car insurance company to you or your beneficiary when you file a car insurance claim.


A binder shows that coverage is in place (bound) for a specific amount of time, usually between 30 to 60 days. It will be replaced by a declarations page when the policy is issued.

When a policyholder requests a car loan, the loan company typically requires proof of insurance — which can be provided in the form of a signed binder.

Body shop

A body shop (also known as a repair shop or auto body shop) is an establishment dedicated to repairing vehicles. Body shops often employ mechanics and other types of automotive experts to offer a range of vehicle repair services.

See also: adjuster, claim, aftermarket parts


A car is branded after an accident to indicate its state of disrepair as one of the following:

Salvage — A vehicle that has sustained damage to the point where the cost of fixing it exceeds its cash value prior to the damage.

Irreparable — A vehicle that is incapable of safe highway operation, has sustained damage beyond repair and is only used for parts.

Rebuilt — A vehicle that was severely damaged but has been repaired and inspected and met rigorous determined standards.

Stolen — A vehicle that has been stolen from its owner. Only the police can apply or remove this brand.


A broker (also known as an insurance broker or independent insurance agent) is an independent insurance professional who helps clients obtain coverage that suits their needs by comparing offerings from multiple insurance companies. Rather than endorsing any particular company, a broker represents the consumer.

See also: agent


Car insurance

See: auto insurance

Car insurance calculator

A car insurance calculator attempts to predict what you would pay for a policy by quickly analyzing some general information about you as a driver. Some common things you may plug into a car insurance calculator to generate a quote are your age, gender, Postal Code, vehicle type, and accident history.

See also: quote

Car insurance companies

Car insurance companies (also known as car insurance carriers, auto insurance companies, or auto insurance carriers) underwrite policies to owners of cars, trucks, and other vehicles. The main purpose of the policy is to provide financial protection from car accidents, property damage, and the resulting liability.

See also: Esurance


A citation (also known as a ticket) is a legal summons generally issued as the result of a moving or non-moving driving violation.

Moving violations are driving-related infractions, such as speeding or failure to yield, whereas non-moving violations are legality-related issues, such as improper registration or parking violations.


A policyholder's notification of a possible loss under an insurance policy or a request to be reimbursed for a loss.


The person making the claim.


CLEAR is the Canadian Loss Experience Automobile Rating. This is a method for classifying different models of cars for insurance purposes by using historical claims data, including Collision, Comprehensive, Direct Compensation - Property Damage, and Accident Benefits coverages. CLEAR is used by many insurance companies across the country.

Collision coverage

Collision coverage can help pay for repairs or replacement costs to your own vehicle if your car hits another vehicle/object or if your car rolls over.

The maximum amount paid for repair or replacement is the car's actual cash value minus the deductible you choose when you buy your policy.

See also: comprehensive coverage, actual cash value, deductible


Commuting, in the context of car insurance, means that you primarily use your car to drive to and from work or school, or to drive to and from a train/subway station that takes you to work or school.

Comprehensive coverage

Comprehensive coverage can kick in when your car is damaged by fire, certain natural disasters, falling objects, or vandalism. Theft and accidents with animals are also covered under this coverage. Comprehensive coverage is legally optional but may be required by a loan or leasing agent if you finance your car.

The maximum amount paid for repair/replacement is the car's actual cash value (minus your deductible, of course).

See also: collision coverage

Compulsory insurance*

Any form of insurance (usually auto insurance) that is required by law.


Conditions are terms of insurance contracts that impose obligations an insured person must satisfy in order to preserve coverage.

Continuously insured

The length of time you've been continuously insured is the number of years you've been covered by one or more insurance companies without a lapse in your car insurance coverage.

Credit score

A numerical value that represents how likely it is an individual will repay a loan or other debt on time.

The higher your credit score, the better chance you have of being approved for loans, credit cards, vehicle financing, etc. Factors such as bill payment history, credit history, debt-to-credit ratio, and many other financial details can positively or negatively affect your credit score.

See also: insurance score


Damage to rental vehicles

This endorsement from Esurance extends your comprehensive and collision coverage to short-term rental vehicles you use in Canada or even the U.S.


The amount you agree to pay out of pocket before certain coverages kick in after you file an auto insurance claim. Generally, higher deductibles translate to lower premiums because you're assuming more of the financial risk in the event of an accident.

Declarations page

The declarations page (also known as a dec. page) of your car insurance policy summarizes the information essential to your auto insurance coverage: your name and address, descriptions of the insured vehicle(s), and the auto insurance premium, as well as the policy's coverages, limits, and deductibles.

Defensive driver and driver improvement courses

Defensive driver and driver improvement courses train drivers of all ages. Certain mature driver safety courses are typically aimed at drivers 55 and older.

Depending on your province, you may qualify for an auto insurance discount if you've completed an approved driver training course, your licence is less than 3 years old, and you meet certain other requirements.


The decline in an object's value due to age, wear and tear, or obsolescence.

Depreciation protection

When you select this endorsement from Esurance, any new car that’s totalled within the first 36 months will be reimbursed for the full purchase price.

Depreciation protection for leased vehicles

If your leased ride is damaged or totalled within 36 months of signing for it and you have this endorsement from Esurance, you can avoid owing more on the lease than the car is actually worth.

Direct auto insurance

Direct auto insurance (sometimes known as online insurance) lets consumers buy car insurance coverage directly through a company's website or over the phone rather than through an independent agent or broker.

See also: agent, broker

Direct writer

Insurance company offering the direct auto insurance (or other direct insurance policy).


Effective date

The date your auto insurance coverage begins. You are not covered by a car insurance policy until the effective date, which you can select when you buy your policy.


An endorsement refers to any change made to your original insurance contract. Endorsements include changing your deductibles or limits, adding other people or cars to your policy, and adding standard endorsements (such as loss of use or family protection) to your policy.

See also: car insurance, exclusions, limits, deductible


That's us. Esurance is a San Francisco-based car insurance company that offers direct-to-consumer personal car insurance. Esurance also has a Canadian subsidiary offering our same amazing service in Alberta. Our innovative approach to auto insurance allows customers to take advantage of affordable rates, great discounts, and handy tools.

Excluded driver

An individual who's specifically listed as someone not covered on a car insurance policy.

See also: insured, Motor Vehicle Report


Situations that are not covered by a given insurance policy. Any specific exclusion will be stated in your auto insurance policy.


Facility Association*

The organization that ensures that anyone who is required to have car insurance has access to it. For more information about the important role of Facility Association in the insurance market, please visit its website at

Family protection

Family protection coverage steps in to help in accidents with underinsured motorists. If you’re struck by a driver who lacks enough coverage to pay the damages they owe you, family protection automatically brings the at-fault driver's limits up to the level of protection listed on your family protection endorsement (usually the same limits as your third-party liability insurance).

Family protection also kicks in if you or those listed on your policy are pedestrians and are struck by an underinsured driver.

See also: body shop, adjuster, claim

Fault determination rules*

In Quebec, New Brunswick and Ontario, charts or rules are used to determine fault or responsibility for Direct Compensation - Property Damage claims, but not for injury claims in cases of car collisions. In some other jurisdictions, insurers use inter-company "settlement" charts for handling claims against each other; these are not legally binding on the policyholder, however.

The circumstances of a collision may show that more than one driver was negligent. Each driver's insurance company may then become involved in the settlement based on the degree of responsibility attributed to each person. If there is a dispute about responsibility, court action may be required to resolve it.

Financial responsibility

Financial responsibility, in the context of car insurance, means you have the financial backing needed to pay for damages you cause during an accident. Buying car insurance with the necessary liability coverage is the most common way you can demonstrate your financial responsibility to your province.

First party*

The person who is insured on the insurance policy. He or she is also the "policyholder" or "insured." There may be other people, named or unnamed, who are covered as well.

Fraudulent misrepresentation**

A false statement made knowing it to be false and intending another to act on it to his detriment, or made carelessly or recklessly without regard to whether it is true or false.

In insurance it is most frequently found in the intentional misrepresentation of a risk to obtain insurance or in proof of loss after the loss occurs.

Full coverage auto insurance

Usually implies that the policy has more than just liability coverage. Though there's really no such thing as "full coverage" when it comes to car insurance, people often use this term to describe how much auto insurance coverage they have.

See also: comprehensive coverage

Funeral cost benefits

Funeral cost benefits are included in your accident benefits coverage. If a covered individual dies from accident-related injuries, this coverage pays for funeral expenses (up to the limit provided by your policy), regardless of who was at fault in the accident.


Garaging location

Where an insured car is parked most of the time. The postal code of your primary residence usually indicates your specific garaging location. Your garaging location may affect your car insurance rates, so notify your insurance company if you normally keep your car somewhere other than your home address.

General damages**

It is applied in a third party injury claim. Damages awarded by a court of law for pain and suffering of an individual.

Good faith

Most ordinary contracts are good faith contracts. Insurance contracts are agreements made in the utmost good faith. This implies a standard of honesty greater than that usually required in most ordinary commercial contracts.


High-risk automobile insurance market*

Consumers with a poor driving record (e.g., multiple driving infractions, demerit points or criminal convictions involving driving), or no driving record at all (i.e., new drivers), may, in many cases, be insured by insurance companies that specialize in drivers who are high risk.

Highway Traffic Act**

The body or system of laws which govern the obligations of the provincial governments and users of roads. A breach or conviction of any of these laws may be an offence but does not of itself impose legal liability, but it may be relied upon in any proceeding to establish or negate any liability.

Hit and run accident**

Collision between motor vehicle and/or a motor vehicle and another object and/or a motor vehicle and a pedestrian where a driver leaves the scene of the accident without identifying him/herself. This is an offence under the Highway Traffic Act.

Hybrid electric vehicles

Hybrid electric vehicles (also known as HEVs) are powered by a combination of batteries and fuel. By using less gas, HEVs emit fewer pollutants and receive better gas mileage than standard vehicles.


Income replacement

Income replacement offers partial financial protection if you're unable to work due to accident-related injuries. It helps you recover portions of your lost salary and other expenses you may incur as you try to return to work.


To compensate the insured person for a loss, in whole or in part, by payment, repair, or replacement.


The sum that your insurer will pay to you or others after an accident that results in damage to property or people. The idea is that it'll restore you — or rather your finances — to their pre-loss condition.


An inspection (also known as a vehicle inspection, safety inspection, or annual inspection) is a practice in which trained professionals determine a vehicle's insurability and road-use legality.

The 2 main factors checked during inspections are vehicle safety and emissions. Provincial laws dictate the required frequency of vehicle inspection, but the most common reasons for the procedure include insurance applications, car accidents, and vehicle registrations.

See also: registration

Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC)*

The national trade association for the companies that insure the homes, cars and businesses of Canadians. IBC’s membership includes the companies that provide nearly 95 percent of the home, car and business insurance sold in Canada. IBC works on behalf of member companies to advocate for public policies that create and maintain a healthy insurance marketplace that serves insurers and consumers. IBC facilitates communications and seeks consensus among its members and, when possible, seeks out and implements solutions to common insurance concerns.

Insurance Institute of Canada (I.I.C.)*

The professional education arm of the general insurance industry in Canada.

Insurance claim report

Insurance claim reports provide details about auto insurance claims you or other insured drivers on your policy have filed with insurance companies. These reports are provided by independent consumer reporting agencies that collect car insurance claim information from a variety of insurance companies.

Insurance fraud

Any act that knowingly defrauds an insurance company to obtain payment. Fraud can take on many forms, ranging from overinflated towing bills to windshield repair fraud, and from staged accidents to exaggerated claims of stolen property or damages.

Insurance fraud is a leading cause of today's rising insurance costs, and all provinces enforce strict laws against this form of crime.

See also: claim, car insurance, insurance claim report

Insurance score

Insurance scores, which are calculated by Esurance, are based on analytical models that objectively measure the relative likelihood of future insurance losses based on aspects of your credit history. The analyses of their significance are provided by independent consumer reporting agencies. Insurance scores can only be used in the underwriting process in certain provinces and with consumer permission.


An individual or company covered by a car insurance policy.


Lapsed coverage

Lapsed coverage occurs when an individual is without an active car insurance policy (assuming they had coverage before). A lapse in your coverage could indicate a higher level of risk for insurers and can result in higher premiums in the future.

Driving without at least the basic liability coverage is illegal in all provinces and can saddle you with steep fines and penalties.

See also: continuously insured

Learner's permit

A learner’s permit (also known as a learner’s licence, Class 7 licence in Alberta, and G1 licence in Ontario) is a document issued by your province allowing a new driver to begin driving. Generally, laws require that the holder of a learner’s permit be accompanied by a licensed adult driver when operating a motor vehicle.


For auto insurance purposes, a lessee is anyone who is leasing a vehicle. A lease is a contract that grants the lessee exclusive use of the vehicle for a specified period provided he or she makes the agreed-upon payments.


The person or company who is giving the lease.

Letter of experience

Documentation provided by an insurer verifying the length of time a policyholder had or has had insurance with the company and detailing their claim history during that time. It can also show the length of time a customer was insured before switching companies or cancelling a policy.

See also: car insurance


Liability broadly means legal responsibility. If you run a stop sign and hit another car, you may be found liable for the damages to the other driver's car and serious injuries to the people in that car. Liability insurance is the coverage that kicks in to help pay for damages owed in these situations.

Liability card

This contains an auto insurance policy's pertinent information — including name(s) and address(es) of policyholder(s); policy number, year, make, model, and VIN of each insured vehicle; the effective date of the policy; and the name and contact information of the insurance company.

In most provinces, you'll typically need to show a police officer your liability card if you're stopped.

Liability insurance

Liability insurance (or third-party liability insurance) protects you from having to deplete your personal assets to pay for damages arising from a car accident that you’re required by law to pay.

Liability limits*

The amount or amounts beyond which an insurance company does not protect a person insured for liability coverage. For example, a common liability limit for an auto insurance policy is $1 million. If a policyholder is successfully sued for more than $1 million, the balance of the judgment would be paid out of the policyholder’s pocket.

Limitation period*

The period of time in which a claim may be brought by the policyholder.

Limited glass endorsement

By choosing a limited glass endorsement from Esurance, you could lower your premium by agreeing to pay your own glass-damage costs if your windows or windshield are chipped by a rock. Esurance will still handle other glass-damage risks, such as vandalism or fire.


The maximum amount an insurance company will pay, per coverage, for a covered loss. Though you can choose your limits for certain coverages, all provinces require you to buy certain minimum levels of car insurance coverage.


Another word often used for “claim.” It refers to an amount owed by your insurer because a covered incident has occurred.

Loss of use endorsement

This endorsement helps cover the cost of a rental car, taxis, or public transportation while your personal vehicle is getting repaired for a covered loss of while a claim for total theft is being settled.


Material fact

Circumstances that, if known, could influence the underwriting process and an insurer’s decision to accept or refuse an application, or charge a higher rate. Examples could be an impaired driving conviction or addition of a teen driver.

Material misrepresentation

Lying about material facts when you fill out a car insurance application. This is usually done to keep insurers from knowing information that could increase your rates. It can result in a loss of coverage.

Motor Vehicle Report

A Motor Vehicle Report (also known as an MVR or driving record) is an individual's documented history regarding motor vehicle operation.

Your province’s government receives a record of any moving violations and criminal infractions, at-fault car accidents, not-at-fault car accidents, tickets, and licence suspensions. Convictions and licence suspensions can result in higher car insurance premiums or insurance coverage restrictions.

Moving violation

Any unlawful driving-related act committed while a vehicle is in motion. Common examples of moving violations include speeding, improper signalling, following too closely, and running a stop sign or red light.


Named insured*

The person in whose name the policy is issued. Technically, he or she would be the first party to the contract, the second party being the insurance company that issues the policy.

No-fault insurance

In a pure no-fault system, policyholders file a claim with their own insurer regardless of who is at-fault for the accident. Some provinces, like Ontario, use a partial no-fault system in which drivers go through their own insurer initially, but may be allowed to sue the at-fault party if the damages reach a high enough level. In Alberta, no-fault is in place for accident benefits coverage, but the traditional tort system applies to bodily injury and property damage liability.


Similar to material misrepresentation, non-disclosure is failing to include certain material facts that your insurer would factor in when creating your policy.

Notice of loss*

Notice detailing the losses and the circumstances surrounding how they occurred. Required by insurance companies immediately after an accident or other loss.


Occasional operator

An insured driver who isn't a car's primary driver.

Online insurance

See: direct auto insurance.

Original equipment manufacturer

Original equipment manufacturer (also known as OEM) refers to replacement vehicle parts made by the same manufacturer that produced the car's original part. For instance, if your bumper needs to be replaced, and you want to use OEM parts, then your repair shop will need to find a bumper made by the same manufacturer that produced your car's original one.

See also: aftermarket parts

Out-of-pocket expenses

What you pay in addition to what your car insurer pays when you file a claim.

These are typically the result of the deductibles and coverage limits you choose. For example, if you carry a $200,000 liability coverage limit and get into an at-fault accident that causes $210,000 worth of damage, you may incur out-of-pocket expenses of $10,000.

Or if you have a $500 deductible on your collision coverage and need $5,000 worth of repairs, your insurer would provide $4,500.

See also: deductible


Pain and suffering*

A non-economic loss for which recovery may be available against the wrongdoer in a lawsuit.

Passive alarm

Car alarm that is automatically activated and emits warning sounds when someone tries to get into your car. Once the passive alarm has been triggered, the system disables the automobile's starter, ignition system, and/or fuel circuit.

Permissive use

Means you grant someone permission to drive your vehicle. Generally, if someone gets into an accident while driving your car with your permission, your insurance provides the same coverage as when you're behind the wheel.

See also: excluded driver

Physical damage coverage

Physical damage coverage (also known as property damage coverage) is a form of car insurance that covers the policyholder's vehicle.

Pleasure use

Pleasure use, in the context of car insurance, means that you typically drive your car for fun or errands, with no regular commuting or commercial use.


The contract that states what your auto insurance coverage includes (coverages, limits, and deductibles), as well as your annual premium. Typically includes a declarations page, a list of exclusions, and other terms and conditions of your coverage.

See also: car insurance, declarations page

Policy expiration date

The date your insurance coverage ends if your policy isn't renewed. The expiration date can be found on the policy’s declarations page, on your liability card, or on a recent car insurance renewal notice.

See also: declarations page

Policy term

The length of time an auto insurance policy is valid.


The amount you pay for your insurance policy. Your premium can depend on many factors, including your driving record, the make and model of your car, your postal code, your age and gender, your claims history, and, in certain provinces, your credit-based insurance score.

Primary residence

The home address and postal code you list on your policy as your place of residence for the duration of your policy term. Your primary residence is usually the same as your garaging location, unless you keep your car elsewhere.

See also: car insurance, garaging location

Principal operator

The person named on a car insurance policy who drives a specific car most frequently.

Private passenger vehicle*

A vehicle not used as a commercial vehicle. For example, if a small van is used as a family vehicle, it is considered a private passenger vehicle. However, if this same van is used as a full-time delivery vehicle, it is considered a commercial vehicle.

Proof of insurance

Proof of insurance is any legal, signed document provided by your insurance company that shows the effective date of your active insurance policy.

Proof of loss*

A formal statement made by a policyholder to the insurance company regarding a claim, specifying its circumstances and the amount of loss, especially in property insurance.

Property damage liability insurance

The part of your liability coverage that would go toward repairing or replacing others’ damaged property if you are at-fault in an accident.



An estimate of your insurance premium provided by an insurance agent, licensed insurance sales representative, or online engine. To receive the most accurate quote, provide honest, accurate information regarding your car, driving record, years of driving experience, claims history, insurance history, and annual kilometres driven.

See also: insurance claim report, Motor Vehicle Report



A government-regulated amount that insurers use to determine what your premium will be.

Red Book*

Canadian publication which lists the values of automobiles, including their wholesale and average retail price, used as a guide by automobile dealers, claims adjusters etc., to establish market value of used automobiles. American version of this publication is called a "Blue Book".


Registration (also known as vehicle registration) is a mandatory practice in which vehicle owners officially document their vehicles with a governing agency. A car owner may not legally drive his or her vehicle without proper registration.

See also: inspection


The federal, provincial or territorial government agency responsible for the control and regulation of the insurance industry under its jurisdiction.

Renewal letter

A policy renewal letter is a form that an insurer sends, by mail or electronically, to a policyholder just before the current policy term expires and the next one begins. A renewal letter also states the premium for the upcoming term.

See also: binder

Replacement cost

Amount of money necessary to replace damaged, destroyed, or stolen property with a new item, without including depreciation. By contrast, actual cash value pays an amount equal to the depreciated worth of property, regardless of how much it might cost to replace it.

Residual market*

A system through which insurance is made available to customers that represent unusually high risks. This insurance is provided through Facility Association.



On paying for a total loss of property, an insurance company takes title to what remains of or what is recovered of the property. This is a right of salvage.

Short rate cancellation**

The cancellation by the insured of a policy before its natural expiration; the insurer pays a return premium which is less than the proportionate part that remains unearned.

Steering restraint

A durable collar or shield fitted to the upper and lower casing of your car's steering column. The collar makes it harder for potential thieves to access, or "hot-wire," your car's ignition system.

See also: antitheft recovery system


Once a company has paid a loss for which someone other than the policyholder is responsible, it may have the right to recover this loss from the guilty party. This right is called subrogation.


Temporary auto insurance

Temporary auto insurance (also known as short-term auto insurance) is coverage that can be bought for a short period of time. For instance, if you get rental car insurance because you don't have your own coverage, that's considered temporary car insurance.

See also: continuously insured, effective date, policy expiration date

Third party

Anyone with whom you are involved in an accident. For example, if you get into an accident with another driver, the other driver would be legally considered the third party.

Third-party liability coverage

Required for all Canadian drivers, third-party liability helps cover others' property damage and injury costs for which you are legally responsible after causing an accident. The minimum limit you must carry is $200,000 in many areas (Québec has $50,000 minimum and Nova Scotia $500,000).

Tort law

A tort is a civil wrong in which a person's behaviour has unfairly caused someone else to suffer loss or harm. Tort law, therefore, allows someone who is harmed to recover their losses.

Most provinces allow their drivers to purchase car insurance under a tort-law system, meaning, to varying degrees, they may have the right to sue for compensation for bodily injuries, including pain and suffering that stems from a car accident.

Total loss

If the cost to repair a wrecked car is more than 75 percent of its actual cash value at the time of loss, the vehicle could be deemed a total loss. When this happens, the insurance company generally pays the policyholder a monetary amount that equals the total value of the damaged property before the accident, as determined by an adjuster.

See also: body shop, claim, adjuster


Uninsured motorist coverage

If you’re hit by an uninsured driver, this coverage helps pay your injury or property damage costs.

Underinsured motorist coverage*

A form of insurance that pays for the bodily injury or property damage caused by the owner or operator of an inadequately insured automobile.


An underwriter assesses submitted insurance applications and determines whether to provide coverage and, if so, at what price and under what terms.

See also: agent, broker, actuary

Underwriting rules*

The rules used by insurance companies to assess the risk they are taking on by insuring a particular customer. These rules are set individually by insurance companies.

Utmost good faith**

A phrase in a legal document calling for the highest standards of integrity on the part of the insured and the insurer.


Vehicle history report

Contains records associated with an automobile's Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). This information can include past owners, accidents, total loss declarations, repairs, and other facts.

See also: depreciation, Vehicle Identification Number

Vehicle Identification Number

The Vehicle Identification Number (also known as the VIN) is the unique 17-digit number found on each car. The VIN contains the vehicle's serial number, as well as abbreviations for the make, model, and year.

Your VIN appears on your vehicle registration card. It's also engraved on your car, near the base of the windshield on the driver's side dashboard and/or on the edge of the driver's side door.

Though you don't need to enter your VIN when you get a car insurance quote from Esurance, you will need to provide your car's VIN when you buy your car insurance policy.

Vehicle use

How the car is typically used. Auto insurance companies usually classify primary use as commuting, commercial, or pleasure use.

Verbal threshold

The degree of severity at which car accident injuries or pain and suffering merit legal intervention. In other words, to be able to sue for compensation, your bodily injuries or pain and suffering must be serious enough to meet a government-legislated verbal threshold. Verbal thresholds differ depending on where you live.

See also: no-fault insurance


1) Invalid, not legally binding.

2) An insurance contract that is prohibited by law and thus cannot be held to be a valid contract.


Young driver

A young driver is typically a licensed driver under the age of 25. Because of their inexperience, young drivers may pay more for car insurance than more experienced drivers.

*Definition courtesy of the Insurance Bureau of Canada
**Definition courtesy of the Insurance Institute of Canada