Auto Insurance Facts

Insurance can be a complicated topic at times. Your first step is to be an informed shopper.  The Pennsylvania Insurance Department developed this information to give you points to consider when shopping for an insurance policy.  Tips listed here are examples of things to keep in mind while making comparisons.

This information may not answer all your questions, so the Pennsylvania Insurance Department produces a variety of brochures that are specific to various insurance products, such as automobile, homeowners, life, medicare supplement and long-term care insurance to name a few. To obtain a copy, please contact the Department on our toll-free automated Consumer Line at 
1-877-881-6388, or visit their website at

Insurance Regulations

Pennsylvania law does not require companies to extend a grace period for premium payments.  If payment is not received by the due date, the company is permitted to cancel for non-payment of the premium.

When replacing your automobile policy with another company, be aware that the new company has 60 days to underwrite (examine, accept or reject) your application. This may include securing motor vehicle, credit and claim history reports, as well as verification of other information provided on the application. Your policy can be canceled during the first 60 days for any adverse information, such as accidents, violations suspensions or prior claims.

Consumers unable to obtain automobile insurance coverage may do so be seeking coverage through the Pennsylvania Assigned Risk Plan.  This coverage is available through licensed insurance agents or brokers certified by the Plan.

If the vehicle you own has been damaged, the decision of where the vehicle is to be repaired is yours.   No insurer, adjuster, appraiser or agent shall require that repairs be made at a specific repair facility.

Warranties, motor clubs, etc. do not have to be purchased as part of your policy.

General Insurance Tips

Shop around! Ask questions! Compare prices!  Rates and benefits vary widely.  Be certain you are comparing the same coverage. A policy may cost less, but provide few benefits.

Review information about the company’s financial strength. This information, prepared by various rating services, may be available in your public library.

Never deal with a salesperson who is “just passing through”. He or she may not be available to provide service when you need it.

Be sure to obtain the agent’s name, address and phone number.  Be wary of an agent who refuses to give their name and company affiliation or leave a business card.

Ask about the agent’s qualifications, experience and education in insurance.

Be alert when dealing with insurance agents of companies that state or imply they are sanctioned by the government, labor groups, teacher groups or other professional organizations.

Never let emotion influence your purchase.

Don’t feel pressured into making a decision on the spot. Any insurance policy available today will still be available tomorrow.

Do not hesitate to tell an insurance agent to leave your home immediately.

Never be “stampeded” or frightened into buying coverage you may not need.

Know what insurance benefits you already have before you consider buying additional policies.

Avoid duplication. You may have the same coverage in a current policy as those being presented to you in a new policy.

If you are considering replacing your current policy with a new one, be sure to understand the costs, benefits and conditions associated with each policy, as well as risks associated with a change.

Provide accurate and complete information on an insurance application to avoid problems later.  Read and understand what you are signing.   When answering questions on an application, your answers should be accurate, truthful, and recorded as you stated.  You are responsible for information that bears your signature.  Your policy could be declared void if information is misrepresented.  Errors and omissions can lead to higher premiums or coverage terminations.

Do no assume that the policy premium quoted will be the actual premium of the policy, or that the policy will even be approved for coverage. Premium quotations are based on the information provided at the time.  If the insurance company finds any of the information provided to be incorrect or develops some additional information, the original premium quoted may change or the company may even refuse to issue a policy.

When changing insurance companies, do not cancel your existing insurance policy until you are assured of the price and that you have been accepted by the new insurance company.

Never pay cash.  Payment by check provides proof of payment and allows you to stop payment if necessary.  Always make the check payable to the insurance company. Avoid making the check payable to the agent.

Never sign an application for any type of insurance until you read and verify the accuracy of the information.

Make sure you read and understand what you are signing.  When answering questions on an application for insurance, your answers should be accurate, truthful and recorded as you stated. You are responsible for information that bears your signature.  Your policy could be declared void if information is misrepresented.

When you receive your policy, review the policy’s coverage, including the exclusions, with your agent.

If you are interested in reducing your premium, consider selecting a higher deductible.  The deductible is the amount you must pay out-of-pocket before the insurance company pays the remainder of the claim. Be sure that you understand how your deductible is defined (per occurrence or illness, per individual or family).

You may contact the Insurance Department’s toll-free automated Consumer Line at 1-877-881-6388 or visit the website at to verify licensing status of a company.

Explore premium payment options. Many companies, as well as the Pennsylvania Assigned Risk Plan, offer the convenience of installment payments for nominal administrative fees.  Premium payments also may be financed.  When selecting this option, carefully review the premium finance contract.

If you have questions or problems concerning your insurance, please call your agent. For unresolved problems or questions, contact the Pennsylvania Insurance Department’s toll-free automated Consumer Line at 
Consumers may visit their website at, or any of the 4 regional offices listed below:

Room 1321 Strawberry Square
Third and Walnut Streets
Harrisburg, PA 17120
(717) 787-2317
Fax (717)787-8585
TTY/TDD (717)783-3898

Room 304 State Office Building
300 Liberty Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15222 
(412) 565-5020
Fax (412)565-7648
TTY/TDD (412)565-2376

1400 Spring Garden Street
Room 1701 State Office Building
Philadelphia, PA 19130
Fax (215) 560-2648
TTY/TDD (215) 560-2471

1001 State Street
Room 808 Renaissance Center
Erie, PA 16501
(814) 871-4466
Fax (814) 871-4888 (814) 871-4466
TTY/TDD (814)871-4897