What Is a DEC Page?
An insurance policy shifts stated risks from a person or business to an insurance company. Because insurance policies can easily consist of dozens of pages of legal specification, insurance companies developed "Declaration Pages", commonly called a "DEC Page" (even if it consists of more than one page) to highlight the policy features. You can think of a declaration page as an executive summary of coverage.
It's a mistake to believe that an insurance policy's DEC page is the policy and describes in any kind of detail what is and is not covered within the terms of the insurance contract. In fact, a DEC Page is one of four parts of every contract, and arguably one of the least important from a "am I covered?" point of view. It's a place to begin checking what coverages are included, and never the end.
The four primary sections of most insurance policies include:
- The aforementioned DEC Page
- The Insuring Agreement
- Policy Exclusions
- Conditions that effectively limit when a policy is in force and when it isn't
While it may sound as if the DEC Page may not hold much value, it allows the insured (person protected by the policy and usually the purchaser) to quickly make sure all the basics are correct. A DEC Page also allows others to see what type of coverage the insured has. For example, a DEC Page that describes a general liability policy will allow an interested third party know that you have liability coverage. It won't let the third party necessarily know EXACTLY what coverage is there, but at least they'll know you have some coverage (and will need to dig deeper to get details). If you're reviewing another's DEC Page to make sure the party you're contracting with has insurance coverage, you can tell they have "some" coverage, but you won't know exactly "what" coverage the other party has.
The DEC Page will typically disclose the following:
- The Insured's Name (if this is incorrect, for example, a spelling error or it's in a person's name and it should be in a company's name -or vise-versa- get it corrected right away)
- The insured's address or addresses. Each address should be listed if more than one applies
- The amount of coverage. Often this is broken into several parts including an event limit, the type of event claim, an aggregate limit, and other types of coverage with limits. Again, this is an overview and to really know what's covered and what's not, a full policy review is required.
- The effective date coverage begins and ends. It's important to note that most policies can be canceled for a variety of reasons before the end date. This includes lack of payment, cancelation requests, and even (although rare) insolvency of the insurance company. In other words, just because a DEC Page has a future ending date doesn't mean the policy is in force, or will remain in force until the end date. This is an important aspect of knowing who you do business with.
- Deductibles for any given type of claim. Sometimes the deductibles are the same for everything, but they don't have to be.
- Notice of scheduling or perhaps the schedule itself. A schedule or lists of covered property let's the insured know that certain property is specified. Not having property itemized doesn't necessarily mean it isn't covered (you have to dig deeper to find out), but having an item scheduled indicates it (should) be covered or is at least addressed to remove ambiguity.
As you can see, a DEC Page is useful, can in order to truly understand what a policy covers and doesn't cover, you'll want to examine the entire policy from start to finish. Obviously, that's a considerable task for anyone, including insurance agents (insider's secret – most agents don't read an entire policy unless they specialize in the type of insurance in question. So if you ask a detailed question, you can expect the agent to read the policy to confirm one way or another). What that means is for most people other than perhaps lawyers, having a experienced insurance agent answer your question(s) is likely much more advantageous over trying to figure it out yourself.