Pennsylvania Car Insurance Requirements
It’s always good to review your insurance coverage at the beginning of each year. Things change; insurance companies often send notices throughout the year that are hard to read and easy to ignore. You may think you are covered for an accident or property damage only to find out too late that you are not because of one of these changes. What follows are tips and things you should watch for as you examine your auto and homeowner’s policies.
Required Car Insurance Coverage
First, you should make sure that your auto insurance coverage meets the minimum requirements in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. You must have:
- $5,000 minimum for medical bills for yourself and any others covered by your policy
- $15,000/$30,000 for anyone you injured in an accident. The $15,000 covers injuries to one person and the $30,000 is the total available for one accident.
- The minimum required for property damage is $5,000. If you damage someone else’s vehicle in an accident that was your fault, this coverage pays for the damage.
These are the bare minimum insurance requirements for keeping a car on the road in Pennsylvania. Carrying only this minimum leaves a vehicle owner open to significant risk. You can also purchase optional coverage, described below, which can better protect you.
Optional Coverage Available in Pennsylvania That We Believe is a MUST!!
Second, you should consider having some of thse optional coverages if you possibly can. Otherwise, you may be out of luck in a serious accident. These include:
- Underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage. This kicks in if you are injured by an at-fault driver who does not have enough insurance, or any insurance at all to pay your bills, pain and suffering and other losses and damages after an accident. For example, if you are seriously injured by an at-fault driver who has the minimum liability insurance – $15,000/$30,000 – your medical bills will probably exceed $15,000. Underinsured/Uninsured Motorist coverage can protect you and pay your damages that exceed the limit of the at-fault driver’s insurance.
- Stacking uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. This option allows you to increase the amount of coverage on such policies by the number of vehicles on the policy. You may also set up this type of insurance to cover you under multiple policies if you have separate policies for different vehicles.
- Collision insurance. This coverage pays to repair damage to your vehicle caused by an accident. If you have a car loan, you will probably be required to carry this type of policy by the bank or lender.
- Comprehensive insurance. This type of coverage pays for damage to your car caused by something other than a vehicle accident. Typical coverages include fire, theft, flood, vandalism or hitting a deer or other animal. Like collision insurance, comprehensive coverage is usually required by lenders.
These optional coverages are the most important to consider when reviewing your policy. Insurance companies also provide coverage for funeral benefits, income loss, rental reimbursement, towing, accidental death and extraordinary medical benefits. The last type of coverage insures you up to $1 million after the first $100,000. Another coverage possibility is gap coverage, which pays the difference between the insurer’s payment and the balance of the car loan on a total-loss vehicle. This is usually available for new cars only.
Full Tort Versus Limited Tort Insurance
Limited Tort means that you can sue for limited recovery after an accident. This means that, while you can sue the at-fault driver for medical bills, you cannot seek payment for pain and suffering unless you have sustained a serious injury. This adds a hurdle for you to overcome in order to be properly compensated for your pain, suffering and disruption in your life-activities following an accident. We do not recommend electing the limited tort option of automobile insurance.
Full Tort coverage means, beyond your medical bills, you can seek compensation for your pain and suffering. It may cost slightly more on your monthly premium, but it enables you to recover the money you need if you’re involved in an accident. Additional compensation can help you get your life back on track and cover any unexpected costs that arise after an accident.
It’s important to understand that Full Tort is one of the best forms of protection for your future. If you’re in one serious accident, you’ll more than make up for what you’ve paid each month. Remember, electing the Full Tort option protects you! We highly recommend that you elect Full Tort coverage for you and your loved ones. And remember, although often used interchangeably with the phrase Full Coverage which agents use to denote all available coverages for property damage to your car, Full Tort coverage protects you and your family from damages caused to your body. Full Coverage does not equal Full Tort. You must make a separate and important selection to get Full Tort.
Now Is a Good Time to Review Your Insurance
Although the minimum insurance coverage required in Pennsylvania is one of the lowest in the country, insurance premiums in Philadelphia and the surrounding area are still 10 percent higher than the average throughout the U.S. This means that drivers should review their insurance policies carefully to make sure they are getting a good deal while protecting themselves against expenses resulting from a car accident. Remember: Once you have an accident, it’s too late to change anything.