Purchasing Automobile Insurance in Pennsylvania – A Guide to Coverage
While the selection of automobile insurance options can be confusing, follow these five guidelines to ensure that you and your family are properly protected.
1. Do Select the “Full Tort” Option and not the “Limited Tort” Option
For a modest reduction in premiums, insurance companies and their agents will attempt to sell you a policy providing for the limited tort option. This option prevents you and your family from making a claim for personal injuries suffered in a car accident. There are limited exceptions, such as if you sustain a catastrophic injury, are occupying a commercially owned vehicle, are struck by a driver convicted of driving under the influence at the time of the accident, or the at-fault driver’s vehicle is registered in another state. Absent those circumstances, you are PROHIBITED from making a claim for personal injuries against the driver that caused the accident. This rule applies even if you are a passenger in someone else’s vehicle. The rule also applies to your spouse and children that live with you. NEVER select the limited tort option and give up the right to make a claim for damages to which you and members of your family are entitled. ALWAYS select the full tort option and keep your non-economic right to make an injury claim if you are hurt in an accident.
2. Do obtain Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage
This inexpensive coverages applies when you, or members of your family that live with you are injured by an at fault driver who either does not have automobile insurance or does not have sufficient automobile insurance to compensate you or your family for injuries. It is an unfortunate fact that many people operating motor vehicles violate Pennsylvania law buy not carrying any insurance. Additionally, many people only carry the minimum amount of motor vehicle insurance required in Pennsylvania ($15,000.00). There are countless injuries and situations where your damages may be greatly in excess of $15,000.00. Uninsured/underinsured is probably the most important insurance you can purchase, as it directly benefits you and your family if injured by an uninsured motorist or a motorist that can only pay damages up to $15,000.00. NEVER reject uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. ALWAYS purchase uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage to protect those you love.
3. Do not allow your Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage to be less than your liability coverage.
As explained above, uninsured/underinsured coverage can be the most important coverage provided under your automobile policy to protect you and your family when injured by a negligent driver. Liability coverage pays someone else that is injured through your negligence. Under Pennsylvania law, your policy cannot provide a higher limit for uninsured/underinsured coverage than liability coverage. However, our law does allow you to purchase lower limits of uninsured/underinsured coverage than liability coverage. You would literally save only pennies in electing lower uninsured/underinsured limits. NEVER elect lower uninsured/underinsured limits as this would reduce the available insurance benefits that directly protect you and your loved ones. ALWAYS purchase uninsured/underinsured coverage in an amount equal to the liability coverage provided under your policy.
4. Do select “Stacked” Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Uninsured/Underinsured is the only coverage that can be increased based upon the number of vehicles that are insured under your policy. For example, if you have three (3) vehicles in your household and each vehicle is insured for $50,000.00 in uninsured/underinsured coverage, stacked coverage would provide $150,000.00 in uninsured/underinsured coverage. Stacking can also be important where more than one policy may apply. Stacked insurance coverage is an inexpensive, optional feature offered when you purchase your policy. NEVER reject stacked uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. ALWAYS purchase stacked uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage even if you have only one vehicle in your household, so that the maximum benefit is available if you or a loved one is injured.
5.Do make certain that all vehicles in your household are insured under the same insurance policy.
Some insurance companies will suggest that it is beneficial to have your vehicles
insured under separate policies, even with the same company. Only the insurance company benefits when you purchase more than one policy, not you. This is because most policies exclude a vehicle from uninsured/underinsured coverage that is not an insured vehicle under that specific policy. It is sometimes referred to as the “household exclusion”. The result is that even though you may have selected stacked uninsured/underinsured coverage, the separate policy give the insurance company a basis to deny stacked overage, thereby taking away important coverage that directly benefits you and your family. NEVER permit anyone to talk you into purchasing separate policies for vehicles in your household. ALWAYS insure all vehicles in your household under the same policy.
FOLLOW these simple rules in purchasing or renewing your automobile insurance policy to be sure that the maximum benefits purchased are available if you or your loved ones suffer injury in a motor vehicle accident.