What you need to know when purchasing your Pennsylvania Auto Insurance Policy.
Under Pennsylvania Law and Regulations every insurer in Pennsylvania must make you aware of the various insurance coverages that you can purchase. Perhaps the most important decision you will make is what insurance to purchase. The first type of coverage that is mandatory in Pennsylvania is liability coverage. That is coverage that is available if you injure someone else or their property. Currently in Pennsylvania the mandatory minimum limit is $15,000.00 for damage or injury to one person and $30,000.00 for damage or injury to multiple persons. Typically, this is far too small an amount to properly cover you. Certainly, we would recommend that if possible you increase that limit to a higher amount to protect you in the event that you injure someone else and also since it allows you to purchase more coverage to protect your family and yourself. The cost of increased coverage can be quite minimal so check with your agent.
Full Tort v. Limited Tort
The second option that you have in Pennsylvania is whether to elect limited tort coverage or full tort coverage. If you elect to choose limited tort coverage for a modest reduction in your insurance premium, you give up substantial rights. If you have elected limited tort coverage then you and your family members may only recover for your injuries caused by another person if you are able to show that you have suffered a "serious injury." This means that an accident can be completely someone else’s fault, you can be injured and still not recover one penny. Although the courts continue to sort out exactly what injuries qualify as serious, there have been courts that have held that persons suffering severe fractures and serious back injuries do not qualify as serious and these injured people were then unable to recover anything for the pain and suffering they endured. In short, for just a few dollars more the full tort option is the clear choice to properly protect you and your family so, if possible, avoid limited tort at all costs.
Under the full tort option you do not give up any of your rights to recover for injuries caused to you or a family member by someone else. Regardless of the severity of your injuries you are entitled to recover for any injuries caused. Needless to say, we would strongly urge you to purchase full tort coverage. The money you save by purchasing limited tort coverage is quite small for the rights that you give up and again, we would urge you to contact your agent to see if you are saving enough money to give up this right.
Uninsured (UM)/Underinsured Motorist (UIM) Coverage
Finally, you will also be offered the opportunity to purchase uninsured (UM) and underinsured (UIM) coverage. For you personally, these can be the most important coverages available. You are entitled to purchase both coverages in an amount equal to your liability coverage. If you purchase $100,000.00 in liability coverage then you may also purchase uninsured coverage and underinsured coverage in the amount of $100,000.00. If you are then injured by a driver who does not have insurance (a common occurrence in this area) you are entitled to recover under your uninsured motorist coverage. If you are injured by a driver who has purchased less insurance than you, you may recover for your injuries up to the limit of the underinsured coverage that you purchased. With most people purchasing minimum coverage in this area, again the best way to protect you and your family is to purchase as much underinsured coverage as possible. Again, the cost of this coverage is quite minor.
Another option you must be offered is called stacking. If you have more than one vehicle on your policy, stacking allows you multiply your coverages by the total number of vehicles on your policy, which can double, triple or quadruple your available coverage. For example, if you and your spouse each own a vehicle and have selected stacking, you coverages double because your policy adds the two vehicles together. This is a very inexpensive way to get more out of your policy.
Let Us Help
If you have any questions about which coverage to purchase feel free to consult with your insurance agent or call our office at 1-800-524-9481 and we would be happy to give you more information free of charge.
We are here to help so, if you have questions or have a possible case, please call us at either of the numbers listed below. Or, complete the Contact Us form with information about your claim.
Toll free: 800-524-9481
1616 West State Street
P.O. Box 648
Olean, NY 14760