Understanding Car Insurance – Volume 1: Limited Tort vs. Full Tort

How well do you understand the car insurance you rely on to protect you and your family? This is the first in a series of articles aimed at helping you to determine if you’re really protected by your insurance policy.

Think back to when you purchased auto insurance. Maybe you made the decision after seeing an advertisement from an insurance carrier claiming it could offer you significant savings. Maybe you bought your policy online or through an insurance agent you trust.

No matter how you came to your current auto coverage, you perhaps assume you have good coverage that can protect you in the event of a tragic accident. Perhaps you were even told that your policy provides “full coverage.”

Ever taken a look at the terms and numbers on the declaration page of your insurance policy?

It’s important for you to know what they mean and how they impact your ability to gain restitution after a car accident.

What is Limited Tort?

Limited tort and full tort are auto insurance terms unique to Pennsylvania. No other states use this terminology, but they are words every Pennsylvania driver should understand.

Drivers are often encouraged by their insurance provider to take limited tort coverage because it results in a lower premium. However, this election benefits the insurance company much more than the driver, because insurance companies end up paying far less in claims when an injured person has limited tort coverage.

Under the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law (MVFRL), drivers are required to choose between limited tort and full tort coverage. Full tort coverage is the default selection. To select limited tort coverage, drivers must sign paperwork for their insurance company stating that they understand the difference between the two types of coverage and have opted for limited tort.

Under Pennsylvania law, a person who is injured in a car accident by another driver’s negligence can only collect damages for pain and suffering if they elected full tort insurance coverage on their own auto policy. The policy of the at-fault driver does not matter in this area. If the injured person has limited tort coverage, that person can only collect for economic damages (reimbursement of medical bills and provable lost wages, for example).

There are certain exceptions to the prohibition on recovering for pain and suffering under a limited tort policy. If you suffer a “serious injury,” you can be deemed to be a full tort plaintiff. This can also be the case If the driver who hit you was impaired by drugs or alcohol, the vehicle that caused the accident was registered out of state, or if the driver who hits you was uninsured.

However, disputes concerning whether an individual with limited tort coverage is entitled to be treated as a full tort claimant can be contentious and take a long time to resolve.

Full tort coverage is generally not much more expensive and has a huge benefit to the insured in the event of a collision. Imagine suffering a back injury that causes nagging pain for months and not being able to collect any money for what you have gone through.

Be smart, and protect yourself and your family with full tort coverage.

If you have been involved in a car accident or have questions about limited tort and full tort coverage, call Jack Goodrich and Associates today at 412-261-GOOD (412-261-4663). We offer a no-cost initial consultation on your case.

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