Buying auto insurance is confusing. Save a few dollars here, and you may cost yourself a few thousand there. Many people unknowingly choose policies that don’t provide enough coverage if they are involved in an accident.
To get the right insurance, you have to understand what you’re buying. For example, do you know the difference between Full Tort and Limited Tort? How much Bodily Injury Liability Coverage should you have if you live in Pennsylvania, New Jersey or Delaware?
If you don’t know, you’re not alone. Most people don’t know much at all about automobile insurance, so we’ve prepared a short list of terms that you’ll need to know if you need to know.
Full Tort vs. Limited Tort:
Tort law addresses and provides remedies for civil wrongs other than those arising out of contractual obligations. A person who suffers legal damages may be able to use tort law to receive compensation from someone who is legally responsible, or liable, for those injuries.
So, in short, if you are injured and someone else’s negligence caused you to be injured, tort law covers your ability to recover damages from the negligent party.
When purchasing automobile insurance, you are given two options, one of which significantly limits your ability to make a recovery in the event that you are injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault.
In Pennsylvania, this is known as the “Limited Tort” option. In Pennsylvania, purchasers of the “Limited Tort” option must suffer from a significant loss of bodily function in order to collect for their pain and suffering, leaving themselves exposed in the event that they are badly injured but do not meet the legal definition of a significant loss of bodily function.
LundyLaw STRONGLY recommends that you purchase the “Full Tort” option.
In New Jersey, this is known as the “Verbal Threshold” option. It can also be referred to as the “Tort Limitation” option. In New Jersey, purchasers of standard automobile insurance policies who limit their right to sue a negligent driver by electing the “Verbal Threshold” or “Tort Limitation” option can only sue if they sustain a bodily injury that results in death, dismemberment, significant disfigurement, significant scarring, displaced fractures, loss of a fetus, or a permanent injury.
LundyLaw STRONGLY recommends that you purchase the “Zero Threshold” option.
In Delaware, there is no threshold limiting your ability to recover for your injuries, meaning that all Delaware automobile insurance policies carry the equivalent of Pennsylvania’s “Full Tort” and New Jersey’s “Zero Threshold” options. While people often choose Limited Tort or Verbal Threshold to save on their premiums, Lundy Law STRONGLY recommends the Full Tort /Zero Threshold option.
Why? With a Full Tort /Zero Threshold selection, you retain unrestricted rights to bring suit against the negligent party. With a Limited Tort /Verbal Threshold option, you are not able to recover certain damages, most importantly payments for your pain and suffering.
Bodily Injury Liability Coverage:
These provide benefits to pay claims against the policyholder if he or she is found legally responsible for causing the accident. All states require minimum Bodily Injury Liability and Property Damage Coverage. However, many have minimum limits that can leave you seriously exposed.
Lundy Law STRONGLY recommends that you purchase liability coverage in the amount of, at the very least, $25,000 per person and $50,000 per occurrence , and if you can afford it, you should really be carrying liability coverage in the amount of $100,000 per person and $300,000 per occurrence.
Why? The reason is that your insurance company will only pay expenses up to the limit of your coverage. If a judgment is entered against you that exceeds the limit, you can be held personally responsible for the difference. On top of that, you are able to purchase what is known as “Uninsured/Under Insured Motorist” coverage equal to, but, not greater than the amount of liability coverage you purchase.
So in other words, in order for you to adequately protect yourself against uninsured and under insured drivers, you must have an adequate amount of liability coverage.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage:
Uninsured Motorist covers benefits to the insured if he or she is injured by a driver carrying no insurance. Underinsured Motorist coverage pays benefits to a policyholder if he or she is injured by a motorist who has inadequate insurance to pay for the property damage, medical expenses and pain and suffering that the claim warrants. Lundy Law STRONGLY recommends that you purchase Uninsured/Under Insured Motorist Coverage in the amount of, at the very least, $25,000 per person and $50,000 per occurrence , and if you can afford it, you should really be carrying UM/UIM coverage in the amount of $100,000 per person and $300,000 per occurrence.
Why? Because statistics show that the amount of uninsured drivers on the road today is at an all time high. Incredible as it seems, you can lose out if you’re in an accident with another motorist who doesn’t have insurance. As well, many people are under insured, leaving you at risk when damages exceed the coverage.
Medical Expense Benefits Coverage:
This coverage typically pays medical, hospital, lost-income and disability expenses on behalf of the policyholder. The minimum amount of Medical Expense Benefits Coverage in Pennsylvania is $5000. The problem is, in today’s world, if you are hospitalized, $5,000 can disappear in a flash. For this reason, Lundy Law STRONGLY recommends at least and preferably more than $25,000 in Medical Expense Benefit Coverage.
Why? Because with the cost of medical treatment, you can very quickly exceed your coverage, requiring that you pay these expenses out of pocket.
In Delaware, Medical Coverage provided under a Delaware Automobile policy pays 100% of any related medical expenses until coverage is exhausted. There is no fee reduction or co-pay that must be paid. Because coverage pays 100 percent coverage we STRONGLY recommend that you obtain at least $25,000 in coverage.
Summing It Up:
It’s unfortunate, but too many people find out the hard way that their auto insurance is inadequate, putting their family and their financial security at risk.
Don’t let it be you. Check your declarations form, the page from your insurance company that lists your insurance coverage. Remember, you can change your policy at any time. So, if you find that you’re under the limit, call your insurer.
If you have any questions about how much insurance you should buy, call Lundy Law at 215-567-3000 or visit us online at LundyLaw.com.