Mistake One – Limited Tort Rather Than Full Tort
If you choose Limited Tort, your legal rights to compensation from another driver who injures you in a car accident are limited. You can seek compensation for Economic Damages (lost wages and medical bills), but usually cannot recover Non-Economic Damages (pain and suffering, disfigurement, and negative impact on activities). Full Tort protects your full legal rights to compensation for both Economic and Non-Economic Damages.
Mistake Two – Low Liability Limits
Liability coverage protects you from legal claims for Bodily Injury and Property Damage if you cause a car accident. Your insurance company must pay to defend you and pay compensation up to the amount of your coverage limits. Pennsylvania’s minimum liability limits are $15,000 per person/$30,000 per accident for Bodily Injury and $5,000 for Property Damage. If you cause more injury or damage than your coverage limits, your personal assets are at risk.
Mistake Three – Low Uninsured/Underinsured Limits
Uninsured/Underinsured coverage protects you and your family from irresponsible drivers who have either no liability insurance or not enough liability insurance to cover the damage they cause. If you or a family member are injured by such an uninsured or underinsured driver, the coverage on your own policy compensates you without any penalty. Uninsured/Underinsured coverage is not mandatory in Pennsylvania, but it is critical to have it in order to make sure that lost wages, medical bills and pain and suffering will be adequately compensated, regardless of the coverage or assets held by the driver who caused the accident.
Mistake Four – Non-Stacked Uninsured/Underinsured Coverage
In a multi-vehicle car insurance policy, you have the right to “stack” your Uninsured/ Underinsured coverage. “Stacking” multiplies your coverage limit by the number of vehicles. A $100,000 Uninsured/Underinsured policy “stacked” in a two-vehicle policy becomes $200,000 of coverage. Stacking is not mandatory, but is relatively inexpensive. You should choose to stack.
Mistake Five – Low First Party Medical Benefit Limits and No Lost Wage, Funeral or Accidental Death Benefits
In Pennsylvania, your own car insurance pays your medical bills, lost wages, funeral and burial expenses and accidental death benefits up to the amount of your coverage, regardless of who caused the car accident. You are required to buy $5,000 of medical coverage but you can purchase more. Medical coverage pays for your bills without any deductibles or co-pays. Other First Party Benefits, like coverage for lost wages, funeral and burial expenses and accidental death benefits are not mandatory. However, such coverage is often important to have when a car accident causes loss of income or death of a family member.
Tim Rayne is a Car Accident and Personal Injury Attorney with the Chester County law firm MacElree Harvey. For over 20 years Tim has been helping people who have been injured in accidents receive fair treatment from insurance companies. Tim has offices in Kennett Square and West Chester and can be reached at 610 840 0124 or [email protected]