Most of us rely on an insurance agent to help us choose the coverages on our motor vehicle insurance policy, but do you fully understand that policy? In the personal injury field, we meet with injured clients often, who unfortunately do not realize the insurance choices they made determine whether or not they can be compensated.
Let us help you understand which important coverages you should select on your policy to best cover YOU. In Pennsylvania, under the Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law (75 Pa.C.S.) our insurance policy choices include the following:
- Full Tort vs. Limited Tort: Choose Full Tort. Full Tort allows you to recover for all of your injuries, such as your pain and suffering ( these damages are called “non-economic losses”), and medical or other out-of-pocket expenses (these damages are called “economic losses”), without If you choose Limited Tort, you are limiting or restricting your legal rights. You cannot recover non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering, unless your injuries fall within the definition of a “serious injury” or under certain exceptions that may apply. Examples of serious injuries include death, dismemberment and permanent scarring. Having Limited Tort does just that – limits your recovery to medical and other out-of-pocket expenses only.
- Uninsured (UM) and Underinsured (UIM) Motorist Coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage protects you if you are struck and injured by a driver who does NOT have insurance. Underinsured motorist coverage protects you if you are struck and injured by a driver who does not have enough insurance of their own to cover your injuries and losses. Note: In Pennsylvania, the law requires individuals to carry minimal limits of liability coverage, only $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident (referred to as 15/30). Remember, the liability (bodily injury) coverage you select on your policy protects you when you injure someone else and are at-fault in an accident. So, on the flip side, if you are seriously injured in an accident, and the at-fault driver only has the minimal mandatory $15,000 coverage, you will be able turn to your Underinsured motorist coverage for additional compensation for your injuries and losses. You may elect UM/UIM coverage equal to or less than the amount of your liability coverage.
- Stacking vs. Unstacked UM/UIM. Do the math. With Stacking, you are able to “stack” the amount of your UM/UIM coverages based on the number of vehicles on the policy. So, if you elect $50,000/$100,000 in UM/UIM coverage, and you have two vehicles, the available coverage with “stacking” becomes $100,000/$200,000.
Other benefits that are important are First-Party Benefits. For instance, you have options to increase the mandatory $5,000 medical benefit limit to up to $100,000 or more (through extraordinary coverage). In addition, other available benefits are income loss benefits (if the accident causes injury that prevents you from working), accidental death benefits and funeral benefits. Your policy also can cover collision and comprehensive coverage, and rental.
Take some time now to review your automobile insurance policy, because once an accident happens, it is too late to make any changes. If you have any questions, or have been involved in an accident, please call your attorneys at Hamburg, Rubin, Mullin, Maxwell & Lupin. We can help.