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Auto insurance is mandatory in the commonwealth
Drivers must purchase and maintain car insurance in order to legally drive in Pennsylvania . Under Pennsylvania law, this is called maintaining “financial responsibility” on your vehicles. A lapse in insurance coverage may result in the suspension of your vehicle registration privilege for three months, unless the lapse of insurance was for a period of less than 31 days and the owner or registrant proves to the Department of Transportation (PennDOT) that the vehicle was not operated during this short lapse in coverage.
If PennDOT determines that you operated your vehicle without the required insurance, your driver’s license may be suspended for three months. Also, your car’s license plate, registration sticker and driver’s license must be surrendered to PennDOT in order to serve the suspension. Restoration fees and proof of insurance must be submitted prior to having either registration or driving privileges returned.
If you are stopped for a moving violation and it is determined that you are operating your vehicle without insurance, you could face the following penalties and expenses:
A minimum of $300 fine for driving uninsured
A three-month suspension of your vehicle registration
A three-month suspension of your driver’s license
Restoration fees to restore your vehicle registration
Restoration fees to restore your driver’s license
In addition, your vehicle may not be driven by anyone while the registration is suspended.
Pennsylvania’s required coverage
When you purchase private passenger automobile insurance, there are certain coverage that are required and others that are optional. The required coverage are:
Medical Benefits— This pays medical bills for you and others who are covered by your policy, regardless of fault. The minimum limit is $5,000 of coverage. Higher limits are available if you so choose.
Bodily Injury Liability— If you injure someone in a car accident, this coverage pays their medical and rehabilitation expenses and any damages for which you are found liable. The minimum limit is $15,000/$30,000. The $15,000 pays for injuries to one person, while the $30,000 represents the total available for one accident.
Property Damage Liability— If you damage someone’s property in an accident and you are at fault, this coverage pays for it. The minimum limit is $5,000 of coverage.
Some companies offer a single limit of $35,000 which meets the bodily injury liability and property damage liability minimum requirements.
Limited or Full Tort- You can choose to have full or limited tort coverage. Limited tort coverage offers you a savings on your premiums. You are still able to recover all out-of-pocket medical and other expenses; however, you are not able to recover certain damages - such as payments for pain and suffering - unless the injuries meet one of the exceptions to limited tort as defined in Act 6 of 1990, title 75, section 1705 (d). With full tort coverage selection, you retain unrestricted rights to bring suit against the negligent party.
Pennsylvania ’s optional coverage
In addition, private passenger automobile insurance policies offer a variety of additional optional coverage that can be purchased. These include:
Uninsured Motorist (UM)— This coverage applies to you, your family and your passengers for bodily injury if you are hit by an at-fault uninsured motorist. This does not cover damage to property.
Underinsured Motorist (UIM) — This coverage applies to you, your family and your passengers for bodily injury if you are hit by an at-fault motorist who does not have enough insurance to cover your claim. This does not cover damage to property.
Stacking of UM or UIM— This coverage allows you to either multiply the amount of uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage by the number of vehicles on your policy or to receive uninsured or under insured motorist coverage from more than one policy under which you are insured. It costs extra to stack uninsured or under insured motorist coverage.
Funeral Benefit— This coverage pays, up to a certain dollar amount, money for funeral expenses if you or a family member dies as a result of an auto accident.
Income Loss— This coverage pays a portion of your lost wages when injuries sustained in an auto accident keep you from working.
Collision — This benefit pays to repair damage to your car as a result of an accident. Most banks or lenders require you to buy this coverage to receive a car loan. Under Pennsylvania law, the insurance company applies a $500 deductible unless you request a lower amount. Generally speaking, the higher your deductible, the lower your premium.
Comprehensive — Generally, this pays for theft or damage to your car from hazards including fire, flood, vandalism or striking an animal. Most banks or lenders require you to buy this coverage to receive a car loan. There are various levels of deductible that may be purchased.
Extraordinary Medical Benefits — This coverage pays for medical and rehabilitation expenses that exceed $100,000. It provides a maximum of $1 million of coverage.
Accidental Death Benefit— This is a benefit paid to the personal representative of an insured if the bodily injury from a motor vehicle accident results in death within 24 months of the date of the accident.
Rental Reimbursement Coverage— This pays for an individual’s expenses, up to the limit on their policy, to rent a vehicle if they have a covered comprehensive or collision loss.
Towing Coverage— This reimburses an individual, up to the limit on their policy, for towing and labor costs for a covered disabled vehicle. This coverage is usually only available if comprehensive and collision is carried on the vehicle.
Gap Coverage — This pays the difference between an insurance company’s payment for a totaled vehicle and the balance of a vehicle loan. This coverage is traditionally only available when an individual is purchasing a new vehicle."
Information provided by the Insurance Department of Pennsylvania
National Insurance Crime Bureau
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