What in the World Is a Tort?
In the world of Pennsylvania auto insurance, there are so many terms that can be hard to understand to someone who doesn’t deal with it every day. Bodily injury, property damage, collision, and comprehensive. What do all these things mean and how do they impact your policy? The word tort is thrown around, and you hear terms like full and limited. The thing that sticks out the most is that limited is usually a lot cheaper than full, so that’s the best choice since we are scrimping, right? It may not be so black and white.
So, what is limited tort?
The first thing you need to know is that if you choose limited tort on your auto policy, you are giving up your right to sue for pain and suffering. You might think now that if someone causes an accident, you will not sue them because it is exactly that, an accident. What happens if you are severely injured and have lifelong pain? You would most likely want to be compensated somehow. A long-term illness or injury can be devastating to your wallet.
A long-term illness could even include anxiety that could prevent you from driving again. Even worse, if you end up in a wheelchair, the only money you can collect is the liability limit on the at-fault parties’ policy. Which, by the way, is not regulated except for state minimum which is $15,000. This amount would not go very far. Also, there are people out there who drive without insurance, so imagine the financial state you could be in if you were in an accident caused by them. Is a lower monthly premium worth the risk?
On the other hand, we have the full tort option.
First and foremost, this option is more expensive on your monthly premium. That being said, it does allow you to sue for pain and suffering, so if you get hit by a driver and severely injured, you can sue them for mental anguish.
One thing to keep in mind is that the at-fault parties’ policy will still only pay up to the limit that they have for liability. Of course, once that limit is exhausted, having full tort will give you the opportunity to collect on additional damages that accident caused.
Which option should you choose?
The decision to make a choice between full and limited tort is a personal one and can depend on your situation. If you are young or have a bad driving history, your priority may be to keep your monthly premium lower. If that is the case limited tort might be the correct option for you.
If your quality of life is diminished, being able to sue for damages could mean putting food on the table for your family or not. If you want the right to sue for the reasons above and can afford the extra premium, full tort may be the best option. As always, discuss your options and details with your insurance agent.