I had no answer to this question before I started writing this blog post. I knew very little about my car insurance, so I decided to use this post as an opportunity to become informed on how I should supplement my coverage. It turns out that there is a lot to know about car insurance.
Now, I of course knew the basics. I knew that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania requires that all PA drivers carry both Medical Benefits and Liability insurance on their vehicles (An easy way to think about the difference between these two is that Medical Benefit insurance covers your injuries, and Liability insurance covers the injuries of the individuals in the other car). But what I didn’t know was that the minimum requirements on these coverages is woefully inadequate.
Regarding your Medical Benefit coverage, the minimum coverage you must carry is $5,000. Meaning, if you are in an accident, your insurance company will cover the first $5,000 dollars of medical expenses and you will be left to recover the remaining from outside sources. You can pay a higher premium for more coverage, and you probably should, but what is more important, at least in my opinion, is choosing the right sort of Medical Benefit insurance at the outset.
What some individuals — myself included with them before now — might not know is that you have the option to purchase either “limited tort” or “full tort” Medical Benefit coverage. These coverages allow the insured to sue for either (1) only pain and suffering or (2) medical costs & pain and suffering, respectively, in the case of an accident. There is no requirement to carry “full tort,” and your premiums will be higher with “full tort” coverage, but believe me, you won’t think about the price increase if you are an unfortunate participant in a motor vehicle accident that results in significant medical expenses.
Liability coverage is probably even less understood than Medical Benefit coverage, though I think it’s simpler to understand why you need more than the minimum here. The lowest acceptable coverage amount in Pennsylvania is $15,000 per person, per accident and $30,000 total per accident for bodily injury and $5,000 for property damage. Quite simply, you can – and you should – add coverage beyond these amounts. The amount you may supplement varies by company, but I’d suggest purchasing as much insurance as practicable, because you don’t want to not have it when you need it.
As I mentioned, there is more to car insurance than these two coverages. A significant amount of litigation is concentrated around Uninsured Motorist and Underinsured Motorist, which are both insurances any responsible driver should carry and merit their own blog post. There is also comprehensive coverage, collision insurance, and several other forms of insurance everyone should at least consider when purchasing car insurance. More to come.