Auto insurance is tricky. We know we need it, but how much do we need to be "fully covered"?
When purchasing auto insurance in Pennsylvania, your insurance company may tell you that you are "fully covered" if you buy the minimum coverage required by state law. However, minimum coverage may leave you severely under-protected if you are injured in an accident. Make sure you are fully covered now, or you may find out the hard way that you do not have adequate protection.
The state of Pennsylvania requires motorists to carry a minimum of $15,000 in liability insurance to pay for bodily injuries caused to other drivers in a motor vehicle accident. If you carry the minimum coverage of $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident, your insurance company will pay a maximum of $15,000 to each person you injured in the accident, and no more than $30,000 total for any one accident, regardless of how many people get injured.
Pennsylvania drivers are also required to carry property damage liability, which covers damages caused to another person's property when an accident is your fault. Your insurance company is obligated to pay up to the amount of coverage you purchased. The Pennsylvania state minimum for property damage coverage is $5,000.
Medical payments coverage (or personal injury protection) is another required coverage in Pennsylvania. It is the first line of defense in paying for the medical expenses of you, and potentially anyone in your car who is injured, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. The minimum coverage required in Pennsylvania is $5,000, but you have the option to purchase more to protect you and your family.
After all is said and done, you may have purchased the minimum auto insurance coverage required by law and received a pretty good deal on your premium. So, why might you want to consider carrying more than just the bare minimum?
We strongly recommend purchasing uninsured / underinsured motorist coverage, which is optional in the state of Pennsylvania, and here’s why:
Let’s say you are hit by someone running a red light. You suffer catastrophic injuries resulting in tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills, but the person who hit you was “underinsured” and carried only the state minimum bodily injury coverage of $15,000 at the time of the accident. If you do not have underinsured motorist coverage, the amount of insurance money available from the other driver will not even come close to covering your medical expenses, let alone your pain and suffering.
However, if you are protected by underinsured motorist coverage, you will be able to bring a claim against your own insurance company in order to recover money for your medical bills, loss of income, etc. Similarly, if you have uninsured motorist coverage your insurance company will pay medical bills and lost wages if you are in an accident caused by a driver who has no liability insurance to cover these expenses. (Yes, it is illegal to drive without liability insurance, but people still do it). Your insurance company will pay up to the limits you chose when you bought the policy.
Pennsylvania Superior Court case Suk An v. Victoria Fire illustrates yet another reason why it is important to purchase underinsured and uninsured motorist benefits to protect yourself in case of an accident. In this particular case, the Superior Court upheld that a person can pay a cheaper premium to insure only him or herself as the driver of the covered vehicle (also known as a “Named Driver Only” policy). This means that if “the named driver” lets somebody drive the covered vehicle and that person gets into an accident, the insurance company can deny coverage for any claims arising from the incident.
No one purchases insurance with the intention of getting into a crash. But unfortunately auto accidents are common, and it’s best to be prepared for a worst case scenario. The auto accident attorneys at Metzger Wickersham have decades of experience dealing with insurance companies. If you’ve been involved in an accident, we can guide you through all steps of the aftermath. We will evaluate available insurance coverage and help you maximize your recovery. Let us put our 130 years of experience to work for you. Contact us today at (888) 286-2850 to schedule a free consultation.