Buying automobile insurance in Pennsylvania can be very confusing. The insurance can cost a lot, and it isn't always easy to know what all the coverages are and which coverages you should buy. At times, insurance salespeople will try to steer you toward coverage that doesn't protect you.
In this podcast, Attorney Daniel J. Siegel provides an easy-to-understand explanation of what coverages are available, along with recommendations for purchasing car insurance that (1) protects you in case you cause an accident, and (2) protects you in case you are injured because another person was negligent. The program covers liability insurance, uninsured motorist coverage, underinsured motorist coverage, medical benefits, collision and comprehensive coverage.
Plus, Attorney Siegel, who regularly represents auto accident victims at the Law Offices of Daniel J. Siegel, LLC, also explains important concepts such as full tort and limited tort and stacked and unstacked coverage. All in a short podcast that will prepare you to buy or renew your Pennsylvania auto insurance policy.
00;00;01;16 - 00;00;31;09 Unknown Welcome to the latest edition of the Legal Tech podcast. I'm Dan Siegel. I'm an attorney and I operate the law offices of Daniel J. Siegel, LLC and Integrated Technology Services, LLC. We provide services to attorneys to consumers on a wide range of areas. Today, this podcast is going to address something that impacts almost every adult in Pennsylvania automobile insurance. 00;00;31;26 - 00;01;04;25 Unknown What I'm going to be talking about today are the different types of insurance that you're offered. What they mean and our recommendations for what you should purchase. So without further ado, let's talk about auto insurance in this. Consumers Guide to Buying Automobile Insurance in Pennsylvania. When you think about auto insurance, you think about its expense and often will it protect you if someone sues you as the result of an accident? 00;01;05;02 - 00;01;32;13 Unknown And that's important. But your own auto insurance in Pennsylvania also serves another purpose because it can protect you in the event you are injured because another driver was negligent. So when you look at your policy and it doesn't really matter which company it is, insurance is governed by Pennsylvania law and all auto insurers are going to offer the same types of coverage. 00;01;32;21 - 00;02;09;06 Unknown The only difference may be the price or whether they'll offer you insurance because they can decline to based on your driving history, etc. But your auto insurance policy is written in Pennsylvania. Typically for either six months or a one year period. The policy comes with a declarations page. And if you're a new shopper for auto insurance, the agent or the company is going to also ask you to sign certain documents outlining the coverages you bought. 00;02;09;15 - 00;02;41;09 Unknown I'll talk about that as I discuss auto insurance generally. So first, your policy will list any vehicles that are in your household that you or someone in your household owns or operates. Typically speaking, everyone in a household is on one policy. Although you could purchase multiple policies, the number of cars that are insured on your policy can make a difference in terms of some of the coverage that's available. 00;02;41;27 - 00;03;33;29 Unknown So let's look at those coverages. The first coverage and the one that most people think about initially is liability insurance. And what liability insurance is, is coverage that protects you or anyone else insured under the policy in the event that you were negligent and cause injuries or damage to another person or property. The policy limits for these coverages vary but typically in Pennsylvania, the minimum coverage you can purchase is what we call 15, 30, $15,000 of coverage for each individual who may be injured with a total coverage of 30,000. 00;03;34;06 - 00;03;59;15 Unknown So if one person was injured in the accident and you had 1530, he or she could recover from your policy up to $15,000. If two people they could each recover 15. If there's three they're only going to have to split that 30,000. And if there were six they'd still have to split the same 30,000 liability coverage is offered in various limits. 00;04;00;20 - 00;04;38;16 Unknown 1530 is the minimum and it's not something we recommend What we recommend is purchasing as much coverage as you can reasonably afford because your liability insurance coverage will impact what you can purchase in other coverages also. So it is not uncommon for insurance policies to be what we call 10,300, and that's $100,000 per person. $300,000 per accident. That means 100,000 is available in case of an injury to another person. 00;04;38;21 - 00;05;08;12 Unknown If there were two, there'd be 200,003 people, 300,000 or more. They would split the 300,000. So when you're looking for auto insurance liability, you want to have enough coverage to protect you, because if you purchase the minimum and you have a lot of assets like a home, you may find that having minimum coverage, if you were negligent and caused serious injuries, could expose you to additional liability. 00;05;08;23 - 00;05;38;26 Unknown In other words, you might have to pay above the policy limits. So as a practical matter, we typically recommend that families purchase at least 100,000 slash 300,000. Sometimes there's just a 300,000 single limit. You could purchase up to half a million in coverage. You could purchase a million in coverage depending on what the insurance company offers. Your liability coverage also has another coverage called Property Damage Liability. 00;05;39;12 - 00;06;11;24 Unknown That coverage applies to incidents where you were negligent and maybe you hit a light pole and you have to pay to reimburse the municipality who owned the light pole or you hit some other property. You drove into a building or something unusual. But it happens. And typically property damage liability is less than the liability for bodily injury. And you can purchase different amounts of that. 00;06;12;11 - 00;06;45;18 Unknown But when you're purchasing, you're liable bility coverage. You were also, in Pennsylvania, required to specify whether you are going to be covered by what we call full talk or limited tort coverage. This selection is extremely important and is probably the most important decision you will make if you purchase full tort coverage. That coverage means what type of damages you. 00;06;45;23 - 00;07;30;05 Unknown Not someone you hit, but you or someone in your household who's insured under the policy can recover based upon the other driver in the accident. You know, it doesn't sound real logical or intuitive, but what it is is your purchasing to liable any coverage. But you're also specifying the types of injuries that you could have if someone's injured and you make a claim full tort coverage, which is what is recommended, typically covers any injury that you or anyone in your household suffers from a stubbed toe to catastrophic injuries, on the other hand. 00;07;30;18 - 00;08;01;25 Unknown Limited tort coverage, which is typically available at about a 10% discount, dramatically limits your right to recover against another negligent party You have to have had a serious impairment of body function in order to be able to overcome what we call the limited tort threshold. In general, this means if you have somewhat minor injuries, you have a strain and sprain. 00;08;01;28 - 00;08;34;08 Unknown You can even have a herniated disc or something like that. But if it really doesn't impair your ability to work and do things, the limited tort selection that you make will in fact dramatically limit whether you can recover because the courts have interpreted limited tort to bar many many claims. So you're looking at a difference of about 10%, but that 10% can be the difference between being able to recover for pain and suffering or not. 00;08;34;15 - 00;09;06;05 Unknown So we recommend full tort coverage and purchasing liability coverage as much as is reasonable for you. But typically speaking, 10,300 coverage is the common coverage. You're also going to purchase or have the options of purchasing other coverages. One is called comprehensive insurance. Comprehensive pays for theft or damage to your car from things like fire, vandalism, or if you hit an animal. 00;09;06;23 - 00;09;40;21 Unknown If you have a loan or a more or a lease, the bank or lender may require you to purchase comprehensive coverage, but it is a good idea to purchase that. Another coverage that you can purchase is called Collision Coverage. Collision coverage is coverage that impacts what you pay based upon damage to your vehicle. And in an accident or an incident, if someone hits you and it's their fault. 00;09;40;29 - 00;10;10;01 Unknown Commonly that person's insurance company is going to pay for the property damage to your vehicle. On the other hand, if you were negligent or with some other type of damage, collision coverage will pay for your vehicle repair up to the value of the car, which is the trade in value of the car and it covers it. Less a deductible. 00;10;10;11 - 00;10;40;16 Unknown A deductible which also will occur with comprehensive coverage, is an amount that you pay upfront before you are entitled to be compensated by the insurance company for that damages or the body shop gets paid for the damages. Typically, car deductibles could be $500 or $1,000, and it's important to compare what the rate differences are to determine what deductible you want. 00;10;40;23 - 00;11;17;22 Unknown Sometimes it may only be a matter of a dollar or two, and if it is, you want the lower deductible. If it's substantial or you're driving an old vehicle that has limited value, then you may want a high deductible. You may not even want collision insurance, but understand that if you don't have collision insurance and your vehicle is damaged, and there's no other party paying for that damage, you will not be able to get any money from your own auto insurance or other types of coverage that are particularly important are what we call uninsured motorist coverage. 00;11;18;00 - 00;11;58;01 Unknown And under insured motorist coverages and these like liability coverage and first party benefits coverage, you will be asked to sign an election form for the liability election is one that you specify whether you want full tort or limited tort. If you never sign the forms, you're going to be entitled to full tort coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage is coverage that protects you or someone else in your vehicle in the event that a vehicle causes injuries to you. 00;11;58;07 - 00;12;30;21 Unknown And that vehicle was not insured it was uninsured. What you want to do because you can buy less uninsured coverage, then your liability coverage is to purchase as much uninsured coverage as you can up to your limits of liability. So if you have a 100,000 lives, $300,000 liability limit by default, you would be entitled to $100,000, $300,000 in uninsured motorist coverage. 00;12;31;25 - 00;13;04;10 Unknown In underinsured motorist coverage means that the vehicle that caused your or your family or whomever was in the vehicle's injuries didn't have enough insurance. Allow me to explain. Suppose you suffered $150,000 in injuries. That's the value of the pain and suffering that you suffered from your accident and the vehicle that caused your injuries had $50,000 in liability coverage per person. 00;13;05;01 - 00;13;37;10 Unknown Well, you've collected the $50,000, but you still haven't been compensated in full because you're entitled to another $100,000. As a practical matter, it's very hard to collect above an insurance policy limit from another vehicle's insured. Rarely does it happen. So you can look to underinsured motorist coverage to cover you for that additional amount that the other vehicle didn't have enough insurance to pay. 00;13;37;18 - 00;14;13;02 Unknown So in the example I gave you, they would pay $50,000 and your insurance company, if you had 100 slash 300 coverage, would pay the other 100,000, making you whole. Please note that uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage claims do not change or cannot be used as a basis for increasing your insurance rates because you are specifically purchasing coverage based upon an assumption that someone else either didn't have insurance or didn't have enough insurance. 00;14;14;09 - 00;14;44;01 Unknown In addition, your uninsured and your underinsured motorist election, what types of what amounts of coverage you get are going to be limited by whether you have limited to work or full tort? So if you have a limited tort and you have a strain and sprain and the other vehicle wasn't insured, your uninsured motorist coverage from your own company probably is going to fight you on that and doesn't want to pay you because you didn't suffer a serious impairment of body function. 00;14;44;06 - 00;15;20;05 Unknown If you're full tort, it doesn't matter Finally, there is first party benefits, which are medical expense benefits. The minimum you can purchase is just $5,000 in medical insurance coverage for your auto injuries. Automobile insurance pays for medical care at rates that are specified by Pennsylvania law. So it's not the amount that the doctor or the hospital bills, but $5,000 is still not a lot of coverage. 00;15;20;16 - 00;15;47;21 Unknown You can purchase more if you need to. You have to consider a few things, including whether you have really good medical insurance or not. Because if you only have 5,001st party benefits for medical expenses and you don't have good medical insurance, you may have to pay for those costs out of pocket and try to recover them from the negligent vehicle. 00;15;47;28 - 00;16;22;28 Unknown And if, God forbid, you were at fault where you can't make a claim, you're going to pay those funds out of your own pocket. So you want to purchase medical coverage based upon obviously what you can afford and also the types of other coverage available to you. Your medical insurance coverage, Medicare, those types of things. You can also purchase wage loss benefits through your insurance company, and those benefits are also part of first party benefits. 00;16;23;06 - 00;16;59;13 Unknown And you should evaluate that because in the event you're seriously injured and can't work, your auto insurance can step in and can pay that amount of wage loss for you. There is also death benefit coverage, which thankfully isn't used very often, but it is there to cover if, God forbid, you are killed in a crash. There are other types of coverages to rental reimbursement in case your vehicle is in the shop and can't be driven and you need a replacement car. 00;16;59;25 - 00;17;50;23 Unknown Some companies offer roadside assistance coverage. There are a variety of different coverages, but remember your election a full tort versus limited tort. That choice for your liability coverage will follow you along. And finally, when we talk about uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, you're going to be asked, is that coverage to be stark? Fact or un stacked? Stacked means that if you have more than one vehicle insured on the policy and you have 100,000 slash 300,000 in uninsured motorist coverage and you have two vehicles, you're going to be able to collect a maximum of 200,000 per person or 600,000 per accident because you stacked you added the two coverages. 00;17;51;00 - 00;18;27;27 Unknown You can't stack liability insurance coverage or first party benefits or any of the other coverages but you can stack uninsured and underinsured motorist coverages and you really want to purchase as much insurance as you can afford because the God forbid do happen. We had an accident recently where a client had ample liability coverage and was injured, but he had chosen at the recommendation of his agent to reduce his underinsured motorist coverage and his injuries were substantial. 00;18;28;13 - 00;19;16;05 Unknown Well, the vehicle that struck him had 15,000 in coverage and he reduced his underinsured motorist coverage to 50,000 per person. 100,000 per accident, he got 100,000 because they had two vehicles on their policy. But his damages were worth far more. But there was nowhere else to find insurance coverage, purchasing automobile insurance in Pennsylvania is a bit complicated. My goal with this podcast was to simplify the explanations so that you can understand what those coverages are, because often insurance companies and their agents just want to sell you what's cheap or may not be trying to sell you what's in your best interests. 00;19;16;13 - 00;19;44;04 Unknown Your best interest is to protect yourself from any damage you might cause through liability coverage and to protect yourself in the event that someone caused your injuries or your family's injuries and either didn't have insurance or didn't have enough If you have questions, we are happy to answer those questions about your auto insurance, about any other type of insurance. 00;19;44;04 - 00;20;19;26 Unknown You might have, and to assist you in pursuing any claims that you might have. All you have to do is contact me, Dan Siegel, the attorney at the law offices of Daniel J Siegel dot com. And our website is Daniel J Siegel dot com. D-A-N-I-E-L-J-S-I-E-G-E-L dot com. Today's Legal Tech podcast was sponsored by the law offices of Daniel J Siegel, LLC and also Integrated Technology Services, LLC. 00;20;20;15 - 00;20;32;23 Unknown Thank you again for listening. We hope this podcast has been informative and that it will help you in purchasing your automobile insurance. Thank you.