By Joyce Novotny-Prettiman, Esq.
We have heard clients comment that they never really read their auto insurance information prior to their motor vehicle collision. Unfortunately, after you are in an accident, it is too late to make sure you have the coverage you need. Take just a little bit of time to do some "preventive maintenance." Here is our advice about the coverage you should have in place to protect you and your family.
TORT OPTION: FULL TORT
This is the most important choice when selecting your coverage. Always choose the full tort option which provides the most complete protection. If you do not choose full tort, you give up important legal rights. This holds true even if an accident is not your fault.
The person who makes the tort selection binds the entire household and everyone covered under the policy. Selecting full tort is "easy." There are no forms to sign to select it. You actually have to sign a form to opt out of your rights under full tort.
MEDICAL COVERAGE: $10,000.00 MINIMUM
Though you must purchase at least $5,000 of medical coverage, we recommend at least double that amount for medical coverage, or "first party coverage" as it is called in Pennsylvania. If you do not have health insurance, you may want to purchase even more coverage which will pay medical bills if you or a family member are hurt in a collision.
WAGE LOSS COVERAGE: CHOOSE IT!
If you are hurt in an accident and not able to work, wage loss coverage will keep money coming in to pay your bills while you are off work. If you do not have this coverage, you must wait to get your wage loss covered by the person at fault for the collision. This process can take a long time because the wage loss payment is part of a one-time, lump-sum payment. Though Pennsylvania does not require that you carry this coverage, most people who become involved in an accident are thankful they purchased it.
UNINSURED AND UNDERINSURED (UM/UIM) COVERAGE: $100,000.00 MINIMUM
Just like wage loss coverage, this coverage is not required under Pennsylvania law - BUT you do not want to go without it. This important coverage protects you and your family if you are hurt by a person who has little or no insurance. To make this coverage even more valuable, you want to "stack" uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. If you have several cars in your household, you can collect this type of coverage from another car in your household. This coverage may also provide protection even if you would be involved in an accident that does not involve your auto.
Full Tort + Wage Loss Coverage + stacked UM/UIM coverage = the best protection for you and your family.