Drake, Hileman & Davis, PC


October 29, 2016

By: Peter M. Hileman, Esq.

At Drake, Hileman & Davis, we deal with car accident victims on a daily basis. One of the first questions we ask them is what are the terms of your auto insurance policy? It amazes us how few people know what their auto insurance policy says or what its key terms mean. Many don’t realize until after an accident that they don’t have adequate insurance coverage. For the little thought you probably give it, your auto insurance policy is one of the most important and potentially valuable things you have.

Many people try to save some money by cutting corners on their auto insurance coverage. This is the ultimate penny wise, pound foolish mentality. Many have only the minimum coverage allowed by law. In Pennsylvania, minimum coverage is: limited tort; no uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage; and $15,000 of bodily injury coverage. But when it comes to auto insurance, you literally get what you pay for. And, unfortunately, when you elect to limit your own insurance coverage, your decision also limits the rights of your spouse and minor children to recover for their injuries as well.

We have seen the devastating impact of motor vehicle accidents on families who did not have adequate insurance. Like many people, they thought that auto accidents and disabling injuries only happen to other people. But when an accident impacted their lives, they deeply regretted that they did not do a better job of protecting their family. These crash victims would tell you not to wait until after an accident to review and possibly enhance your insurance coverage. It will be too late then. You need to review your policy and make any necessary changes now.

That leads to an important question: what is adequate insurance coverage?

Adequate insurance protection starts with making sure you elect full tort, not limited tort. Full tort coverage costs about 15% more than limited tort. Limited tort might save you about $150 per year on a typical policy. But the difference in your recovery, should you ever be injured in an accident, could be dramatic.

You should also pay for uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. This is the insurance that protects you and your family if the driver who causes your injury has no insurance, or has low limits. More than one in 13 vehicles in Pennsylvania are driven illegally, without insurance. If you are injured by one of these uninsured drivers, your only source of recovery may be your own uninsured motorist coverage, if you have not waived it.

Another common mistake is believing that you are fully covered because you have, say, $100,000 of liability insurance (which is paid to others if you are at fault), but have little, if any, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (which is paid to you and your passengers if the other driver is at fault). We suggest that you have the same amount of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage as you do liability coverage, and that you get the highest amount you can reasonably afford, preferably at least $100,000.

What are your next steps? We urge you to act immediately. Find your auto insurance policy and review it right away. Focus on what your policy covers and its dollar limits. Learn what the key terms in your policy mean. Don’t be like so many people who don’t realize that they have limited tort, or have waived uninsured/under insured motorist coverage, and don’t even know what these words mean.

Contact us today. We don’t sell insurance. Our only interest is the protection of you and your family. We will be glad to evaluate your car insurance policy and advise you whether you need to make changes to it. You never know when you might be the victim of an accident.