One of the most important, yet often misunderstood, decisions when purchasing automobile insurance is the tort election option. This is an election that every person buying auto insurance in Pennsylvania must make.
When I first meet with clients who have been involved in auto accidents, one of the first topics we discuss is the tort election choice which applies to their policy with their auto insurer. Unfortunately, people do not realize the important effect and limitations the limited tort election may have on you and your household relatives in the event of an accident.
In short, Pennsylvania law states that you have given up the right to pursue a claim for non-economic damages (read “pain and suffering”) if you have elected the limited tort option. The problem is that insurance carriers, by and through their agents, do not fully explain the legal ramifications of making this choice – sadly, what frequently happens is that the person purchasing coverage is simply presented with the cheapest option available which will always be the limited tort option.
While the law also requires the carrier to present a form which contains specific language regarding the tort options along with the premium quote for each, it is rarely fully explained. The limited tort option may save you between $50-$500 per coverage period depending on the carrier and the individual’s insurance needs, but it may also bar your claim for compensatory damages. While there are limited exceptions to the limited tort bar, you should think long and hard about making this choice, and only make a decision that is fully informed and knowing.
If you have any questions about tort election, please do not hesitate to contact me today.