Auto Insurance | Full Vs Limited Tort
When you purchase a personal auto policy in Pennsylvania, your agent will ask if you want Full Tort or Limited Tort. You have to be asking yourself, “What is a Tort and why in the world would I limit it?” We realize everyone wants to save money, but the real question is what the coverage impact to this decision?
Lets start by defining a tort. In simple terms, a tort is defined as a legal wrong. And, for fun, let’s define punitive damages. Webster defines Punitive Damages as, “Damages awarded in excess of compensation to the plaintiff to punish a defendant for a serious wrong”. Some often simply refer to punitive damages as “pain and suffering”.
With these definitions in mind, let’s now uncover the differences in the full and limited tort selections:
Limited Tort – Limited Tort limits your ability to sue for punitive damages in a minor loss. This is the least expensive option.
Full Tort – Allows you to sue for punitive damages in a minor loss. Electing full tort increases the premiums you’ll pay for auto insurance.
Now that you understand the definitions, let’s put feet to this concept with a claim scenario:
You are driving your insured auto when another driver runs a stop sign and totals your car. The other driver carries $1,000,000 combined single limit insurance and your car is totaled. Your losses are:
- Total loss to auto – $25,000
- Your medical bills: $115,000
- Your lost wages (due to being in the hospital): $40,000
- Total Loss: $180,000
Full tort pays you $180,000 and limited tort pays you $180,000 because both pay actual damages. However, lets say you have ongoing back pain that doesn’t limit your ability to work, but may impact quality of life. With limited tort, you cannot sue for monetary damages for this pain and suffering (you are limited to this scenario’s $180,000 in actual damages), but if you had full tort you could sue for this pain and suffering, which may increase payments to you beyond this scenario’s $180,000 in actual damages.
There are some instances where an injured party with limited tort could sue for full tort benefits. Some of those scenarios are if the driver responsible for the accident is convicted or accepts Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) for driving under the influence or is operating a motor vehicle registered in another state. For a detailed description you can see Act 6 of Title 75, Section 1705 (d) of the PA Vehicle Code.
If you have questions after reading this don’t worry…call us! At Covenant, we are privileged to serve nearly 7,000 of our friends and neighbors here in York County, PA, and we’d love to work with you too. Give us a call at anytime.
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