We recently posted an article describing the difference between “full coverage automobile insurance” and “full automobile insurance coverage.” More than just a rearrangement of words, these two types of coverage provide very different levels of protection.
This post expands on automobile insurance to help you make informed motor vehicle coverage choices and get the best benefits for your specific situation.
From Standard To Optional
In the 1980s, Pennsylvania required uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage to come standard with every motor vehicle insurance policy. However, this changed in the 1990s when PA legislation made uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage optional.
Uninsured motorist insured coverage protects you and your family if a motor vehicle accident occurs and the person/entity responsible either:
- Does not have insurance, or
- Resides in a state with minimal limits lower than those of Pennsylvania
Uninsured Versus Underinsured
For uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, Pennsylvania’s minimal insurance limits for bodily injury are $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident.
- Uninsured motorist benefits are only activated if you’re struck by an out-of-state motor vehicle hailing from a state that requires minimal liability insurance limits less than $15,000/person and $30,000/accident.
- Underinsured motorist benefits come into play when the person/entity responsibly for the accident has insufficient liability insurance policy limits to fully compensate you or your family for any sustained injuries and damages. This time, let’s say the responsible party maintains minimal policy limits in the amount of $15,000/person and $30,000/accident and your personal injuries are worth more than $15,000. You can then make a claim against your own insurance company for underinsured motorist benefits.
Bodily Injury Coverage
Bodily injury coverage protects other persons injured in a motor vehicle accident as the result of your negligence. PA personal injury law dictates that if you don’t specifically elect to reduce your uninsured/underinsured motorist benefit limits, then those benefit limits will be equal to those limits selected for bodily injury coverage.
What does this mean? Let’s say you elect liability insurance limits in the amount of $50,000/person and $100,000/accident, but you don’t specifically elect to reduce those benefits as it pertains to uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. This means that your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage policy limits will be $50,000/person and $100,000/accident.
More Than One Vehicle: Benefit Stacking Privilege
You automatically get stacking privileges for each vehicle in your household that is insured by the same company. If you don’t elect to reject the stacking of your uninsured and/or underinsured motorist benefits, then the coverage will be multiplied by the number of vehicles insured in your household.
Here’s an example: If you maintain uninsured/underinsured motorist benefits in the amount of $50,000/person and $100,000/accident, and you have two vehicles in your household for which you have not rejected benefit stacking, then your uninsured/underinsured motorist benefits are now $100,000/person and $200,000/accident.
In other words, your insurance coverage will increase twofold if you maintain two vehicles in your household that are insured by the same company — provided you have not specifically rejected the stacking privilege.
It’s crucial that you seriously consider purchasing uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage with stacking privileges, if applicable, to protect yourself and your family in the case of a catastrophic loss due to a motor accident.
Once again, if you want full motor vehicle insurance coverage to protect yourself, your family and any passengers you carry, make sure your plan includes uninsured and underinsured coverage.
I know insurance issues are complicated, frustrating and often a source of unease … but they don’t have to be. For more clarification on motor vehicle insurance and personal injury litigation in general, contact me, Personal Injury Lawyer Howard B. Segal, by clicking the button below.