In addition to the standard types of coverage, Pennsylvania enacted “insurance choice” in an attempt to lower insurance rates. Despite its misleading name, insurance choice does little to make insurance more affordable and everything to make our roads more dangerous. When buying insurance, you have the choice to between “full tort” and “limited tort.” Now that you’re heard “tort,” you should recognize that this law has nothing to do with rate regulation and everything to do with limiting drivers’ access to courts in an attempt to insulate insurance companies from paying out claims.
Full tort insurance protects your full legal rights at a higher cost. Full tort insurance coverage enables you to bring a claim or lawsuit for any injury you suffer in an accident. Preserving your rights comes at a price, though – full tort coverage is typically 12 to 20 percent more expensive than limited tort coverage.
Under limited tort coverage, you can only recover very limited sums for your injuries. Those injuries most be considered “serious” to qualify for compensation, and the law defines serious injuries very narrowly:
Serious injury: personal injury resulting in death, serious impairment of a bodily function or permanent serious disfigurement.
Courts have typically ruled that “soft tissue” injuries, such as neck and back sprains and strains, don’t qualify as serious, but some judges have also found broken bones and head injuries don’t meet the definition of serious either. In a review of cases decided since insurance choice was implemented, a majority of judges have ruled against limited tort drivers.
Instead of regulating the insurance industry, Pennsylvania lawmakers abdicated the responsibility to individual drivers. Our elected officials should be working to preserve our rights, not setting the example that justice comes at a price.