If you own a vehicle, what insurance do you need to legally drive in Pennsylvania?

Automobile insurance is regulated by each individual state. If you reside in Pennsylvania, your auto(s) should be registered there and you must have valid insurance. You can travel at will outside of Pennsylvania, as other states accept your insurance.

Pennsylvania requires all registered vehicles to have liability insurance, which reimburses individuals for injuries or damage you may cause by operating your automobile. The minimum liability insurance you must have is 15/30/5. The 15 is $15,000 of coverage if you injure one person; 30 is $30,000 of coverage if you injure more than one person; and 5 is $5,000 in property damage.

Pennsylvania law also requires your auto insurance policy to provide $5,000 in medical coverage. No matter who is responsible for an accident, the first $5,000 in medical bills will be paid for by the automobile insurance policy of the person injured. If you do not own a vehicle, then the first $5,000 in medical bills will be paid by the insurance policy of the vehicle you are riding in or a policy issued to a family member of the household you reside in.

“Limited Tort” option: The laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania give you the right to choose a form of insurance that limits your right and the right of members of your household to seek financial compensation for injuries caused by other drivers. You and other household members covered under this policy may seek recovery for all medical and other out-of-pocket expenses, but not for pain and suffering or other non-monetary damages, unless the injuries sustained fall within the definition of “serious injury” as set forth in the policy, or unless one of several other exceptions noted in the policy applies.

“Full Tort” option: Laws of the commonwealth also give you the right to choose a form of insurance under which you maintain an unrestricted right for you and members of your household to seek financial compensation for injuries caused by other drivers. You and other household members covered under this policy may seek recovery for all medical and other out-of-pocket expenses, and may seek financial compensation for pain and suffering and other non-monetary damages as a result of injuries caused by other drivers.

Choosing Limited or Full Tort will result in premium differences and should be discussed with your insurance agent.

Pennsylvania laws apply to all registered vehicles. If you own a motorized vehicle and drive it off of your property, it may need to be registered and insured.

This is the first of three articles. I will discuss optional coverages and how you should decide what limits and deductibles are best for you in the future.

Bob Hollick is a State Farm Insurance agent based in Washington.

To submit columns on financial planning, investing or business-related matters, email Rick Shrum at rshrum@observer-reporter.com.

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