Read on to learn about the differences between full tort vs. limited tort insurance and why you might choose one option over the other.
Tort, torte, torque – the i.e. Insurance team has heard it called all of those names over the years! Part of what we do as insurance agents is educate clients regarding insurance coverage, and in this article, we want to discuss a doozy: full tort vs. limited tort.
Partly because it’s hugely important, partly because we’ve been told many times we do a great job explaining it, and partly because we love to provide knowledge to our clients and our community.
Since insurance is such a price driven industry, many companies (and agents) out there are simply asking what policy options you have now, duplicating, and hopefully winning you over with a few bucks of savings.
If that’s the experience you’ve had recently, you are being short-changed – big-time!
Limited or Full Tort: The Definitions
First, we must share with you some legal definitions, just as a CYA. These are compliments of Nationwide Insurance Personal Auto Policy Form 16072(08-15)37:
Limited Tort Definition
Limited Tort: 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.
Under this form of insurance, you and other household members covered under this policy may seek recovery for all medical costs and other out-of-pocket expenses, but not for pain and suffering or other non monetary damages unless the injuries suffered 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 Definition
Full Tort: The laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania give you the right to choose a form of insurance under which you maintain an unrestricted right for you and the members of your household to seek financial compensation for injuries caused by other drivers.
Under this form of insurance, you and other household members covered under this policy may seek recovery for all medical and other out-of-pocket expenses and may also seek financial compensation for pain and suffering and other non monetary damages as a result of injuries caused by other drivers.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s go back to plain English.
Learn More About Limited Tort Insurance
Limited tort – AKA the cheaper option – when you are involved in an accident that is someone else’s fault, you are typically only allowed to recover from that responsible person ‘tangible’ losses. Tangible losses are things that you could easily provide a verification of the cost or a receipt for. Great examples of tangible losses are damage to your car, medical bills, time out of work because of an accident.
What you are NOT allowed to recover are things that are ‘intangible.’ Intangible items could be pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of future income earnings, and diminished value of your vehicle.
Learn More About Full Tort Insurance
Full tort – AKA the higher cost option – you have unrestricted rights to attempt to recover anything you see fit. Pain and suffering, mental anguish, you name it. Now this doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to get a payout, it just means you can try. You have full rights, hence the term full tort. So, in the event of a car accident that is not your fault, you can attempt to recover more financial compensation from that other driver.
That still doesn’t really explain a ton, so I’m going to cover a few of the common things people ask when we are talking about tort, and offer a couple stories in later posts. Stay tuned, and call us if you want more info now!
Questions and Comments from Clients
I am not sue-happy, so I don’t need full tort insurance.
I would not define many people I’ve met as ‘sue-happy.’ Tort is more about what is important to you.
Things like facial scars don’t have monetary value. I’m not a very self-conscious person with my image, but if I developed a nasty scar on my face, I might want some compensation for that. Makeup is something I don’t buy now, and from what I know that stuff isn’t cheap! So, full tort covers those things which your typical auto insurance will not give coverage for.
Would you feel differently if it was your child that developed that facial scar that they are living with for the rest of their life? Your kids get what you picked for them in limited tort car insurance until they are old enough to have their own policies!
What if I have limited tort and I’m paralyzed?
Remember in the definition there are some cases of personal injury where intangible losses are able to be recovered. Serious injury is one of those. Here’s the problem. What exactly is serious injury, and who defines it? Unfortunately, it’s a gray area, and something that fluctuates from time to time.
Sure, the biggies can be consistent, paralysis, loss of a limb, loss of eyesight, death, but what about things that are serious to you but not verifiable? Neck pain, back pain, migraines. There are no tests you can go through that definitively show you are having a migraine and what the severity is. It’s all in how you feel, which is subjective.
While we’re on the exceptions, let’s talk about the other few… First, if the at-fault driver is from a state that doesn’t have tort. This is just because counter-suing is a normal court practice, and since that other driver wasn’t given an option to select a limited tort, they are getting full so you do too.
Second, if you are involved in a pedestrian accident. If someone bowls you over with their car, or even just bumps you, that is a full tort accident.
Third, if the at fault party was committing a crime. I think of the big ones like DUI or evading police, but it’s still to be determined if they actually have to be charged with the crime and have it stick in order for you to get the full tort rights.
Am I stuck with whatever I pick forever?
Nope, not at all. You are able to change your selection at any time during your policy, except the day after something happens that you wanted what you don’t have.
Changing the tort option requires a policy endorsement (our fancy insurance word for making the change) along with your signature on an acknowledgement form, and can only be updated moving forward from the day we speak with you.
So, if you opt for limited tort insurance at first, you can always switch to a full tort insurance plan and vice versa.
What do you recommend?
Legally, we as licensed insurance agents are not allowed to tell you which one to buy since we are not a law firm. We can explain the policy language, give real life examples, and tell you what we do ourselves, but you have to make the decision of choosing between full tort coverage or limited tort coverage on your own.
Turn to the a Professional Team for Your Limited or Full Tort Insurance
If you need auto insurance, contact the ie. Insurance team and we can go over all the options for limited or full tort auto insurance.
We are available during regular business hours at 724-719-2093 or you can contact us online using our convenient form.