Tort, Torte, Torque
We’ve heard it called all of those… Part of what we do as insurance agents is evaluate and educate clients regarding insurance coverage. 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!
I’m starting with the doozy – Full Tort vs. Limited Tort. Partly because it’s hugely important, partly because I’ve been told many times I do a great job explaining it, and partly because I have a couple real-life stories that are from personal experience that help you gain perspective and understanding.
I have to first share with you the legal definitions, just as a CYA… Here you go, Compliments of Nationwide Insurance Personal Auto Policy Form 16072(08-15)37:
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 and other out-of-pocket expenses, but not for pain and suffering or other nonmonetary 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 – 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 nonmonetary damages as a result of injuries caused by other drivers.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s go back to English.
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.
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.
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!