Insurance Claims FAQ
Do I have insurance for lost income caused by Pennsylvania car accident injuries?
A: Pennsylvania car accident wage loss insurance coverage is a benefit available on some Pennsylvania car insurance policies. You can recover 80% of your average monthly earnings if, when you bought your car insurance, you purchased Income Loss coverage as part of your First Party Benefits. Like the other first party benefits, this coverage will result in payments to you even if the accident was your fault. Income Loss coverage is not required by law and, as a result, many motorists do not have this extra coverage. If you don’t have Income Loss coverage and the accident was caused by a careless driver, you still will be able to recover for lost earnings from the at-fault driver — but not until your case settles. If you don’t have Income Loss coverage under your policy and you caused the accident, then you will not be able to recover for lost earnings.
How does 'stacking' work in Pennsylvania auto insurance?
A: If you elect to “stack” your Pennsylvania car insurance, then your Unisured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage will be equal to the sum of the coverage that applies to all of your vehicles. In other words: If you have Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage of $100,000 per person/$300,000 per accident and you own two vehicles, and you choose “stacking,” then your total coverage would be $200,000 per person/$600,000 per accident.
How does Pennsylvania Underinsured Motorist Coverage work?
A: It works this way: Imagine Jane, a young woman who is involved in a horrible car accident caused by a drunk driver and who is disfigured as a result of the accident. Let’s assume that the drunk driver has only the mandatory minimum coverage of $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident. With fractures, permanent scarring, and permanent impairment, Jane’s case would have a value far in excess of $15,000. But because the drunk driver has only $15,000 in coverage, that is all the drunk driver’s insurance company would pay Jane.
If Jane had Underinsured Motorist Coverage, then her own insurance company could pay the difference between what she was entitled to receive and what the drunk driver’s insurance company can pay her. So, Underinsured Motorist Coverage applies when the at-fault driver has some insurance but not enough to make things right.
How much your case is worth is often a subject of dispute between injured people and their insurance companies. Sometimes, injured people don’t know how much their injuries are worth and they’re not sure if they should trust their insurance company.
How does Pennsylvania Uninsured Motorist Coverage work?
Uninsured Motorist Coverage works like this: Let’s say a fictional young woman named Jane is stopped in a line of traffic while waiting for the red light to change. A drunk driver rear-ends her vehicle at a high speed and causes Jane to suffer injuries to her leg and face that require surgery and that leave her scarred and with a permanent limp. The drunk driver has no insurance.
If Jane has Uninsured Motorist Coverage, then her insurance company will pay her for the harm that she suffered (up to the limit of the coverage that she bought) in the amount that the drunk driver would have been responsible to pay her. On the other hand, if Jane doesn’t have “U” Coverage, and the drunk driver has no assets (and many uninsured drivers don’t), then there may be no way for Jane to get compensation for the harm she suffered.
How much the insurance company will pay is often a subject of dispute between injured people and their insurance companies. Sometimes, injured people don’t know how much their injuries are worth and they’re not sure if they should trust their insurance company. (They’re right to be skeptical of their insurance company.)
I was convicted of drunk driving and now my Pennsylvania auto insurance company has cancelled my policy. Can they do that?
A: Yes. In Pennsylvania, automobile insurance companies are permitted to cancel or non-renew an insurance policy if the insured’s driver’s license has been suspended. A license suspension is one of the consequences of a conviction for driving under the influence (DUI).
My Pennsylvania auto insurance company cancelled my policy (or decided not to renew it). Now what do I do?
A. Pennsylvania automobile insurance companies are permitted to cancel or non-renew insurance policies, but not for any reason. Thus, it is possible that your insurance company may have made a mistake, and it is possible that cancellation or non-renewal in your case is not permitted.
The first you thing you should do is call your agent and/or the insurance company directly and ask for a detailed explanation of the reason you were cancelled. If you’re not happy with the explanation you receive, and you suspect that your insurance company acted mistakenly or has an otherwise invalid reason for cancelling your policy, you should contact the Pennsylvania Insurance Department. If you can’t find what you’re looking for by clicking on the link, try an e-mail to the department at [email protected] or call the department’s toll-free automated hotline at 814-273-2010 .
Time is important, so don’t delay. You have only 30 days of the company’s mailing of the notice of cancellation or non-renewal to submit a statement to the insurance department detailing your reasons for disagreeing with the actions of the insurance company. If you don’t act quickly, you may lose important rights.
My Pennsylvania automobile insurance policy was canceled because I did not pay my premium on time. Can they do that?
A. Yes. Pennsylvania automobile insurance companies are not required to extend a grace period for premium payments. So, if your insurance company does not receive your premium payment by the due date, the company is legally permitted to cancel your policy.
Should I buy 'U' Coverage as part of my Pennsylvania car insurance?
A: “U” coverage, otherwise known as uninsured motorist coverage or underinsured motorist coverage, is one of the most important coverages that you can buy to protect yourself and your family from the risks of Pennsylvania car accidents.
There are many uninsured and underinsured drivers in Pennsylvania. One national study found that one in six drivers throughout the United States has no car insurance. Of those drivers who do have insurance, many do not have enough insurance. Because the mandatory liability limits in Pennsylvania are so low ($15,000 is the minimum amount that Pennsylvania drivers are required to buy), and because many people buy only as much insurance as the law requires (and no more), there are far too many people who cause accidents and who do not have enough coverage to compensate the people who they harm. We buy “U” Coverage for ourselves and for our families, and we recommend that our friends, neighbors, and everyone else in Pennsylvania buy “U” Coverage, too.
Should I buy Pennsylvania Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
A: There are countless uninsured drivers in Pennsylvania, despite that fact that the law requires every driver to be insured. One national study found that one in every six drivers in the United States is uninsured. Further, our experience has been that these illegal drivers seem to be involved in a disproportionate number of serious accidents which cause great harm to innocent drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and bicyclists. If an uninsured driver causes an accident in which you or your children are seriously injured – and you don’t have Uninsured Motorist Coverage – no one will pay for the harm caused to you.
What are First Party Benefits in a Pennsylvania Car Insurance Policy?
A: First Party Benefits is a term used to describe several important insurance coverages that you buy from your Pennsylvania car insurance company. First Party Benefits includes coverage for your medical expenses and wage loss. Sometimes, the term is used to describe additional coverages that apply to protect you in the event that the driver who caused the accident is either uninsured (Uninsured Motorist Coverage) or has insufficient coverage to fully compensate you for the loss caused by the accident (Underinsured Motorist Coverage).
What are the mandatory minimum levels of coverage for car liability insurance in Pennsylvania?
A: The mandatory minimum levels of liability insurance for car owners in Pennsylvania were established in 1974 and have never been adjusted for inflation. Pennsylvania auto insurance laws currently require car owners to have a minimum of $15,000 in bodily injury liability coverage per person and $30,000 in bodily injury liability coverage per accident. An additional $5,000 in property damage liability coverage is also required.
These mandatory minimums are among the lowest in the United States. Following is a chart showing the mandatory minimum coverage levels required in other states. The coverage is expressed as personal injury liability required per person/per accident/and property damage liability, e.g., Pennsylvania’s minimum coverage requirements are expressed $15/$30/$5.
State-by-State Minimum Requirements
- Alaska 50/100/25
- Alabama 20/40/10
- Arkansas 25/50/15
- Arizona 15/30/10
- California 15/30/5
- Colorado 25/50/15
- Connecticut 20/40/10
- Delaware 15/30/5
- Florida 10/20/10
- Georgia 15/30/10
- Hawaii 20/40/10
- Idaho 20/50/15
- Illinois 20/40/15
- Indiana 25/50/10
- Iowa 20/40/15
- Kansas 25/50/10
- Kentucky 25/50/10
- Louisiana 10/20/10
- Maine 50/100/25
- Maryland 20/40/10
- Massachusetts 20/40/5
- Michigan 20/40/10
- Minnesota 30/60/10
- Mississippi 25/50/25
- Missouri 25/50/10
- Montana 25/50/10
- Nebraska 25/50/25
- New Hampshire 25/50/25
- New Jersey 15/30/5
- New Mexico 25/50/10
- Nevada 15/30/10
- New York 25/50/10
- North Carolina 30/60/25
- North Dakota 25/50/25
- Ohio 12.5/25/7.5
- Oklahoma 10/20/10
- Oregon 25/50/10
- Pennsylvania 15/30/5
- Rhode Island 25/50/25
- South Carolina 25/50/25
- South Dakota 25/50/25
- Tennessee 25/50/10
- Texas 20/40/15
- Utah 25/65/15
- Virginia 25/50/20
- Vermont 25/50/10
- Washington 25/50/10
- Wisconsin 25/50/10
- West Virginia 20/40/10
- Wyoming 25/50/20
What is 'Stacking' on a Pennsylvania car insurance policy?
A: The Stacking Option on Pennsylvania car insurance policies, or “stacking” for short, is an option on Pennsylvania automobile insurance polices that allows people with more than one vehicle to inexpensively increase the limits of their Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage. That is, “stacking” enables you to increase your “U” Coverage for a relatively small cost. Stacking is not required by law, but it is an option on most Pennsylvania car insurance policies.
What is 'U' Coverage in a Pennsylvania auto insurance policy?
A: “U” Coverage is shorthand for Uninsured Motorist Coverage and Underinsured Motorist Coverage. “U” Coverage is not required by law, but it is extremely important and should be purchased by everyone in Pennsylvania because of the great number of uninsured and underinsured drivers on our roadways.
Pennsylvania uninsured motorist coverage will protect you in the event that you’re injured as a result of the carelessness of a driver who is uninsured. If you’re injured because of a “phantom” vehicle, i.e. a Pennsylvania hit-and-run accident in which the guilty driver is never identified, your uninsured motorist coverage will protect you up to the limits that you purchased.
Pennsylvania underinsured motorist coverage will protect you if you’re injured as a result of the carelessness of a driver who has insurance but not enough. For example, the minimum coverage that Pennsylvania drivers are required to purchase is $15,000. If you’ve been seriously injured, $15,000 won’t begin to make you whole when you consider your medical bills, your lost wages, your pain and suffering, and other harm. So, if you’ve been seriously injured by an underinsured driver, your underinsured motorist coverage (if you bought some) will protect you up to the limits that you purchased.
What is a Pennsylvania car insurance 'surcharge'?
A: Surcharge is a term that insurance companies use to describe a temporary increase in your premium, usually because you were involved in an accident or were penalized for a moving vehicle violation or received a suspension of your driving privileges. The exact surcharge details can be found in your Pennsylvania car insurance policy or its endorsements.
What is Pennsylvania Underinsured Motorist Coverage?
A: Pennsylvania Underinsured Motorist Coverage is a coverage that you buy from your insurance company. If you’ve purchase underinsured motorist coverage and you’re injured in a car accident caused by a driver who doesn’t have enough insurance coverage to make you whole, then your insurance company will make up the difference between the total value of your case and the coverage that the at-fault driver purchased.
Consider this scenario: You are hit from behind and injured. Your case, including lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering, is worth $100,000. The driver who hit you only has $15,000 in coverage. If you bought underinsured motorist coverage, your insurance company will make up the difference and pay you $85,000 (assuming that you purchased at least $85,000 in underinsured motorist coverage).
How much your case is worth is often a subject of dispute between injured people and their insurance companies. Sometimes, injured people don’t know how much their injuries are worth and they’re not sure if they should trust their insurance company. (They’re right to be skeptical of their insurance company. See, for example, our real-life stories about the insurance company that claimed not to know its own coverage and the insurance company whose evaluation increased by over 600%.) Moreover, injured people often don’t know how to make the insurance company pay when the insurance company refuses to be fair on its own.
What is Uninsured Motorist Coverage in a Pennsylvania car insurance policy?
A: Uninsured Motorist Coverage is the coverage that will protect you if you are harmed by a driver who has no insurance, or if you are the victim of a Pennsylvania hit & run accident and the other driver is never identified (the so-called “phantom vehicle” accident). If you buy Uninsured Motorist Coverage and an uninsured driver injures you, your insurance company will pay to compensate you for your injuries — up to the limits of the coverage that you purchased.
Where can I find what coverages I have on my Pennsylvania car insurance policy?
A: You can find the coverages that you purchased, and the limits for each coverage, on the “declarations page” of your automobile insurance policy. All of the coverages that you purchase, and the limit of each type of coverage, are set forth on this document. You’ll also get a copy of this document with your bill every year.