Written by attorney Sean E. Quinn


Do you carry Full Tort or Limited Tort coverage on your Pennsylvania auto insurance?

You are not alone if you don’t know the answer. Most Pennsylvanians would be hard-pressed to answer the question, let alone be able to explain the difference. The answer to this question is, however, tremendously important, and one that all Pennsylvanians must understand.

Insurance companies issuing automobile insurance policies in Pennsylvania are required by law to give consumers the option of selecting Full Tort or Limited Tort coverage. Here is what you need to know:

Full Tort: The Full Tort option provides you and the members of your household with an unlimited right to make a claim for compensation as a result of a car accident that causes injury or damages. With the Full Tort option, a person injured in a car accident can make a claim for economic damages (i.e. lost wages, medical bills, property damage, out-of-pocket expenses) and non-economic damages (i.e. pain and suffering, inconvenience, loss of enjoyment of life) without limitation. Consumers with the Full Tort option maintain all of their legal rights to make a claim for injury and damages irrespective of how severe injury may be.

Limited Tort: The Limited Tort option places significant restrictions on your right to make a claim for accident-related injuries and damages. With the Limited Tort option, a person injured in a car accident can still make a claim for all economic damages (i.e. lost wages), but can only make a claim for non-economic damages (i.e. pain and suffering) if the injuries are serious. A serious injury is defined an injury resulting in death or a serious impairment of bodily function or permanent disfigurement, and is often difficult to establish.

Insurance companies often “steer" consumers to policies providing for the Limited Tort coverage under the guise that it is cheaper than the Full Tort alternative. The reality though is that the cost savings are often nominal, and certainly not enough to justify a consumer waiving the right to make a claim if he or she is injured due to the fault of another driver.

Make no mistake, insurance industry pushes the Limited Tort option because it is benefits insurance companies and hurts consumers. Consumers with Limited Tort would be wise to make the switch to Full Tort coverage. Full Tort ensures the preservation of your rights and the rights of your family, and is what I recommend to my family, friends, and clients.

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