Pennsylvania car insurance laws

1
joe daniel price/Getty Images

At Bankrate we strive to help you make smarter financial decisions. While we adhere to strict , this post may contain references to products from our partners. Here’s an explanation for

As is true in most states, car insurance is required for Pennsylvania drivers. In 2019, there were 125,267 accidents reported in Pennsylvania, and 1,059 deaths. Because of these high numbers, Pennsylvania insurance laws are strictly enforced, and it pays for you to understand your minimum requirements, as well as optional coverages that can provide more robust coverage.

Car insurance laws in Pennsylvania

The minimum insurance you are required to carry is 15/30/5. But what do these numbers mean? They refer to your liability coverage, and include the following:

  • $15,000 bodily injury (BI) liability: If you have minimum coverage, this is the maximum your insurer will pay the other driver or their passengers for a single injury in an accident you cause.
  • $30,000 BI total: This is the maximum your insurer will cover if there are multiple injuries following an at-fault accident.
  • $5,000 property damage (PD) liability: This is the amount your insurer will cover if you damage or total the other driver’s car or cause damage to property such as a fence or light post.

In addition to this liability coverage, Pennsylvania car insurance laws require you to carry $5,000 PIP coverage, which will pay up to that amount for your medical expenses after an accident, no matter who was at fault.

The average cost for liability plus PIP minimum coverage in Pennsylvania is $371 annually, $192 less than the national average for minimum coverage, which is $563. Full coverage in Pennsylvania, which includes collision and comprehensive, averages $1,606 annually, compared to $1,738 at the national level.

Liability insurance in Pennsylvania

Liability, in a legal sense, means that you are responsible for something — in this case, the costs of an accident. Pennsylvania auto insurance requirements are fairly low compared to other states, and many insurance experts would recommend that you carry more than the Pennsylvania minimum car insurance.

Consider, for example, an accident that occurs because you are in a hurry and run a red light, hitting a car in the intersection waiting to make a left turn. If the driver is injured seriously enough to require surgery or extensive after-care, the $15,000 coverage would be used up in a few days. After that, all costs would have to come out of your pocket.

Is Pennsylvania a no-fault state?

Pennsylvania is one of the 12 states in the U.S. that are no-fault states. No-fault laws were originally designed to keep accident-related lawsuits out of the courts. In no-fault states you apply to your own insurer for claims rather than the other driver’s insurance, and you carry PIP coverage.

Pennsylvania is unique among no-fault states, however, in offering drivers two options regarding their rights to sue: limited tort or full tort. You will make this choice when you purchase car insurance, and it will remain in force until your renewal.

Limited tort insurance costs less, but it also takes away some of your rights to sue the other driver following an accident they cause. You will not be able to sue for pain and suffering (non-economic losses) except under certain circumstances. Full tort insurance costs more, but you retain your rights to sue for medical costs as well as pain and suffering.

Penalties for driving without insurance in Pennsylvania

Always carry your insurance card with you when you’re behind the wheel or you will be cited. Pennsylvania takes driving without insurance seriously, and there are several penalties you may face if you do not have proof of insurance when you are stopped by a police officer. If convicted, your vehicle registration and driver’s license will be suspended for three months. You will also face a fine of $300, as well as fees to restore your registration and license.

Additional auto insurance coverage options in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania drivers have access to a number of optional types of coverage that can help them customize a policy to fit their own circumstances. Some of the most common include:

  • Collision: This covers damage to your car in an accident. It comes with a deductible that you choose when you purchase your policy. If you lease your car or have a car loan, this coverage may be required by your lender.
  • Comprehensive: Usually bundled with collision, this covers damage caused by non-accident-related mishaps, such as theft, vandalism or a natural disaster — for example, if a tree fell on your car in a windstorm. It, too, has a deductible and is often required for leases or loans.
  • Uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) motorist: Approximately 8% of Pennsylvania drivers are on the road illegally without insurance. If you are in an accident with one of them, you would benefit from having UM/UIM coverage to help pay your costs. It will also pay for expenses if you are the victim of a hit-and-run driver.
  • Gap insurance: If you total your car, you may receive a check from your insurer, but it will be for the car’s depreciated value. If you owe more than that on a car loan, this coverage will pay the difference between the car’s value and what you owe.
  • Towing and labor: This coverage kicks in if you need roadside assistance. It will pay for towing, jump starts, lockout help and more. Read your policy carefully to know the scope of this coverage option, as it varies from insurer to insurer.

Frequently asked questions

What is the best car insurance company in Pennsylvania?

There are a number of companies writing solid policies in Pennsylvania. To find the one that is best for your purposes, ask around and get some online quotes — look for a company that is financially sound, with low rates and excellent customer service. A good place to start your search is with Bankrate’s Best Car Insurance in Pennsylvania 2021 page.

What is the cheapest car insurance company in Pennsylvania?

The cheapest car insurance will vary from one person to another because it’s based on personal factors such as your car’s age and model, your driving record and credit rating, and more. Our listing of the Cheapest Car Insurance in Pennsylvania 2021 highlights the companies that generally offer the best rates.

Written by
Mary Van Keuren
Insurance Contributor
Mary Van Keuren has five years of experience writing for insurance domains such as Bankrate.com, Coverage.com and Thesimpledollar.com. She has also written extensively for consumer websites including reviews.com and myslumberyard.com. Prior to that she worked as a writer in academia for several decades.