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Full Coverage Auto Insurance vs. Full Tort Insurance Coverage

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As an attorney who represents victims in car accidents in Philadelphia, the surrounding suburbs, and New Jersey, I am often asked questions by my clients about their car insurance policies. Unfortunately, these questions are asked after someone has been involved in a car crash, and they are now looking at their car insurance policy for the first time. One question that often confuses consumers is what is the difference between “full coverage” auto insurance as compared to “full tort” coverage. Is full tort the same as full coverage? No. The main difference between full tort insurance and full coverage insurance is “Full coverage insurance” generally means the minimum coverage required by law, whereas “full tort insurance” means full recovery or full right to sue for all damages available under the law.

What is Full Coverage Auto Insurance?

The term “full coverage” automobile insurance is a misleading term. In the automobile insurance industry, full coverage insurance generally means “minimum coverage” required by law to drive. Full Coverage means you are “legal.” You have purchased the minimum auto coverage required by the state to protect someone else. This coverage pays the costs of the other person’s damages for which you are found liable. So if you have full coverage, you certainly may not be fully covered. Rather, you simply have the minimum amount of insurance to protect an injury to someone else for the injuries suffered in a car accident that is your fault.

Minimum “Full Coverage” Auto Insurance in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, you are required to carry Medical Benefits (called no-fault insurance) and Liability Car Insurance. The following minimums apply to have full coverage insurance:

  1. Bodily Injury Liability Cost: $15,000 per person/$30,000 per accident
  2. Medical Benefits Cost: $5,000
  3. Property Damage Cost: $5,000 per accident.

Minimum “Full Coverage” Insurance for Autos in New Jersey

In New Jersey, there is an option called a “basic policy” that would be considered by the auto insurance industry as “legal” or “full coverage” to allow someone to drive in New Jersey. However, this New Jersey basic policy only covers the following:

  1. Bodily Injury Liability Cost: $15,000
  2. Medical Benefits Cost: $15,000
  3. Property Damage Cost: $5,000 per accident.

What is Full Tort Insurance Coverage?

A tort is a wrongful act or civil wrong that gives rise to injury. Full Tort insurance coverage simply means “full recovery” or “full right to sue” for all damages that have always been available under the law, including pain and suffering, lost wages, medical expenses, future medical expenses, etc. Full Tort allows you to bring all your claims in a car accident including pain and suffering. As opposed to Full Tort, some consumers have chosen limited tort, discussed in more detail in another blog. “Limited Tort” means “limited recovery of damages” or “limited ability to sue” for certain damages such as pain and suffering. Full tort and limited tort are not the same as full coverage and liability coverage – we’re talking about two different aspects of insurance.

Philadelphia Lawyer With Inside Knowledge of Car Insurance

The Pearce Law Firm’s founder, Edith Pearce worked as a lawyer for an automobile insurance company and then for a defense law firm for many years before deciding to represent injured victims of car accidents in Philadelphia, the suburbs, and South Jersey.

Her goal was to explain how injured victims could protect themselves against insurance company tactics after a car or auto accident. If you have not chosen full tort, there are exceptions to get around limited tort that a lawyer experienced in automobile insurance can help. We can determine how to navigate your way through your insurance policy and figure out if you may qualify for “full tort” even if you chose limited tort.

We know the “tricks of the trade” and can help best represent you against the insurance company. The insurance company has lawyers, why not you? We know how to build your case and the strategies needed to get you the maximum compensation. Call (215) 557-8686 for a free consultation.

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