Auto Insurance in Pennsylvania and New Jersey

Written By
Kris Angelucci
Posted
July 5, 2021

When it comes to state specific auto insurance coverages, New Jersey and Pennsylvania have their fair share of peculiarities.

Because of these peculiarities, and the proximity of these states to one another, you may find yourself in the unenviable situation of having to understand the differences in the laws, terminology, and coverage options.

We’ll try to address some of the most common similarities and differences in each of these state’s niche coverages.

Verbal and Zero Threshold vs Limited and Full Tort

In Pennsylvania, the type of “tort” option on your auto insurance policy determines your ability as the insured, to sue for non-economic damages like “pain and suffering,”. “Full Tort” gives the policyholder the ability to seek these damages, while “Limited Tort” restricts the policyholder’s ability to seek damages.

In New Jersey, this type of coverage is referred to as “Verbal threshold” for limited tort, and “Zero Threshold” for full tort. Full tort and zero threshold insurance are significantly more expensive than limited tort and verbal threshold insurance.

As an example, let’s say tomorrow I get in a car accident and dislocate my shoulder.

The accident was caused by a reckless driver and wasn’t my fault, so naturally, I want to sue them for pain and suffering! Just as my nerve is reaching an all-time high, I am reminded that I opted for the verbal threshold option on my insurance. Because of this, my dislocated shoulder will not qualify as an eligible loss that I can seek non-economic damages for.

So, why would I choose verbal threshold if it puts me at a legal disadvantage after an accident?

First, zero threshold costs a lot of money. Most of us are looking for ways to save money on our auto insurance, and selecting verbal threshold is a great way to do that.

Second, selecting zero threshold is just superfluous in most cases. Verbal threshold will still allow me to seek additional damages in the event of “severe injury”, such as death or dismemberment, so with all that additional premium for zero threshold, the costs simply outweigh the benefits for most people.

State Minimums

In Pennsylvania, the minimum amount of coverage required is $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident for Bodily Injury, $5,000 for Property Damage, and $5,000 First Party Medical Expense.

In New Jersey, the required state minimum insurance is only $15,000 in Personal Injury Protection per person, and $5,000 for Property Damage. These values refer to the “coverage limit” or the maximum amount the insurance company will pay for each particular coverage.

First Party Medical Benefits and PIP

Pennsylvania has a type of coverage called “First Party Medical Benefit”, which covers medical expenses for the insured and their passengers in the event of an accident, regardless of who is at fault. This coverage is specific to Pennsylvania, and is similar to Personal Injury Protection, or PIP, in New Jersey. PIP covers medical costs, work loss, and funeral costs for you and your passengers in the event of an accident, regardless of who is at fault.

Both Pennsylvania and New Jersey both have “No Fault” insurance laws, which means that if you are involved in an auto accident, your insurance provider will cover your medical expenses under “First Party Benefits” or “PIP”, no matter who is a fault.

What we do:

If you are already insured and we know your prior coverage, we do our best to match what your currently have.

If you are starting from scratch, we curate three sets of quotes for “standard,” “better,” and “great” coverage, that reflect the specific laws and norms of each state.

For First Party Medical Benefits in Pennsylvania, we typically use $5,000, $50,000, and $100,000 for standard, better, and great coverage, respectively.

In New Jersey for Personal Injury Protection, we typically use $50,000, $75,000, and $250,000.

These option may vary based on you and your individual needs. We recommend limited tort and verbal threshold in the majority of cases, so most of our quotes reflect that decision.

If you are already insured and we know your prior coverage, we do our best to match what your currently have.

Either way, our intuitive application process makes it easy to request auto insurance quotes from any state, regardless of state specific coverages, or confusing terminology.

About the Author
Kris Angelucci
Insurance producer, engineer, and world renown Rockstar… okay maybe not an engineer.
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