Legislature mulls minimum liability increase

This month’s column deals with a proposal by the legislature in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to raise the current minimum amount of motor vehicle liability insurance from $15,000.00/$30,000.00 per accident, to $30,000.00/$60,000.00 per accident. As such, I have been asked by several clients for my opinion on this proposal and whether I believe the increase would benefit the residents of Pennsylvania.

My answer is whole-heartedly YES, and it’s about time! The current required minimum amounts of liability coverage have been in place since at least 1990 without any increase whatsoever. Obviously, given the rate of inflation, $15,000.00 was worth a whole lot more in 1990 than it is now in 2010.

Currently, in order to legally drive in Pennsylvania, one must purchase liability insurance on their vehicle in the minimum amount of $15,000.00/$30,000.00. What this means is, if you are injured by someone who has purchased the minimum amount, the maximum amount of money you will realistically be able to recover from that person is $15,000.00. The $30,000.00 amount only comes in to play if there are two or more persons claiming injury in the same accident. In other words, if both a rider and a passenger are injured, the maximum that either one of them could recover is $15,000.00 each, for a total of $30,000.00. If you happen to be a passenger in a vehicle with three other passengers and you are injured, the most the four of you could split from the responsible persons insurance policy is $30,000.00.

Most of my clients are unpleasantly surprised when I explain the current minimum required amounts and I think that is why the increase is a long time in coming.

The next obvious question is… will my insurance rates go up? The answer is more than likely yes, however, not by as much as you would think. When you purchase insurance, the liability portion of your premium is only a small portion of the total premium, with the remainder going toward such things as medical coverage, collision, fire, theft, and/or uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. So while your premium will go up, I anticipate that the increase will not be substantial, because as stated, it is only the liability portion of the policy the proposal is seeking to increase. For many of us who already carry limits in an amount greater than the required minimum, our rates, especially the underinsured portion of our premium, may actually go down.

The other added benefit is, if this bill passes, it will give everyone who purchases insurance the right to purchase uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage in the amount of $30,000.00/$60,000.00 per accident. For those of you who read my column on a regular basis, you already know that I am huge proponent of purchasing as much uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage as possible because, you can not, and should not, rely upon the other person’s insurance choices to fully compensate you, if you are injured.

The bottom line is, it is time for Pennsylvania to adjust its minimum insurance amounts to at least keep up with the rate of inflation. Further, this increase is a step in the right direction toward providing that if you are injured in a Pennsylvania motorcycle accident, there will be more insurance available to help compensate you for your motorcycle injury medical bills, motorcycle accident lost wages and allow your motorcycle lawyer to go after more for pain and suffering.

I hope this answers this commonly asked question and as always, I hope you find this information from an experienced Pennsylvania motorcycle accident lawyer informative and if you would like additional information on this topic, or any other, I can always be reached at 1-888-CYCLE-LAW (1-888-292-5352).

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