UPDATED: DECEMBER 13, 2022 | 2 MIN READ
Trying to find the right car insurance in Pennsylvania can be a stressful endeavor. But for motorists who want to drive legally, following the letter of the law is key. Below, drivers can find helpful information on basic legal requirements for Pennsylvania car insurance.
Pennsylvania Car Insurance Minimum Requirements
Like many other states, Pennsylvania drivers are only required to carry liability coverage. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, drivers require $15,000 of bodily injury coverage per person and $30,000 in total.
But unlike other states, Pennsylvania also requires first-party benefit (FPB) coverage to cover their and their passengers’ medical expenses. The minimum amount of FPB coverage is $5,000. This medical benefit pays out regardless of who is at fault for the accident.
Liability coverage in Pennsylvania
Liability coverage is the most important car insurance coverage a driver can purchase because it’s legally required in most states. Usually, the at-fault driver’s liability coverage will pay for any injuries or property damage sustained by the other party. But things work a little differently for most Pennsylvania motorists.
State-mandated auto insurance limits you should know
Pennsylvania is a no-fault state. This means a driver’s liability coverage pays insurance claims for bodily injury to themselves and any passenger(s) in the car. It also pays for property damages. This makes it easier for some motorists to determine whether their 15/30/5 mandatory minimum split is a sufficient amount of coverage or whether they need to purchase more.
When purchasing car insurance in Pennsylvania, drivers must choose between a full or limited-tort auto insurance policy. If an accident is particularly egregious, the plaintiff can sue the at-fault driver (and their insurance company) for damages instead of relying upon their liability coverage by default.
Limited-tort auto insurance is usually cheaper but limits what an injured party can sue for in court. Full-tort auto insurance comes with more expensive premiums, but the amounts and types of damages an injured motorist can sue for are virtually limitless.
Are Pennsylvania’s minimum requirements providing enough coverage?
Pennsylvania drivers have an easier time figuring out how much liability coverage to purchase since they live in a no-fault state. Assuming they never have to sue anyone for causing a particularly heinous wreck, they can adjust their limits to how much their vehicle might cost to repair or replace. In the event of an at-fault accident in which the injured party sues for tort, however, the state minimums may be insufficient. This is especially true considering that tort lawsuits usually have to meet a specific (and usually expensive) threshold before they can take the case to court.
Pennsylvania drivers must use their best judgment when determining how much liability coverage is right for them. The standard industry suggestion is to purchase as much as one can afford since purchasing higher dollar amounts of coverage will directly increase monthly premiums. While this extra expense may seem undesirable, it helps protect drivers who get sued for tort. If the driver is found guilty and must pay out damages – but the liability limits fall short of covering all the damages they owe – the injured party can come after their liquid assets.
Penalties for driving without proof of insurance in Pennsylvania
Driving without insurance is illegal in Pennsylvania, just like it is in every other state. This law helps protect drivers from having their lives turned upside-down in the event of a serious accident that they cannot afford to pay for with their own finances. The table below illustrates the penalties a driver can expect to pay for driving without insurance:
|Type of Penalty||Consequence|
|Suspensions||A three-month suspension of both the driver’s license and their vehicle registration|
|Restoration Fees||Motorists who violate the law will have to pay three separate fees: one to restore the vehicle’s registration, one to restore their driver’s license, and possibly an extra fee to restore their commercial driver’s license|
Keep in mind there are some caveats to this process:
- The DoT Schedule of Fees clearly spells out how much a motorist will have to pay for their registration restoration fee based on the size and type of vehicle.
- Drivers can avoid their three-month suspension if they can present proof of insurance within 31 days of the day their insurance lapse began (NOT within 31 days of the date on which they were cited for the violation)
- Once per year, a motorist can choose to pay a $500 civil penalty in lieu of the three-month suspension (in addition to all required restoration fees) if they can’t provide proof of insurance within the 31-day grace period
Pennsylvania’s optional car insurance coverage
Motorists who have the means and want to protect their assets should consider adding optional coverage benefits to any Pennsylvania car insurance policy. Those include:
- Comprehensive & collision – these additions are “full coverage” options (although it is possible to purchase them separately). Full coverage will likely be required if you are still making loan payments on a newer vehicle or leasing your vehicle. These coverages protect against property damage from collisions with other drivers (especially for drivers who are deemed at fault), objects, animals, or damages resulting from weather or theft.
- Gap coverage – for newer financed vehicles, this coverage makes up the difference between the depreciated actual cash value (ACV) of the vehicle and what the driver still owes on the remaining balance of the loan (which is usually much higher than the cash value, making it difficult to replace the vehicle with the ACV payment alone)
- Income loss benefit – if an accident renders the policyholder unable to work for a significant amount of time, they will recoup 80% of their lost wages from this benefit
- Uninsured motorist coverage – this coverage helps bridge the gap between getting medical bills paid right away and waiting for an at-fault driver without liability coverage to pay for those bills
- Roadside assistance coverage – this invaluable (and fairly inexpensive) optional add-on helps drivers who get stranded on the road due to minor vehicular mishaps, such as running out of gas, a dead battery, or a flat tire, to name a few. If assistance can’t fix the vehicle and get it moving again, they will tow it to the nearest garage for free
Why it’s important to follow Pennsylvania car insurance laws and requirements
Yes, for most people, auto insurance in Pennsylvania (or auto insurance in general) may seem like a “scam”. But in reality, it’s a small price to pay for how much a driver might be on the hook if they gamble and choose to drive illegally without it.
If a motorist gets into a serious accident without insurance, they could be legally responsible for hundreds of thousands of dollars in property damage, medical bills, lost wages to the injured party, and more. But the average Pennsylvania driver only pays about $1,200 per year for their car insurance, meaning that over the course of 10 years, that $12,000 of purchased insurance protection can shield them from a mountain of debt should they cause a serious accident.
How much does the minimum car insurance cost in Pennsylvania?
It’s hard to predict how much the average Pennsylvania driver should pay for their minimum car insurance requirements. Age, credit score, type of vehicle, and zip code can increase or decrease premiums.
For civilians, GEICO offers the cheapest rates around; but personal circumstances could change that for some drivers. USAA, an insurance company designed with military service members in mind, only charges an average of $374 for annual premiums – unfortunately, they don’t offer policies to motorists unaffiliated with the US Armed Forces.
Cheapest minimum liability car insurance in Pennsylvania
The quotes in the chart below only reflect the cost of Pennsylvania’s minimum auto insurance requirements. For drivers who want or need additional coverage, rates will go higher with each optional add-on purchased.
Minimum car insurance requirement in Pennsylvania when leasing a car
Companies who lease their vehicles out to customers want to protect their investment – therefore, their insurance requirements are higher. These requirements usually include adding full coverage options to the policy and increasing liability coverage to a minimum of $100k/$300k/$50k.
Below are some of the most common questions Pennsylvania drivers have about basic state auto insurance requirements:
Does Pennsylvania require personal injury protection (PIP)?
Yes, personal injury protection is required, but it goes by another name in Pennsylvania. It’s known as first-party benefit coverage (FPB).
Does Pennsylvania auto insurance follow the car or the driver?
Pennsylvania drivers don’t have to worry about letting someone they trust borrow their vehicle. Even if someone else gets into an accident in the insured vehicle, their insurance policy covers the damages.
Question 3: Do Pennsylvania drivers have to apply for SR-22 insurance instead of minimum liability coverage after a DUI?
Drivers do not have to apply for DUI auto insurance in Pennsylvania if convicted of the crime. But they will face severe penalties and fees.
Get Coverage That Meets Pennsylvania’s Car Insurance Requirments
If they shop around, drivers could pay as little as $46 per month for their Pennsylvania car insurance policy. But that’s the bare minimum in order to drive legally, and may leave some motorists financially liable for damages if they cause a serious accident. We help drivers compare rates and coverages in order to make sure they get the auto policy that’s right for them.