Buying a car or auto insurance in Pennsylvania can seem daunting. The reality is that there are many things a prospective car insurance buyer should know. However, many folks simply rely on a car insurance agent to make important selections for them.
One of the most important selections a car insurance buyer will make is how much bodily insurance coverage to buy. There is no formula to determine how much bodily insurance coverage a particular person needs to buy. There are many factors which must be considered, such as assets, liabilities, income, ownership of property, business income, business ownership, and other financial responsibilities.
What Bodily Injury Coverage Does
The purpose of bodily injury coverage is to protect the insured driver from their own negligence. For example, if you caused an accident, you could be sued. Your car insurance policy will protect you by paying up to the amount of the bodily injury coverage purchased. So if you purchased $15,000 of bodily injury liability, which is the state minimum required in Pennsylvania, then your car insurance company will pay up to $15,000 per person (and with split limits, up to a maximum of $30,000 per accident).
As a general rule, the more assets you have, the more insurance protection you will want to purchase. While of course, Pennsylvania drivers are not required to buy any more than the required minimum limit of $15,000, it is advisable to purchase a higher amount which correlates to the value of your assets. For instance, homeowners may want to consider buying a car insurance policy with a higher amount, such as $100,000, $200,000 or more. The exact amount depends on the total assets a person has.
Bodily Injury Coverage and UIM/UM Coverage Amounts are Usually the Same
There is another, more important reason to buy sufficient bodily injury coverage – the bodily injury coverage limits will equal the UIM/UM coverage amount. In Pennsylvania, UIM and UM coverage may be waived. However, these coverages are crucial and protect you from another driver’s negligence and financial irresponsibility.
Many Pennsylvania drivers only purchase car insurance policies with minimum bodily injury protection ($15,000). If you are injured due to negligence of another driver who has a minimum limit policy, and you have UIM/UM coverage, then you could make a UIM claim for up to the amount you purchased on your policy. So, for example, if you suffer serious injuries due to the negligence of a driver who only has a $15,000 policy, you would first obtain $15,000 from the driver’s insurance carrier and then institute a claim for UIM benefits under your own car insurance policy.
The catch is that the amount of UIM/UM coverage on your policy cannot exceed what you elected for your bodily injury coverage amounts. You can elect UIM/UM coverage lower than your bodily injury coverage, but never higher. See 75 Pa. C.S.A. 1734 and 75 Pa. C.S.A. 1736.
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