Before getting auto insurance in Pennsylvania
Nearly every state in the country enforces its own laws on car insurance. Pennsylvania is no exception: To drive here, you’ll need to carry liability insurance, bodily injury insurance and property damage coverage. But you can choose from at-fault or no-fault insurance when you first buy your policy, which isn’t a choice in most states.
Read on to learn more about Pennsylvania’s rules and regulations, as well as how you can save money on your car insurance.
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How to get cheap car insurance in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania’s drivers can expect to pay something in the ballpark of $1,300 annually, which is slightly more than the national average. If you’re moving to Pennsylvania with a driving record that’s free of accidents or serious driving violations, you’ll likely pay that same amount.
The most expensive areas to insure a car are typically neighborhoods around Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. That’s because city living often comes with some additional risk for car accidents, vandalism and theft. In the state’s many small towns and rural areas, you’re likely to find lower insurance rates thanks to fewer people, less crime and not too many cars on the road overall.
How can I save on my car insurance?
Looking for ways to save money on your auto insurance in Pennsylvania? No matter what state you’re in, consider general tips to lower your premiums and get a better value out of your coverage.
State minimum requirements in Pennsylvania
To legally drive in Pennsylvania, you’ll need insurance that includes at least:
- $15,000 bodily injury liability per person per accident
- $30,000 total bodily injury liability per accident
- $5,000 per accident for property damage
What extra coverage can I get in Pennsylvania?
You can also get multiple kinds of optional coverage, including:
- Comprehensive. Helps with repairs that are the result of something other than an accident — like vandalism or fire.
- Collision. Pays for accident-related repairs to your car.
- Additional liability. Helps with damages due to an accident when you’re at fault.
- Rental coverage. Covers costs for a rental, if you need one after an accident.
- Medical expense payments. Covers costs associated with injuries from a car accident, regardless of fault. It could also cover funeral costs for passengers in your vehicle.
Uninsured drivers in Pennsylvania
The Insurance Information Institute estimates about 8% of all Pennsylvania drivers are uninsured. That’s significantly below the national average of 12.5%, but still nothing to ignore.
Tangling with an uninsured driver on the road could potentially leave you with extra costs that your own insurance policy doesn’t cover. It might be a good idea to add uninsured motorist coverage to your policy.
Compare Pennsylvania car insurance
What can I do if I don’t want to buy car insurance in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania is one of a handful of states in the country where there’s no alternative to auto insurance: You must carry the state’s minimum for coverage if you want to drive on public roads. Some states allow drivers to deposit a large cash bond with the state treasury or the DMV for a certificate of self-insurance, but Pennsylvania isn’t one of them.
What happens if I don’t have insurance?
If you’re caught driving without the minimum coverage required in Pennsylvania, you can expect a $300 fine — and possibly a three-month suspension of your driver’s license. It’s also possible the state will impound your car, but such action depends on the severity of your offense and whether it’s the first time you’re caught without car insurance.
Can I buy temporary car insurance in Pennsylvania?
Yes, Pennsylvania allows drivers to purchase temporary insurance. You might need temporary coverage if you drive in Pennsylvania only on vacation or if you’ve just moved to the state and haven’t found the right conventional insurance policy yet.
However, it’s likely that most major insurance providers won’t offer temporary car insurance. You can also expect to pay more per month for temporary coverage than you would with a typical six-month or 12-month policy.
What laws do I need to follow when I’m driving in Pennsylvania?
While it shares a lot of common traffic laws with the rest of the country, Pennsylvania enforces a few standout driving regulations.
- Texting while driving is considered a primary offense in this state, meaning if a police officer sees you texting behind the wheel, they can pull you over and write you a ticket.
- Cars cannot be sold on Sundays.
- Speed limits in this state can be as high as 70 MPH on sections of highways and freeways and as low as 15 MPH in school zones during arrival and departure times.
What’s the Insurance 101 program?
Since 2016, Pennsylvania high school students have had the opportunity to take an interactive car insurance class as part of their curriculum. The class was designed by state insurance departments and teaches high schoolers about how to make good driving decisions and compare car insurance. The class module is now available nationwide online.
What is the blood alcohol limit in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania’s BAC limits are the same as every other state: 0.08% for typical drivers and 0.04% for commercial drivers or professional transporters.
In addition to those limits, the state’s strict underage drinking policy enforces a limit of 0.2% for any drivers younger than 21. If you’re 21c or younger and are caught driving with any alcohol in your system, you could face an unrelated charge for being a minor in possession (MIP) of a controlled substance.
|First offense||Second offense||Third offense|
|Jail||No jail time required||5 days–6 months||10 days–2 years|
|Fines and penalties||$300||$300–$2500||$500–$5000|
|License suspension||No||1 year||1 year|
|ID required||Yes, if driver refuses chemical test||Yes, during restricted license period||Yes, during restricted license period|
Law of implied consent
Pennsylvania, like most states, holds drivers to an implied consent agreement. This means if you’re driving on public roads in Pennsylvania, you’re consenting by default to a portable breath test or breathalyzer if a police officer asks you to take one during a traffic stop. If you refuse, you could face a license suspension plus any associated license reinstatement fees after the suspension is over.
- First refusal: 1-year license suspension
- Second refusal: 18-month suspension
- Third refusal: 18-month suspension
Can I get SR-22 insurance in Pennsylvania?
No, Pennsylvania is one of a few states that doesn’t require SR-22 insurance if you’re convicted of a DUI, accumulate too many violation points on your driving record or if are caught driving without car insurance. An SR-22 isn’t actually a type of insurance, but rather an attachment you file with the state government showing that your car insurance policy meets or exceeds the state minimums for coverage. You will need to maintain your current SR-22 if you’re moving to Pennsylvania from another state.
What happens after an accident in Pennsylvania?
A car accident can leave anyone feeling shaken up, even if it’s a minor fender bender in slow-moving traffic. But by taking the right steps to keep yourself safe and document what happened, you can avoid some of the headaches a car accident can cause.
- Safety first. Make sure everyone on the scene is safe. If anyone is injured, call emergency services right away.
- Exchange information. Get the personal information and insurance information of any other drivers involved in the crash. It can also be good to note details about their vehicle, if anything stands out to you.
- Notify your insurance agent. Call your insurance agent before you leave the scene. They can guide you through the claims process and next steps.
- Document the scene. Take a lot of photos, and pay special attention to getting multiple angles of the same things. This can help you down the line if there are any disputes about your claim. Avoid admitting fault to other drivers or to the police for the best chance of your insurance claim being approved and paid out. Suggesting that you caused the accident could result in your provider refusing to pay your claim.
Who’s at fault after an accident?
Pennsylvania’s laws concerning accident fault are complex. But when you begin an insurance policy, you choose whether to pay for tort-style insurance or no-fault insurance. Depending on your choice and other drivers’ policies, everyone in the accident could end up paying for their own costs with individual insurance claims.
Full-tort insurance is what you’ll find in about 38 US states, and means whichever driver caused the accident is the one who will have to pay for any damages or injuries resulting from the crash. Under full-tort laws, you’re allowed to sue for medical costs plus any additional award from the jury or courts for your “pain and suffering.”
Limited tort is the standard in 12 US states, and it means you’re compensated after an accident by your insurance company no matter who’s at fault. This kind of coverage protects you as long as the damages from the accident fall under your coverage limits. It also allows you to sue for medical costs only, meaning you can’t be awarded extra money for “pain and suffering.”
When should I report an accident in Pennsylvania?
If police aren’t already aware of an accident, you must report it to them — particularly if anyone was injured or killed. You must make your report within five days of the incident, regardless of the amount of property damage.
When should I contact a lawyer?
You’ll most likely want to contact a lawyer following an accident if you’re facing any criminal charges from the police or if you believe you’re going to be involved in a lawsuit. Advice from a lawyer can help guide you through your next steps, whether you end up going to court or not.
Car insurance can protect you, your vehicle and others on the road after any kind of accident. And in the great state of Pennsylvania, it’s required by law if you want to get behind the wheel.
To learn more car insurance laws and regulations and how you can find the best rates and policy options, read compare your car insurance options.
Frequently asked questions about car insurance in Pennsylvania
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