Pennsylvania auto insurance coverage can be summed up into one word: confusing. At Edgar Snyder & Associates, we understand that you may have many questions about your coverage options, what to do after you're in an accident, and how to get a fair settlement – both if you suffered property damage only, or if you've been seriously injured as well.
That's why we've tried to answer as many common questions as possible. If you still have questions, download our free e-book For Pennsylvania Drivers: How to Choose Auto Insurance.
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Q: I’ve been in an accident and I don’t understand my auto insurance coverage. What am I entitled to receive?
A: To help you better understand Pennsylvania's confusing insurance act, you'll find in your information packet our free e-book For Pennsylvania Drivers: How to Choose Auto Insurance. In the guide, we try to give you the benefit of our 30+ years of experience. We recommend that you read this brochure, and click on the links to the left of this page to learn more about each type of car insurance. Then, refer to your insurance declaration sheet that lists your coverage.
Q: Who pays for my car repairs?
A: There are two ways to receive payment for property damage — through your own insurance company or through the at-fault party's carrier. The fastest and easiest way to deal with repairing your vehicle is through your own insurance company. If you purchased collision coverage on your policy, your insurance company will pay for repairs after you pay the deductible. The at-fault party's insurance carrier may reimburse the deductible later.
You also can choose to have your insurance company present the claim to the insurance carrier of the person at fault for the accident. If you choose this option, you may face significant delays in fixing your vehicle. The at-fault party's insurance coverage should pay for your repairs, including the deductible. However, state law only requires $5,000 in property damage coverage in a policy, which may not be enough to pay for the repairs. If you decide to go this route, discuss all details with the insurance company regarding total reimbursement.
Q: How do I get my car repaired?
A: The insurance company will inspect the damage so that you can make arrangements to fix your car. Most auto insurance companies have a "preferred provider" system for car repair. To help control costs, insurers favor certain body shops or mechanics. You can drop off your car at the body shop your insurer suggests, and you won't have to haggle over price. Or, you can choose your own mechanic and play the negotiating game. While the cost-cutting approach sounds great, be aware that some body shops may be pressured to cut corners. One strategy is to use generic or salvage parts instead of using new parts from your car's original manufacturer. Review the estimate for the term "LKQ" parts. Translated, that means "like kind and quality" parts, and not the original equipment. Parts may not fit as well, not be as strong, or they may rust prematurely.
Q: What if my car is “totalled”?
A: If a reputable mechanic confirms that your vehicle is beyond repair, research the Blue Book value online at www.kbb.com or through your local library. It is important to keep receipts for any upgrades to your car to negotiate a higher value. You will likely sign the title over to your insurance company in exchange for the negotiated value of your vehicle.
Q: My car is damaged and I need transportation. Can I rent a car?
A: Check your insurance policy to determine if you have rental car coverage. If so, you can rent a car, but you may need to pay the difference between the amount provided under your policy and the actual cost to rent the car. You may be reimbursed later. If the at-fault party accepts responsibility, their insurance may cover a rental vehicle.
Q: I am missing a lot of work because of my injuries. What should I do?
A: Compensation for lost wages may be available under your auto insurance policy, depending on the coverage you chose. Coverage for lost wages is optional in Pennsylvania. Additionally, you may apply for employee disability benefits at work if your company covers you for these benefits. Or, you may have insurance that covers your car loan, mortgage, or other credit arrangements.
Q: How do I pay for my medical bills?
A: Under Pennsylvania law we have what are called "first party benefits." This means that when you are injured in an accident, your auto insurance pays for your medical bills up to the coverage limits you chose. Only after that money runs out do your own health insurance benefits take over. If you don't have health insurance, you may be eligible for Medicaid and/ or Medicare. Please note: Your health insurance plan and/or government assistance program may demand reimbursement if you collect other money for your injuries.
Q: I was injured as a passenger in a car and my medical bills are piling up. What should I do?
A: Your own auto insurance coverage is always your first line of payment, whether you're injured in your own car, in another person's car, or even as a pedestrian. Medical benefits coverage under your own auto insurance policy should pay your medical bills up to your policy limits. If you don't own a car and no relative living in your household has Pennsylvania auto insurance coverage, you should submit your bills to the auto insurance carrier insuring the vehicle in which you were a passenger. Additional medical bills go to your personal health insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. Bills that remain unpaid by your insurance, the insurance on the vehicle you occupied at the time of the accident, or another source, are the responsibility of the at-fault party's insurance company. Your medical bills will not be paid, however, until the case is settled.
Q: Will my auto insurance rates go up if I contact my insurance company about the accident?
A: If the accident was not your fault, your rates should not increase. However, there are no guarantees.
Q: I was in an accident caused by a friend or family member. I don’t want to sue them. What should I do?
A: Many people are understandably concerned about filing a lawsuit against a friend or relative. However, many cases are settled without filing suit, and in either event, any money you would collect is usually paid by the insurance company. This is true whether you know the person at fault or if they are a total stranger. If you are concerned about increasing their insurance rates, be aware that if your friend or relative is determined to be responsible for the accident, their rates will likely increase regardless of whether or not you file a claim.
Q: I want to change my car insurance coverage. When can I make changes to my policy?
A: You can make changes to your car insurance policy at any time. All you need to do is contact your car insurance agent and tell them you want to change your coverage options.
There's only one way to find out. Call 1-866-943-3427, or fill out the form at the top right of this webpage for a free legal evaluation. You tell us the details about your car accident, and we'll tell you whether we think you have a case. But, contact us quickly – evidence disappears quickly, which can affect the outcome of your case.
You also can visit our car accident section on our website. There you will find a lot of information on different types of auto accidents, answers to common questions, what to know before you call, steps to take after an accident, and more. You also can download our free e-book For Pennsylvania Drivers: How to Choose Auto Insurance.