As an insurance agent not a day goes by where someone does not ask for “full tort” insurance on their new vehicle. We understand what the client means, but it provides us an opportunity to help explain one of the most critical and misunderstood components of your auto policy: the tort option.
The tort option has nothing to do with your vehicle and how it is protected. It has to do with one thing and one thing only: your ability to sue for pain and suffering if you are injured in an auto accident. Let’s define each option:
Limited Tort: limits your right to sue for pain and suffering except when serious injury occurs. By choosing limited tort you qualify for a premium reduction.
Full Tort: you retain your rights to sue in any circumstance however you are not eligible for the premium reduction that limited tort provides.
Some of the most common questions we receive are:
If I choose limited tort what exactly am I limiting my right to?
With limited tort you are giving up your right to sue for pain and suffering unless deemed a serious injury. A serious injury is not clearly defined; however, some examples include death, serious impairment of body function, or permanent and serious disfigurement. You are always able to sue for medical bills, lost wages and any other economic loss no matter which option you choose.
Other than serious injury are there any other exceptions with limited tort?
Yes. There are still circumstances with limited tort where you are able to sue for pain and suffering. Some of the most common exceptions are if the responsible party’s vehicle is registered in another state or if that party is convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances.
How much of a discount do I receive for choosing limited tort?
The discount of up to 40% is applied to your bodily injury, first party benefits and uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. Typically the discount can range from 15-25% of your total premium.
Which of these options is the best?
This is probably the question we get most often. Our job is to provide you with information to allow you to make an informed decision. While there is no “right or wrong” choice it is a very important one and one which should not be made without knowing the facts.