Car Insurance in Pennsylvania

It only took 30 minutes to save $570.

Pennsylvania’s unique no-fault insurance system, steep auto repair costs, and high population density would lead anyone to believe that its auto insurance premiums would be through the roof. And generally speaking, no-fault states like Florida and Michigan are the most expensive in the country, by far. But interestingly enough, Pennsylvania boasts a completely average annual rate of $138 per month — which is $1 less than the national average. While that’s a great thing to hear, my research shows that many residents are paying a good bit more than they have to.

I got several quotes for Pennsylvania’s state minimum coverage and found prices varied by over $570. GEICO was my cheapest option at $225. Will GEICO be the cheapest insurer for you, too? No way to know. You and I aren’t the same person, so our risk factors are going to be completely different. It’s impossible to predict what your rates would be.

Each insurance company has a unique formula that analyzes your personal information to determine your rate. It’s not just that we’re all individuals with different inputs, it’s also that each insurer weighs those inputs a little differently. That’s why the answer is always: get quotes, get quotes, get quotes. The prices you’re quoted can vary significantly from company to company, even though your risk factors will be the same. I recommend getting at least five quotes and comparing their rates and coverages to see which offers that absolute best car insurance policy possible.

Four of the five quotes I applied for were online. The Hartford’s online quote tool never worked for me, so to get a quote, I had to call them (and that added an extra ten minutes or so to the whole process). If you don’t know your annual mileage or your VIN, you should look this up before beginning the quote process, but most of the information providers need will be committed to your memory — your birthday, your address, your vehicle make and model. And if you’ve had any blemishes to your record, grab that information as well.

Get Quotes Now

Enter your zip code to compare rates from some of my top recommendations.

Our Top 5 Picks for the Best Car Insurance in Pennsylvania

I chose to get quotes for the following companies because they’ve all earned “excellent” or “superior” financial solvency ratings from A.M. Best, a top financial strength reporting agency that assesses a company’s long-term stability. These insurers also received high customer satisfaction scores from the latest J.D. Power report on the auto insurance industry. That means you can trust them to pay out when they need to and to minimize the headaches involved in filing a claim.

Insurer My quote
GEICO $225
State Farm $393
Allstate $578
Erie Insurance $671
The Hartford $804

GEICO offered me $225, which was the cheapest quote I received by far. State Farm was pretty competitive with GEICO, but Allstate made a significant jump for no apparent reason. Erie Insurance and The Hartford came out a great deal higher than the others because they required more than the state’s legal minimum to insure me.

If I were you, I’d definitely entertain the thought of purchasing more than the most basic cheap car insurance policy. The benefits can greatly outweigh the extra money (and sometimes upgraded coverage is actually cheaper than minimum coverage). So when you start applying for quotes, it’s a smart idea to check every company on multiple levels of coverage. That way, you can make absolutely sure you’re finding the most competitive rates.

Even If You’re Happy, It’s Best to Shop for a New Policy Every Couple of Years

You may not know it, but the price you’re quoted is a reflection not only of your risk, but of your loyalty. And perversely, the more loyal you are to your insurer, the more they may raise your rate. This is a process called price optimization. Their algorithms analyze personal data, like your credit score and online shopping habits, to determine how likely you are to stay loyal to them. If they don’t expect you to shop around for another insurer, they’ll tack on a few extra dollars to your monthly bill.

In the same way that insurance companies find out your personal information, they also discover if you’ve applied for a quote from a competitor. If you’re an avid shopper, they’ll take note, and probably won’t risk offending you with a slight bump in your rate. In fact, they might even offer you a more competitive one in order to keep your business. No business survives without revenue, and providers would much rather have you as a lower-profit customer than not as a customer at all.

Lucky for us, Pennsylvania is one of the 15 states that have taken steps to prevent price optimization. In a response to urging from the Consumer Federation of America, insurance commissioner Teresa Miller collaborated with governor Tom Wolf in September 2015 to set some standards. This event effectively banned all insurers who operate in Pennsylvania from raising premiums on grounds unrelated to risk:

“As part of Governor Wolf’s emphasis on consumer protection, I have notified insurers that I will not approve any such rates that violate state laws requiring all persons of the same class and the same hazard or risk to be charged the same premiums. In short, this practice takes advantage of a customer’s loyalty to a company.” — Teresa Miller, Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner

All that’s to say that shopping around is the way to go. It helps you identify what kind of a situation you’re in. Could you be paying less for the same coverage somewhere else and get better customer service? Could you find upgraded coverage (which I totally recommend) that’s actually less expensive than what you’re paying now? Even though price optimization is no longer legal, if you’ve been with your current carrier for a few years, you may still be paying those slightly higher, optimized rates. You definitely won’t know until you buckle down and get the quotes.

Pennsylvania’s Minimum Coverage

The Bare Minimum

Pennsylvania’s required liability coverage is far below the national average. Most states require $25,000 of bodily injury coverage per person and $50,000 per accident, but Pennsylvania residents need only have $15,000 of coverage per person and $30,000 per accident. The $5,000 of mandated property damage coverage is also about half of what most state require.

Pennsylvania also requires $5,000 of first party benefits coverage. This covers medical expenses for you and others on your policy following an accident, regardless of whether you are at fault.

Only two other no-fault states let consumers choose if they want a no-fault or tort policy like Pennsylvania. If you’re looking to lower your rates, consider going with a limited tort (no-fault) policy. This option enables you to sue for things like medical bills or loss of income, but you give up your right to sue for pain and suffering unless you sustain a serious injury — that is, an injury resulting in permanent disfigurement, impairment or death. A full tort policy enables you to retain the right to sue for pain and suffering, however, this extra coverage can raise premiums by up to 40 percent.

The Best Car Insurance is Not Just Cheap Car Insurance

Higher coverage limits may not seem worth the expense at first, but consider this:

  • The average driver will get into an accident once every 17.9 years.
  • The average cost of a disabling, nonfatal injury is $80,700. And if I injure multiple people or the car I wreck is a Ferrari, that cost will rise astronomically.

If I have Pennsylvania’s minimum coverage and I get into an accident that gives someone an $80,000 injury, my insurance is going to leave me with the rest of the bill after they’ve paid their $15,000. I’m likely to end up in court being sued for the outstanding $65,000 and that’s something I’d rather avoid.

Bumping my coverage limits up to $50,000/$100,000/$25,000 would only cost me $33 more per year with GEICO. That’s less than $3 extra each month. And in the accident scenario above, it would save me $35,000. That would still leave me with $30,000 to pay out of pocket, though, which is why, personally, I’d opt for even higher limits.

Pennsylvania has one of the lowest uninsured driver rates in the nation, but that doesn’t mean it’s wise to forgo uninsured motorist coverage. If you don’t have this coverage and get hit by an uninsured driver, you’ll be the one paying for the damages. Underinsured motorist coverage goes along with this. It covers the remainder of the damages if the at-fault driver’s insurance won’t cover the full amount.

If You Skip Coverage, It’ll Cost You

Pennsylvania drivers are risking a fine of at least $300 and a three-month suspension of their vehicle registration and license for driving without insurance. To reinstate your license and registration, you must pay an additional $176 in reinstatement fees and provide proof of insurance.

Get Quotes Now

Enter your zip code to compare rates from some of my top recommendations.

Beat the Average Premium: 9 Ways to Snag Cheap Car Insurance Rates

There are dozens of factors affecting your premiums, but there are plenty of ways you can reduce them, too. Moving is one option (check out the average premiums in eight major cities). But if you’d rather stay where you are, there are other ways to cut costs. Taking a defensive driving course, limiting your time on the road, and letting the insurance company monitor your driving habits are all much simpler ways to reduce your monthly premiums. For more ideas, check out our lists of factors that raise and lower your insurance rates.

Nine Ways to Lower Your Car Insurance Rates

FAQs

Why are Pennsylvania’s rates the way they are?

What to Expect
Average Monthly Premiums
United States $139
Pennsylvania $138
Philadelphia $202
Allentown $111
Erie $109
Reading $108
Pittsburgh $108
Scranton $108
Bethlehem $106
Lancaster $99
Source: Quadrant

Pennsylvania’s no-fault auto insurance system is the main reason its rates are simply average. In theory, this is supposed to lower rates and eliminate expensive lawsuits by requiring all claims to be handled through your own insurer, regardless of who was at fault. In practice, however, it hasn’t worked that way. Research has shown that no-fault states often pay more for their insurance premiums than tort states.

For instance, in the state of Michigan — the most expensive state for car insurance in the country — no-fault regulations have been a serious problem for drivers. Consider the following statements from the Michigan Chamber of Commerce:

“The primary cause of cost growth in Michigan auto no-fault is the accumulation of high-cost, long-term injury claims in the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association (MCCA). Catastrophic claims account for only 1 to 2 percent of no-fault claims, but for over 45 percent of claim costs. Michigan drivers pay premium surcharges of nearly $1 billion each year to support these claims.

Major reforms are needed to prevent a cost crisis that will destroy Michigan’s no-fault system. The most effective way to achieve auto no-fault cost reductions is to introduce limits to no-fault benefits and allow consumers to choose benefit amounts beyond some specified minimum. This will better match benefits to consumer needs and preferences, reduce moral hazard and fraud, and reduce uncertainty for insurers.”

Interestingly enough, this seemingly hasn’t affected Pennsylvania’s average annual rates as much as other no-fault states — even in spite of the fact that it has the 9th highest population density in the country (286 residents per square mile).

Pennsylvania also has higher-than-average vehicle repair costs. Data from CarMD places Pennsylvania at $418 for a basic tune up (that’s including parts and labor), which is the 12th most expensive in the country — and it’s rising. The more money it takes to fix your car, the more money it takes to insure your car. And that unfortunately means you have to shell out more green to make up the difference.

The Bottom Line

Don’t just settle for the first cheap car insurance policy that falls into you lap. Stick to your guns and shop around. There’s no better way to make sure you’re getting the best possible deal. Also, make sure you check up different variations of upgraded coverage — even if you think you can’t afford it. Sometimes, providers actually give you a price break for more than the state minimum. Grab some quotes and see how much you can save.

Get Quotes Now

Enter your zip code to compare rates from some of my top recommendations.

Simple Share Buttons
Simple Share Buttons