Pennsylvania’s unique no-fault insurance system, steep auto repair costs and dense population would make anyone believe that its car insurance premiums are through the roof. Generally, no-fault states like Florida and Michigan are the most expensive in the country, by far. But interestingly enough, Pennsylvania boasts an average annual rate of $138 per month, which is $1 less than the national average. That’s a great thing to hear, but many residents still are not getting the best car insurance and are paying more than they have to.
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Looking at several quotes for Pennsylvania’s minimum required coverage, it’s clear that prices vary by over $1,200 per year. No two drivers are exactly alike, so your risk factors are going to be completely different from another person’s risk profile. 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. In addition, each insurer weighs your information 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.
Our Top 5 Picks for the Best Cheap Car Insurance in Pennsylvania
Each of these companies has 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 in the latest J.D. Power report on the car 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.
Pennsylvania’s Minimum Coverage Requirements for 2020
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 must have only $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 states 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.
Pennsylvania, a no-fault insurance state, lets consumers choose whether they want a no-fault or tort policy. 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 incur 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.
Why are Pennsylvania’s rates the way they are?
Pennsylvania’s no-fault car insurance system is the main reason its rates are simply average. In theory, this is supposed to lower rates and to 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 drivers in no-fault states often pay more for their insurance premiums than tort states.
The most effective way to achieve no-fault cost reductions is to introduce limits to no-fault benefits and to 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 doesn’t seem to have affected Pennsylvania’s average annual rates as much as other no-fault states, in spite of the fact that it has the ninth-highest population density in the country.
Do you need more than minimum coverage?
Consider this scenario: The average driver will get into an accident once every 17.9 years. The average cost of a disabling, nonfatal injury is $93,800, according to the National Safety Council. And if you injure multiple people or if the car you wreck is a Ferrari, that cost will rise astronomically. If you have Pennsylvania’s minimum coverage, and you get into an accident that gives someone a $94,000 injury, your insurance is going to leave you with the rest of the bill after it has paid its $15,000. That means you’re likely to end up in court being sued for the outstanding $79,000, and that’s something you’d rather avoid.
Bumping your coverage limits up to $50,000/$100,000/$25,000 would only cost you about $192 more per year with Geico, and it would save you a bundle in the accident scenario above. It would still leave you with over $40,000 to pay out of pocket, though, which is why you should 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.
What’s the difference between collision and comprehensive coverage?
You may want collision insurance, comprehensive insurance, or both. You will want collision insurance if you hit an object, like a tree, with your vehicle or if you collide with another vehicle. Collision insurance is also useful if your vehicle rolls over or if you have damage from hitting a pothole or some other road danger.
On the other hand, comprehensive insurance covers collision with an animal, damage by fire, a natural disaster or a falling object. Finally, comprehensive insurance handles claims stemming from vandalism or theft.
Whether or not you need both types of coverage depends on factors such as the value of your car, your likelihood of having one of these types of accidents, and where you live. You also need to take into account whether or not you have a loan on the vehicle as lenders usually require full insurance coverage.
How can you lower your insurance premiums?
There are dozens of factors affecting your premiums, but there are plenty of ways you can reduce them, too. Moving is one option if rates where you live are high. 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 simple ways to reduce your monthly premiums.
What happens if you drive uninsured?
Pennsylvania drivers risk a fine of at least $300 and a three-month suspension of their license and registrations for driving without insurance. To reinstate your license and registration, you must pay $176 in reinstatement fees and provide proof of insurance.
Do you need SR-22 insurance?
If you have been driving uninsured, or if you have had other poor driving decisions, you may be required to get SR-22 insurance. Although this isn’t technically insurance, SR-22 is sometimes necessary for drivers who are deemed to be risky due to multiple traffic violations or driving under the influence. You can purchase an SR-22 policy through your regular car insurance provider, who will fill out and file the appropriate paperwork for you.
Sometimes You Need to Look for Different Quotes
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 that company may raise your rate. This is a strategy called price optimization. The insurance companies’ 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 lose your business.
Luckily, Pennsylvania is one of 15 states that have taken steps to prevent price optimization. In a response to urging from the Consumer Federation of America, the state set some standards, effectively banning all insurers who operate in Pennsylvania from raising premiums for reasons not related to risk level.
All that’s to say that shopping around is the way to go. It helps you identify what kind of 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 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 slightly higher, optimized rates. You definitely won’t know until you buckle down and get the quotes.
This is especially true if you are a new driver or a driver with bad credit. New drivers, whether they are recently licensed teenagers or adults just starting to drive, often face higher-than-normal insurance rates. The lack of driving experience makes these individuals riskier to insure, and so their premiums are higher.
Drivers with bad credit, normally defined as credit scores below 670, also face higher insurance premiums because these drivers are more likely to file expensive claims. The type of vehicle you’re driving, your geographical area and the kind of insurance you need could help you save some money on your premium. Good drivers can have good or bad credit, but being a good driver can help you qualify for some discounts.
Best Car Insurance in Pennsylvania
- The Hartford
- State Farm
- Erie Insurance
Don’t just settle for the first cheap car insurance policy that falls into your 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 on 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.
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