Full Tort Auto Insurance

Full tort car insurance protects drivers against financial loss in tort cases over negligence after an accident. Full tort car insurance allows accident victims to recover costs of pain and suffering.

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Zaneta Wood, Ed.S. has over 15 years of experience in research and technical writing bringing a keen understanding of data analysis and information synthesis to reach a wide variety of audiences. She studied adult education and instructional technology at Appalachian State...

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Reviewed byJoel Ohman
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UPDATED: Jun 26, 2020

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Here's what you need to know...

  • Tort can include actions that are committed intentionally, in ignorance, or due to negligence
  • A driver with full tort car insurance is protected against financial loss should he find himself the defendant in such a lawsuit.
  • In a no-fault state, if an accident is determined that you were not at fault, you have the right to submit your medical bills and other financial claims to the insurance company of the driver who was.
  • Limited tort insurance is similar to full tort insurance minus the ability to recover damages for pain and suffering

Different states have different car insurance requirements, leading to several different types of coverage including no-fault, limited tort, and full tort car insurance.

Although this article will focus on full tort, we will discuss the other two as a point of reference. If you’re unsure what your state requires, contact your local insurance representative or your state insurance agency.

Before discussing the insurance previously mentioned, it’s important to first understand the term “tort.” Tort is a legal term describing an injurious action committed by one person, which then allows the victim to recover financial losses resulting from said injury.

Tort can include actions that are committed intentionally, in ignorance, or due to negligence.

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What is full tort car insurance and how does it work?

In some states like Pennsylvania, car owners are required to choose either limited tort or full tort car insurance. With full tort insurance, both parties involved in an accident have the legal right to sue the other for acts of negligence.

A driver with full tort car insurance is protected against financial loss should he find himself the defendant in such a lawsuit.

What makes full tort car insurance unique is the fact that accident victims can recover not only medical expenses but the related costs of pain and suffering.

Because sympathetic juries have a tendency to award large judgments to the plaintiff in such lawsuits, car insurance companies that provide full tort policies run a higher risk of loss.

Therefore, premiums for full tort car insurance are more expensive than those for other policies.

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What is limited tort car insurance and how does it differ from full tort?

Limited tort insurance is almost identical to full tort insurance with one major exception: the ability to recover damages for pain and suffering. In order to reduce the average cost of car insurance premiums, some states with full tort systems allow drivers to purchase a limited tort policy at a lower cost.

These policies still allow a driver to retain his rights to sue a negligent party involved in an accident, but he waives the right to receive damages for pain and suffering.

Awards for pain and suffering tend to be the largest part of a civil jury decision. By eliminating these awards, the risk of the insurance company is significantly reduced, and premium rates decrease accordingly.

When determining whether to purchase full tort or limited tort insurance, understand that your general liability coverage usually covers the cost of property damage.

In the rare case that property damages may exceed your specific amount of liability coverage, you could be sued for the balance. But since this rarely happens, it’s probably not necessary to consider property damage risks when choosing between the two different types of tort policies.

What is no-fault insurance?

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There are a number of states which do not allow for limited or full tort car insurance. These states, of which New York is but one example, are called no-fault states. Drivers in no-fault states do not have access to tort litigation as a means of recovering damages incurred in an accident.

However, that doesn’t mean they are left out in the cold with the financial burden being placed on their shoulders. Rather, their means of protection against financial loss is slightly different.

In a no-fault state, if an accident investigation determines that you were not at fault, you have the right to submit your medical bills and other financial claims to the insurance company of the driver who was.

Based on that investigation, his insurance company is compelled to reimburse you. On the other hand, if the investigation determines you were the one at fault, the other driver can submit his claims to your insurance company.

If the investigation determines that blame for the accident is shared equally among all parties concerned, each one submits his claims to his own insurance company.

Just as insurance regulations vary from state to state, tort laws are also different. Before you decide on any insurance policy, it is incumbent upon you to investigate tort law in your state.

If your state does allow the option for limited and full tort car insurance, you’ll need to carefully consider the total cost of premiums against the possibility that you’ll ever need to file a civil lawsuit against another driver. If you live in a no-fault state, you don’t have to worry about it.

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