Should I insure my car for full tort or limited tort? What’s the difference?

By Douglas N. Engelman

We all look for ways to save money, don’t we? We make purchases when we have coupons, we travel when hotels are not in demand and we shop around for car insurance. One company has designed a whole marketing campaign around the excitement of saving money on car insurance! As you know, when you make that call to get a new quote, there are many questions to answer. From the type of car you drive to how many speeding tickets you’ve had, you need to be prepared with the answers. Of course, there’s one question that’s far more important than how many miles you drive each year. When you’re asked whether you want full tort or limited tort, you need to know the difference to make an educated choice.

Choosing limited tort saves money. It’s the less expensive option when you pay your insurance premium and it’s easy to compare a higher premium to a lower one and choose the option that obviously saves money. But there’s a much bigger difference between full tort and limited tort, and it becomes very clear when you’ve been injured in a car accident.

With full tort, you are able to sue for pain and suffering; with limited tort, you may be forfeiting that right. Limited tort will cover repairs to your car and direct out of pocket medical expenses, but it will not allow you to sue for pain and suffering unless your injuries fall into one of a small group of exceptions.

Pain and Suffering

Pain and suffering is defined as the physical and/or mental distress sustained in an injury. This can include discomfort from broken bones or internal injuries, limitations on activities (temporary or permanent), depression, embarrassment, potential reduced lifespan, or a change in personality.

Examples of when someone would want to sue for pain and suffering might include:

  • Tony breaks his foot and requires multiple painful surgeries with periods of aches and pain
  • Audrey, a recreational skier, is unable to ski, missing an entire season on the slopes
  • Delores is a child who requires the use of a wheelchair for the summer, missing out on swimming in the ocean and riding roller coasters
  • During the long road to recovery from a pelvic fracture, Bob suffers from depression
  • A head injury causes a change is suffered by Brian’s causing temporary but severe heartaches, memory loss and grief for his wife Ginny

While there can be exceptions to the restrictions of limited tort, most attorneys advise motorists to protect themselves with full tort coverage. While it does cost more in premiums, it can easily pay for itself when the insured suffers an injury.

If you aren’t sure if you currently have full tort or limited tort, call your insurance agent today and find out. You can increase your coverage to full tort at any time.

If you are a driver or a passenger who has been in an accident, contact me today to discuss your options for seeking recovery for your pain and suffering.


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