Jessica Sautter has a Bachelor’s Degree from Eastern Michigan University in Elementary Education with a Major in Reading and a Minor in Mathematics.

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Written by Jessica Sautter
Content Writer Jessica Sautter

Natasha McLachlan is a writer who currently lives in Southern California. She is an alumna of California College of the Arts, where she obtained her B.A. in Writing and Literature. Her current work revolves around auto insurance guides and informational articles. She truly enjoys helping others learn more about everyday, practical matters through her work.

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Reviewed by Natasha McLachlan
Content Writer Natasha McLachlan

UPDATED: Apr 29, 2020

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If you haven’t taken responsibility for a car before, you might be surprised by the complexity of Pennsylvania insurance laws. For some people, buying car insurance will make up a large portion of the cost of owning a vehicle, so it’s important for you to understand what the law requires you to do. If you don’t buy auto insurance, you can end up spending a lot more to pay penalties and settle claims.

The Basics Of Mandatory PA Auto Insurance Laws

Knowing Laws and Regulations Is A Must!

Financial Responsibility” is a term that refers to Pennsylvania laws that make some kinds of car insurance mandatory. In other words, the government wants to make sure that people who drive have a way to settle with other drivers or property owners in case of an accident, and car insurance is the way that most people can be financially responsible in this way.

If the state catches drivers driving without insurance, penalties can be harsh and may include a license suspension of three months. They may allow waivers for lapses of 31 days or less; however, the owner or operator of the vehicle has to prove that they did not drive the car during that time.

In any other case, the state will ask the driver to take these steps before they will restore driving privileges:

  • Provide proof of insurance
  • Pay any fees and penalties

If a driver gets ticketed for any kind of moving violation during the time that they lacked insurance, the penalties are even harsher. Besides getting a license and registration suspended for the car and paying a fine, the police might even impound the car on the spot. This will result in even more costs because the lot will charge the vehicle owner to retrieve their car.

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Mandatory Auto Insurance For Pennsylvania

A man on the road repairing his broken carWhen you first buy car insurance, your agent or company may offer you a few different kinds of car insurance. Some of these kinds of coverage are not legally required, but these are the types of coverage that are mandatory in PA:

  • Medical benefits: Minimum policies to help pay medical benefits for you or your passengers have to pay at least $5,000.
  • Bodily injury: If you cause an accident that injures another party, this kind of coverage will help compensate them. Minimum coverage is $15,000 for each person and $30,000 for each accident.
  • Property damage: If you cause an accident that damages another vehicle, property liability insurance will help pay for repairs. In Pennsylvania, you need a minimum of only $5,000, but you are free to buy more coverage.

Some insurance companies will let you purchase a total liability policy of $35,000, which covers both injuries and property damage. If you have priced cars lately, you should know that $5,000 isn’t much for property damage, so you may prefer to buy your mandatory coverage this way.

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Other Kinds Of Pennsylvania Auto Insurance To Consider

Many other kinds of coverage are allowed under Pennsylvania laws, but they are not required. If you took out a loan to pay for your car, your contract with your lender may require you to purchase some of these kinds of protection. These are the most common kinds of legally optional auto insurance that PA motorists choose.

PA law doesn’t force you to carry underinsured and uninsured motorist protection. If another driver causes an accident with you but doesn’t have any or enough coverage, this kind of protection will help pay for treatment for injuries. It will not help pay for any property damage to your vehicle though.

Collision vs Comprehensive:

People with fairly new cars and a loan balance usually have to purchase collision and comprehensive insurance to comply with their lender agreement. While most of the required insurance described above really helps to pay for another person’s damages, this is the kind of coverage that will help pay to repair, recover, or replace your own vehicle. This describes the difference between collision and comprehensive car insurance:


Typically, you choose a deductible for your collision insurance. After you pay the deductible, the insurer will either pay to repair or help replace your car. This kind of coverage usually includes towing and storage fees right after an accident.


Your car can get damaged in other ways besides a car wreck. Comprehensive insurance may help to compensate you because of losses you suffer because of events like a storm, flood, theft, or vandalism.

In addition, you may choose to pay a bit extra to have rental reimbursement covered. You may need transportation after you have an accident in order to get to work, run errands, and handle other obligations. Most of the time, rental reimbursement will pay a fixed daily rate to rent a car for up to 30 days.

Who Must You Cover On Your Policy?

Typically, you can loan your car out occasionally and have the other driver covered. Before you do that, you might contact your insurance company to learn the current rules. However, if other drivers live in your household, they must be named on a policy. Even if, for example, a husband and wife both drive their own cars, each must be named on the policy.

Most insurers offer family discounts for multiple people who live at the same address. Car insurance companies may also offer discounts for buying more than one kind of coverage, having a car with certain safety features, or owning a car that they consider safer than average. Of course, one good way to get the most affordable premiums is to keep driving records clear and free of violations and accidents.

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What If It’s Hard To Obtain Pennsylvania Coverage?

Some people may have a hard time getting covered by typical insurance policies. Ask an agent about the Pennsylvania Assigned Risk Pool. This allows for coverage of people who may be considered high risk because they have had a lot of accidents or been convicted of certain offenses in the past. These policies also come from private insurance companies, but they are issued according to risk pool rules.

You can also click here to get free quotes online to compare and save hundreds of dollars per year.