What is Full Tort Insurance?

What is Full Tort Insurance?

One of the most significant pricing factors on a PA auto insurance policy is whether you select FULL tort insurance or LIMITED tort insurance. Many people are confused as to what Full Tort provides.

Full Tort is NOT Full Coverage! 

“LIMITED Tort means I give up my right to sue in an accident” – OR – “I don’t have FULL tort, I just have liability” are some of the most erroneous comments I’ve heard in regards to this vital choice, unique to Pennsylvania auto insurance consumers.


Technically speaking, when PA auto insurance customers choose LIMITED tort, they waive their right to sue for NON-ECONOMIC damages UNLESS they are SERIOUSLY INJURED in an accident.

When they choose FULL tort, they don’t give up any rights to sue for any damages regardless of the severity of their injury.

A quick definition of SERIOUSLY INJURED is “death, serious impairment of body function or permanent serious disfigurement.” NON-ECONOMIC damages are things like pain and suffering & mental anguish.


Here’s A quick Story to Help Explain Full Tort Insurance Better.

You are driving through a green traffic light when a vehicle ignores the red signal to your left and hits the driver’s side of your car causing you injuries that require a week in the hospital, physical therapy treatments and no work at your factory job for 6 weeks to recover from.

After your recovery, you experience a pain free limp in your left leg that doesn’t diminish you ability to work at your job, but does prevent you from ever playing in your amateur, but very serious, softball league again.

Your inability to play in this league may actually SAVE you money on equipment, league fees, etc., but you’re still young and you were looking forward to many more years of softball, so you’re pretty depressed about it.

They’ll probably just write a check

There are a lot of damages here, so you file a claim with the PA auto insurance company that insured the vehicle that struck you.  Luckily, they have sufficient limits to pay all of your ECONOMIC damages (doctor’s bills, physical therapy bills, gas to drive to the physical therapy, time your spouse took off of work to take care of you in the hospital and all of the work you missed – pretty much anything that you received a bill for or income you lost as a result of the accident).

There is no question of fault, and the insurance company pays all of those damages because ECONOMIC damages are ALWAYS collectible, regardless of your FULL or LIMITED tort election.

The permanent limp that had no economic impact on you, but is causing you mental anguish could also be a claim, but your ability to sue or claim for those NON-ECONOMIC damages may be limited if you chose LIMITED tort when you purchased your PA auto insurance policy.

Mental Anguish only counts if you get Full Tort benefits


If you’re deemed to have suffered a SERIOUS INJURY, you can STILL sue for NON-ECONOMIC damages.  So if that limp is judged to be a permanent serious disfigurement or a serious impairment of your bodily function, then you can still sue with LIMITED tort.  A personal injury attorney would be best suited to decide if your claim had a chance of succeeding.

If you elected FULL tort, there is no limit on your right to sue for NON-ECONOMIC damage, so there is no potential barrier to your claim for NON-ECONOMIC damages.  Again, chances are good that a personal injury attorney would be best suited to negotiate a dollar amount to properly compensate you for your loss.

“I’m not the suing type – I would never sue – People sue too much.”

These are all things that I’ve heard from PA auto insurance customers.

But wait – Imagine if instead of you getting hit on the driver’s side, you’re actually hit on the passenger’s side and your child, who is a star athlete in high school, ends up off the team with a permanent limp?

Again, being off the team may actually save you money, but the permanent loss of an activity that contributes to your child’s joy in life and sense of identity may cause your child to be depressed.  How would that make you feel?

As FIRST NAMED INSURED, your FULL or LIMITED tort election applies to everyone in your household that is covered by the policy.

FULL tort increases your PA auto insurance premium, and LIMITED tort can save you up to 30% on the liability coverage premium you pay for your policy (the Physical Damage coverage is not affected by FULL or LIMITED tort).

Ultimately, you are the only one who can decide which is right for you.  Lawyers always recommend FULL tort because they don’t believe the trade off is worth the premium savings of LIMITED tort. 

Whenever you get a PA Auto Insurance quote, you should ask for a FULL tort and a LIMITED tort quote – then you will have the most information to make the decision that’s right for you.

If you have any questions, fill out our contact form below or call New Heritage Insurance at 717-684-6409. You can also contact Matt Berry for a full personal insurance review as well.

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