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Pennsylvania Car Insurance

Drivers living in Pennsylvania must have valid car insurance in order to legally operate a motor vehicle in the state. All residents must be financially responsible for the cars that they drive and the possibility of being involved in an accident.If a driver is found to have had a lapse in insurance coverage, they may receive a suspension of their vehicle registration for three months. Drivers also run the risk of having their license suspended for three months. If the lapse in coverage amounted to less than 32 days, the driver may not have registration suspended. They may also seek to prove that the vehicle in question was not used during the time when it did not have insurance coverage. This must be demonstrated to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (DOT), and the Department will decide whether or not registration should be suspended or other legal actions may be taken.If a driver is stopped for a traffic violation and found to be without insurance, they may have the following consequences:

  • A $300 fine
  • Three-month vehicle registration suspension
  • Three-month driver’s license suspension
  • Impoundment of the vehicle

If a license or registration is suspended, the driver must turn in their driver’s license, and the car’s license plate and registration sticker to PennDOT. After the suspension period has been served, drivers typically have to pay restoration fees and must submit proof of a current insurance policy in order to get their license and driving privileges back.

Required Coverage in Pennsylvania

All drivers must have insurance coverage in their vehicles, but there are both required and optional forms of coverage in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania minimum car insurance requirements are:

  • Minimum of $5,000 to cover medical expenses for yourself or others, regardless of fault
  • Minimum of $15,000 to cover medical expenses for injuries to one person, with a cap at $30,000 per accident
  • Minimum of $5,000 to cover property damage if you are at fault
  • Limited or full tort coverage to file a legal suit against the at-fault driver (Limited coverage comes with lower insurance premiums, but does not cover expenses for all types of suits. Full coverage will have a higher premium, but allow unrestricted rights to sue the at-fault driver.)

Optional Insurance Coverage

Some drivers in Pennsylvania also wish to add specific types of additional coverage to their insurance policies to further protect themselves. These types of coverage are not required.

Optional coverage includes:

  • Uninsured and underinsured motorist protection
  • Funeral benefits
  • Coverage for loss of income
  • Comprehensive coverage for damage by natural forces
  • Medical benefits exceeding $100,000
  • Accidental death
  • Vehicle rental
  • Towing

Required Proof of Insurance in Pennsylvania

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, drivers must be able to provide proof of insurance in one of the following ways:

  • An insurance identification card
  • A copy of the insurance declaration page listing the claim holder and insured cars and drivers
  • A binder of insurance signed by a licensed broker
  • A copy of application for the Pennsylvania Assigned Risk Plan
  • A letter from the insurance provider, on company letterhead and signed by the insurance agent, demonstrating proof of coverage

Alternative Options to Insurance:

According to the PennDOT, drivers in Pennsylvania may apply to insure themselves, rather than go through an insurance company. In order to do this, the group or individual must gain approval from the Department.

Requirements for a self-insurance proposal include:

  • A self-insurance application
  • Self-insurance security agreement
  • An income statement and completed balance sheet that demonstrates the financial standing of the person or group as of the previous fiscal year
  • A minimum of $50,000 collateral for on vehicle, and $10,000 for each additional vehicle in the form of U.S. currency, U.S. Treasury bills or notes, loans, escrow deposits, or bonds

The applications for self-insurance are available on the PennDOT website:

Obtaining a License

All residents of Pennsylvania are required to hold a driver’s license or permit in order to operate a motor vehicle. The process of obtaining a driver’s license involves a series of tests aimed at making sure each driver is prepared to safely operate a vehicle without endangering other drivers on Pennsylvania roads.

Residents of Pennsylvania have to be 16 years of age or older in order to apply for a learner’s permit.

Applying for a Permit

According to Chapter 1 of the Pennsylvania Driver’s Manual, in order to apply for a learner’s permit, residents must follow several steps. They must complete the Non-Commercial Learner’s Permit Application (DL-180), which is included in the front of the driver’s manual, have their health care provider fill out the back of the application, have a parent or guardian complete the Parent or Guardian Consent Form (DL-180TD) also found in the front of the manual (if driver is under 18), and obtain two forms of residency proof (if over 18). Proof can be in the form of utility bills, tax records, lease agreements, W-2 tax forms, weapons permits, or mortgage documents.

When it’s time to apply for the permit, the applicant must bring the above documents and the following items to the Driver License Center:

  • A completed Non-Commercial Learner’s Permit Application (DL-180)
  • A completed Parent or Guardian Consent Form (DL-180TD), if under 18
  • Original documents proving of date of birth and identification.
  • Signed social security card
  • Check or money order payable to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation in the most recent application fee amount

In Pennsylvania, residents must be 18 years old in order to have full driver’s privileges. Those under 18 will be given what are called Junior Driver’s Permits and Junior Driver’s Licenses until they turn 18 years of age.

Junior Driver’s Permit Requirements:

  • Must have a licensed drive of at least 21 years of age, or a parent, guardian or spouse over the age of 18 in the front seat with you at all times
  • Must not drive between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. unless with the parent, guardian, or spouse
  • May not drive with more passengers than seat belts

Once a permit holder has completed the year period, they will be allowed to take the test for the junior driver’s license. The testing process for a driver’s license is the same for applicants of any age. If the permit-holder is under 18, however, they will have a junior license and restricted driving privileges. When the junior license holder turns 18, the license will automatically cover full privileges.

Junior Driver’s License Requirements:

  • Must not drive between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. unless with the parent, guardian, or spouse
  • May drive between those hours if it is for a public or charitable service
  • May not drive with more passengers than seat belts
  • May not receive over six point deductions or be convicted of driving 26 miles per hour or more over the speed limit or you will be given a 90-day suspension

Drivers with junior licenses may receive a full license once they have had the junior license for at least one year.

In order to get the license, drivers must meet these conditions:

  • Pass a PA Department of Education-approved driver training coursed
  • Have had no accidents in which you were partially or fully at-fault
  • Have had no violations of the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code for at least one year
  • Have consent from a parent, guardian or spouse who is over 18

Driver’s License Testing

Testing for the license includes a knowledge test, road test, and vision test. These will all be completed at the licensing site on the date of application.

Knowledge Test

The knowledge test is designed to assess applicant’s understanding of road rules and signals. It may also cover safety hazards, such as the effects of driving under the influence. The test is made up of 18 multiple choice questions. Applicants must answer 15 questions correctly to pass. A sample test is provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles.

Road Test

The road test will be conducted by an examiner from the DMV, and drivers must use their own car. Before the test, the car will be inspected for safety. If it passes, drivers may take the road test.

Drivers will need to present these documents to the examiner:

  • Their learner’s permit
  • Documentation of 50 hours of driving practice behind the wheel, if under 18
  • Registration and insurance information for the vehicle that will be used for the test
  • Accompaniment and driver’s license of a parent, guardian or spouse over 21 years of age

The test will include operating the vehicle controls, such as the horn, windshield wipers, and headlights, and parallel parking. You will also drive on roads, and the examiner will give instructions about where to go.

Driver’s Education

Driver’s education courses are not required in Pennsylvania and cannot be used as a replacement for the required 50 hours of behind-the-wheel practice involved in the permit period. Driver’s education courses do include six hours of behind-the-wheel practice, and the six hours may be applied to the 50 hours.

Learning the Rules of the Road

All drivers in Pennsylvania are required to know and follow the state traffic laws in order to safely and responsibly operate a motor vehicle on state roads. When drivers are stopped in violation of traffic laws, the penalty may be a ticket, fine, or license suspension, depending on the severity of the incident. In addition, breaking traffic laws can prevent you from receiving the best car insurance rates in Pennsylvania.

The following laws are located in Chapter 33 of the Pennsylvania code:

  • 3303. Overtaking vehicle on the left.
  • 3304. Overtaking vehicle on the right.
  • 3305. Limitations on overtaking on the left. 3306.
  • Limitations on driving on left side of roadway.
  • 3307. No-passing zones.
  • 3308. One-way roadways and rotary traffic islands.
  • 3309. Driving on roadways laned for traffic.
  • 3310. Following too closely.
  • 3311. Driving on divided highways.
  • 3312. Limited access highway entrances and exits.
  • 3313. Restrictions on use of limited access highways.
  • 3314. Prohibiting use of hearing impairment devices.
  • 3315. Passing and overtaking streetcars.
  • 3321. Vehicle approaching or entering intersection.
  • 3322. Vehicle turning left.
  • 3323. Stop signs and yield signs.
  • 3324. Vehicle entering or crossing roadway.
  • 3325. Duty of driver on approach of emergency vehicle.
  • 3326. Duty of driver in construction and maintenance areas or on highway safety corridors.
  • 3327. Duty of driver in emergency response areas.
  • 3328. Unmarked police vehicles.
  • 3331. Required position and method of turning.
  • 3332. Limitations on turning around.
  • 3333. Moving stopped or parked vehicle.
  • 3334. Turning movements and required signals.
  • 3335. Signals by hand and arm or signal lamps.
  • 3336. Method of giving hand and arm signals.
  • 3341. Obedience to signal indicating approach of train.
  • 3342. Vehicles required to stop at railroad crossings.
  • 3343. Moving heavy equipment at railroad grade crossings.
  • 3344. Emerging from alley, driveway or building.
  • 3345. Meeting or overtaking school bus.
  • 3346. Emergency vehicles entering or leaving official garage.
  • 3351. Stopping, standing and parking outside business and residence districts.
  • 3352. Removal of vehicle by or at direction of police.
  • 3353. Prohibitions in specified places.
  • 3354. Additional parking regulations.
  • 3361. Driving vehicle at safe speed.
  • 3362. Maximum speed limits.
  • 3363. Alteration of maximum limits.
  • 3364. Minimum speed regulation.
  • 3365. Special speed limitations.
  • 3366. Charging speed violations.
  • 3367. Racing on highways.
  • 3368. Speed timing devices.

All Pennsylvania residents who have driver’s licenses must insure themselves and their vehicles in order to drive. The Pennsylvania Insurance Department provides information on how rates are calculated, what to keep in mind while shopping for insurance, and how to apply.

Calculating Rates

Insurance rates are calculated based on many different factors. The rates are based on the amount of financial risk an insurer must take on in order provide coverage to a driver or type of vehicle. The probability of the occurrence of an accident or theft and the probable cost of repair or replacement is calculated and used to adjust individual rates for each customer.

Insurance companies typically consider age, sex, geographical location, the make and model of the vehicle, and many other factors. The company will attempt to gather information that will help ascertain the amount of risk associated with a claim and the amount of money it may cost in order to pay out claims. According to the Insurance Department, Pennsylvania law states that insurance companies may not unfairly charge customers based on race, religion, nationality or ethnic group, age, sex, family size, occupation, place of residence or marital status. This means that companies may take these things into consideration, but may not be unfair in their assessment.

Things to Consider About Insurance

The Pennsylvania Insurance Department provides tips on what to keep in mind while shopping for insurance, filing claims, or otherwise working with your insurance company.

The following practices can help consumers make smart insurance decisions and ensure that they receive the most affordable auto insurance in Pennsylvania:

  • Ask about discounts for things like multiple vehicles, airbags, and ant-theft devices
  • Find out what service fees apply to installment plans for paying down premiums
  • Consider higher deductibles to lower payments
  • Make sure that the deductible you choose is possible for you to pay, in the event of a claim
  • Consider forgoing comprehensive coverage for cars with a market value of less than $1,000
  • Personal effects that are in the vehicle are typically not covered by insurers unless specifically stated in the policy

Finding an Insurance Agent, Broker or Company

Insurance agents work for insurance companies and help customers determine what kind of coverage they need and what rates they may be charged. Agents may be able to help a customer get a good deal within their company, but they also work to make money by filing policies with that company.

Insurance brokers work independently or as part of a brokerage firm. They work with customers to determine their insurance needs and match them with an appropriate policy and insurance company. Brokers also make a commission off of a policy that they file.

Both types of insurance experts can help you find the best car insurance in Pennsylvania.

The Department of Insurance provides a search-able list of all licensed insurance agents and brokers in the state. A list of all insurance companies is also provided.

Filing a Complaint

If a driver has problems with an insurance provider, agent, or broker, he or she may contact the Insurance Department for help. The Department can be contacted by phone, fax, mail or email. The individual can also go straight to filing a complaint against the party online and submit it to the Insurance Department right away.

In order to file a complaint, the individual must provide as much information as possible, such as his or her name, address, phone number, type of car and insurance policy information. They must describe the situation as accurately as possible and provide any available proof. The individual must also let the Department know if he or she is represented by a lawyer.

The Insurance Department Consumer Services can be contacted here:

Philadelphia Regional Office
801 Market Street, Room 6062
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Phone: (215) 560-2630
Fax: (215) 560-2648

High Risk Insurance

The SR-22 system is used in Pennsylvania in order to monitor drivers who may pose a threat to others on the road. If a driver is determined to be high-risk, the state requires them to send in an SR-22 form proving they have current and adequate insurance coverage. The high-risk insurance coverage is meant to offer further protection in the case of an accident.

Drivers typically have to file for SR-22 insurance due to one of the following situations:

  • A suspension due to safety
  • A suspension due to an unsatisfied judgment in court
  • License revocation
  • Mandatory insurance supervisions
  • Receiving over three mandatory insurance violation convictions

SR-22 insurance may cover the motorist only, if the individual does not own a vehicle, the vehicles only, or both the motorist and any owned vehicles. With time, a high-risk driver can mend his or her driving record to qualify for more low cost car insurance in Pennsylvania.

Online resources include:

  • Insurance Questions and Answers
  • Insurance Glossary
  • Insurance Fact Sheet