There’s a chance you’ve come across the word “Tort” when buying your car insurance. Often, “Tort” is a confusing term in auto insurance because it’s largely used in legal affairs. Not everybody understands the meaning of Tort or Full Tort when used in insurance.
If your insurer or state mentions “Full tort coverage,” it means they’re allowing you to retain the right to sue an -at-fault driver for pain and suffering after an accident.
This is why when buying car insurance, you should understand whether the insurer is giving you the option of limited or full tort.
So, in this article, you’ll learn what full tort coverage means, how it compares to limited Tort and how it compares to full coverage insurance.
But first, let’s understand what tort insurance means.
What is Tort Car Insurance?
Tort coverage addresses the right or ability of a policyholder to file a claim for pain and suffering related damages in the event of injuries suffered after an accident.
Typically, Tort is understood better in legal terms than in the insurance industry.
In insurance, Tort is used to assign the responsibility of liability, after an accident, to assign a penalty to the right person.
Tort insurance is divided into two:
- Tort systems (at-fault insurance systems)
- Non-tort systems (no-fault insurance systems)
In tort systems, once liability is determined, Tort assigns the at-fault driver the responsibility of covering the damages, losses, or injuries resulting from the accident. The victim has the right to sue to get paid for the damages.
Tort system may require the at-fault driver to pay for damages such as:
- Vehicle damage and repair costs
- Medical bills for the victim (and passengers)
- Pain and suffering of the victim (and passengers)
- Lost wages
Is Tort Coverage Purchased?
No, Tort coverage isn’t purchased. Tort insurance is a law that guides insurance compensation. Tort guides how your insurance coverage will handle your case in the event of an accident.
In tort systems, insurers include your choice of Tort as a “defined” clause on your policy.
The Tort clause only becomes relevant when you get involved in an accident and need to sue for compensation.
Types of Tort Insurance
In Tort states, there are two types of tort coverage:
- Full Tort Coverage
- Limited Tort coverage
The type of Tort you choose will determine the extent to which you can sue the at-fault driver for the accident-related damages and losses.
What is Full Tort Insurance?
Full Tort Definition: Full tort coverage is where you have the right to sue the at-fault driver for compensation of accident damages, including pain and suffering damages.
If the court awards the claim, you (the victim) will receive full compensation for damages, losses, and medical bills caused during the accident.
Compensation in full tort insurance includes non-monetary damages such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of wages
- Rehabilitation, including mental rehabilitation
Pain and suffering may include accident-related:
- Discomfort and physical pain
- Stress and anxiety
- Emotional pain and related treatment
The Benefits of Full Tort
It must have crossed your mind why insurers always encourage drivers to choose the Full Tort car insurance option.
Well, full Tort has benefits over limited Tort and no-fault system.
Although full tort insurance costs higher in premiums, it also comes with higher compensation.
While you may save a few coins on your premium with Limited Tort, it’s nothing compared to the general cost of an accident, including pain and suffering.
You will not know the effects of a car crash until weeks or months later. This can also come with trauma and increased expenses.
Since complications arise later, without Full Tort, you could be left traumatized and paying bills of the accident, which may drain both your health and finances.
Full Tort Vs. Limited Tort
Contrary to full Tort, limited Tort only allows drivers to sue for accident-related damages for serious injuries other than pain and suffering.
When you choose limited Tort, you waive your right to sue for intangible pain and suffering.
Examples of serious injuries are:
- Severe body function impairment
- Permanent disfigurement
The classification of serious injuries may differ from one insurance company to another.
What Does Full Tort Insurance Cost?
First, tort insurance isn’t purchased. It is not a type of insurance but a guideline.
However, if you choose tort insurance, you’ll pay a little more on your insurance premiums. Usually, the option of tort insurance has a cost that can range between $6 and 50 per month depending on multiple factors such as location, vehicle model, total coverage, or insurer.
Have your insurance provider explain to you the additional costs and how pain and suffering damages will be calculated.
Full Tort Vs. Full Coverage: Does full Tort mean full coverage?
No, full Tort and full coverage aren’t the same.
Full coverage combines the three main types of car insurance — liability, collision, and comprehensive. Full coverage insurance isn’t really a type of car insurance.
On the other hand, having full tort insurance means retaining your right to sue for damages after an accident, including pain and suffering. This gives you the benefit of full compensation.
Having full coverage doesn’t necessarily mean you also have full tort coverage. So, if you’re in a full tort state, ask your insurance provider or agent if they also offer full coverage so that you can benefit from their discounts.
Tort System Vs. No-Fault System
The no-fault system contrasts the tort system. In the no-fault system, in addition to liability coverage, drivers are also required to purchase personal injury protection (PIP) insurance to cover their medical bills and that of their passengers.
The drivers in no-fault states don’t have to rely on the at-fault driver’s insurance for compensation.
No-fault systems don’t allow drivers to sue other drivers for damages, but with a few exceptions.
Which States Use Tort Coverage System?
Insurers categorize states as Tort and No-fault states.
Most states in the US use full Tort except twelve states, which are No-fault insurance states.
The 12 no-fault states are:
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Dakota
The rest of the states are Tort states.
Is Full Tort Coverage Worth It?
Whether or not full tort insurance is worth it depends on:
- Personal preference
If you’re comfortable paying higher premiums to get the benefits of full tort insurance, then it’s worth getting. The added benefit of retaining the right to sue for pain and suffering makes full comfort even more valuable to have.
The worth of full Tort comes down to the risk you’re willing to take compared to whether or not you’ll be comfortable paying the cost.
It also depends on your desire to pursue pain and suffering damages in court. This also means you’ll seek the services of a lawyer to receive your damages.
If you live in a tort state, it’s advisable to choose full tort coverage over limited Tort, even if it means spending a few extra coins. Full tort coverage is worth it. It can save you from spending from out of your pocket when an accident causes pain and suffering. You’d rather pay more on premiums than spend more on medical bills from a car accident.