What to Consider When Customizing Your Car Insurance Policy

Everyone who owns an automobile is supposed to have an insurance policy providing protection for damages they may cause to others, property, and bodily injury, and if it is their choice, also providing coverage to themselves and their personal automobile. There are many pieces and options that can be a part of your auto insurance policy. Here’s what to consider when customizing your car insurance policy in Pennsylvania:

1. Liability Limits

First, there is the liability section of the policy. This coverage protects you against the financial responsibility that you may incur due to you being the cause of an accident. This applies to bodily injury, BI, caused to another person and property damage, PD, of others, including vehicles and other physical property. You can find information about your current policy limits on your insurance policy DEC page.

There are minimum limits required by statute, and the amount varies by state. For example, in Pennsylvania, the minimum is $15,000/$30,000/$5,000. This means $15,000 per person for bodily injury, $30,000 per accident for bodily injury, and $5,000 for property damage per accident. Just a note, these limits are very minimal in today’s economy! Are state minimum limits enough? Usually not!

2. Full Tort vs Limited Tort

The choice of Full Tort or Limited Tort is another decision that needs to be made. This refers to the right to sue in the event of a loss. Full tort allows you to bring a lawsuit for any situation where limited tort restricts you to specific occurrences.

Full Tort usually adds more to your car insurance premium than Limited Tort, but it also offers you more protection and more options if something happens. If you are comparing car insurance quotes, make sure the coverage options are the same to make sure you are comparing actual savings and not just less insurance.

3. Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Protection

Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Protection gives you personal protection for bodily injury to you caused by another motorist who has low or minimal liability limits on their policy. This can be very valuable protection seeing that there are considerable numbers of people who drive with lower liability coverage. You have the option to purchase varying limits or reject this coverage completely.

4. First Party Benefits

First Party Benefits is the part of the policy that protects you and members of your household against injury caused by an auto. There are also varying limits and it includes medical expense, wage loss, funeral expense, and accidental death payments. Perhaps the two most critical coverages would be the medical expense and wage loss. These areas have the potential to impact your personal finances the most.

5. Physical Damage

Physical damage coverage for your vehicles is often an option you can add. If your vehicle is financed, the finance company will require you to have this protection. You can choose varying deductibles and the higher the deductible the more premium savings you will experience.

Should you remove physical damage coverage for your vehicle? In some cases, you may not have a choice and in some cases, it may make sense. With the value of today’s vehicles and the cost of repairs, physical damage coverage makes increased sense to have on your autos.

6. Trailers

When do you need insurance for a trailer? Before we discuss the optional add-ons that you can purchase when customizing your car insurance policy, here is a quick note on any, and all, types of trailers you may have.

On a personal auto policy, you have automatic liability protection for a trailer that you are towing with a vehicle insured on the personal auto policy. If you want physical damage protection on your trailer, then you must have the unit listed on the policy. This is a critical consideration for trailer insurance.

When it comes to insurance for RVs and travel trailers, that liability protection may not extend to them once they are at the campsite and no longer being towed by the vehicle on a standard auto policy. There may also be other limits to consider that make a recreational vehicle insurance policy a better option than simply listing a trailer on your regular auto policy.

7. Optional Add-Ons

Now for the optional add-ons! These add-ons are all optional additions and endorsements to consider when you are customizing your car insurance policy. One of the car insurance myths is that comprehensive coverage means complete protection. Depending on your situation, you may have coverage gaps in your current policy that need to be addressed.

Not all of them will make sense for you, but there may be some add-ons that turn out to be invaluable. Talking to your insurance agent about your specific situation and needs can help you determine which add-ons make sense and which are unnecessary, especially if you are in the process of shopping for a new car insurance policy.


Some policies will include towing within certain parameters as a member benefit while other policies may not include any portion of it automatically. You can add towing to your car insurance policy.

This will give you a limit of coverage if your auto needs to be towed for nearly any reason. There are different levels of mileage covered. The longer the range the more premium will be charged for the protection.

Rental Coverage

Do you need rental car insurance? That depends on your personal auto policy. If you don’t have current rental protection on your car insurance policy, you can purchase rental coverage. This will pay for that rental vehicle you need while your auto is in the body shop due to an accident. This can be valuable in the current marketplace with the uncertainty of the availability of parts.

This is often limited to a maximum dollar amount per day and a specified number of days. There are many factors that can affect rental car coverage, so it is important you know your policy limits and are assured that they are enough.

Replacement Cost/Gap Coverage

Some insurance companies have replacement cost and/or gap coverage. This gives you protection for that new vehicle you recently purchased and have just wrecked/totaled!

The policy will pay the cost to replace your vehicle at full value. This usually is for a limited time such as the first two years of ownership of the auto. This can be valuable with the cost of new vehicles and substantial deprecation factors.

Roadside Assistance

Many companies are now providing “roadside assistance” benefits. This is similar to the third-party plans you may have purchased. It provides some towing and other benefits but may be more limited with restrictions that the third-party plan does not have. Make sure you understand what is provided before you substitute the one for the other.

Pet Insurance

Pet insurance is a recently added coverage you can purchase. Again, not every company offers this, but it is becoming more prevalent. This provides limited protection for your pet while riding in your vehicle.

It will cover vet bills for an injury, and in some cases burial expenses, as a result of the pet riding in your car. It may also help cover the cost of a replacement pet. The benefits vary by the insurance company so inquire with your agent if this is of value to you.

There Are Several Things to Consider When Customizing Your Car Insurance Policy

As you can see, an auto insurance policy has many parts to it and can be customized to meet your specific needs and desires. This is not an exhaustive list of what might be available, which is another reason to have a conversation with your agent to see what may be available from your carrier.

When it comes to what type of car insurance you need, a conversation with your agent will be a big help. If you have specific questions, you may call our agency, Ruhl Insurance, and talk to one of our professional and knowledgeable agents. We can be reached at 717-665-2283 or toll-free at 800-537-6880.

Disclaimer: Information and claims presented in this content are meant for informative, illustrative purposes and should not be considered legally binding.