Tort Insurance: All About Full vs Limited Tort Car Insurance

By Randy Luton | Last Updated: 11/23/2022

A comprehensive system of auto insurance called “Tort Insurance” enables drivers to seek compensation from third parties who caused an accident. A tort system does not mandate drivers to have their own insurance, but it places a more significant focus on liability insurance to cover any injuries they may cause. In contrast, in no-fault coverage, drivers are required to carry insurance to cover both their own and their passengers’ injuries.

Drivers can purchase more expensive auto insurance policies in some no-fault states that provide them the legal right to sue for additional damages, namely “pain and suffering.” In Pennsylvania, a limited tort insurance is an alternative to this, which is known as a full tort insurance policy.

What is Tort Insurance?

Tort insurance coverage is a type of car insurance in which the party that caused the accident might be liable for the losses. It is not offered by all insurance companies and is state-specific.

The majority of states in the U.S. adhere to tort insurance law, which means that the person or entity who caused the loss is liable for the damages. Although they follow both tort and no-fault legislation; Kentucky, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania are no-fault states that let drivers claim compensation in specific circumstances.

Full Tort vs Limited Tort Insurance

The tort is a complex type of insurance. There are two types that affect your ability to seek damages: full tort vs limited tort.

The three no-fault states with tort alternatives Kentucky, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania are where you’ll most often hear the terms “Limited Tort” and “Full Tort” employed.

In these states, you might have the choice to effectively reject your state’s no-fault legislation while yet maintaining your right to sue another motorist.

What distinguishes limited from full tort, then? Remember that these states’ no-fault statutes only apply to injuries and medical costs before we may respond to them. Property damage claims are always resolved on a tort basis, which means the at-fault person is always liable for any harm they cause to other people’s property and cars.

Limited Tort Insurance

As the term implies, limited tort places restrictions on what you can claim against another driver. In general, limited tort means that you can only bring a claim for severe damage, and each state will set its own standard for this. Although limited tort is frequently less expensive, your recovery will be less than it would be under full tort.

Full Tort Insurance

Your right to sue an at-fault driver is expanded by full tort. You might be eligible to file a lawsuit for pain and suffering in addition to merely significant injuries. Keep in mind that a tort-based settlement is used to resolve property damage. Drivers are still required to pay for the property damage they cause in accidents, even in no-fault states.

Which states offer both limited and full tort auto insurance?

Car owners must decide between full tort and limited tort for their auto insurance in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Kentucky.


When another driver causes an accident, Pennsylvanians with limited tort car insurance may file a lawsuit to get compensation for their medical costs. However, you won’t be able to get compensation for “non-monetary” problems, such as losing the ability to engage in sports or active activities. Additionally, if the crash aggravated pre-existing injuries, you are powerless to intervene.

With very few exceptions, you cannot claim pain and suffering unless the accident caused serious harm as defined by the law.

Among these exclusions is a negligent motorist who was:

  • Driving when impaired by drink or drugs
  • Driving a car with another state’s registration
  • Wishing to cause harm to oneself or someone
  • Driving while uninsured

You have unfettered rights to file a lawsuit against the person who caused the vehicle accident in Pennsylvania if you purchase full tort coverage.

When purchasing auto insurance in Pennsylvania, you must specifically choose the limited tort option if you prefer it over the full tort option.

New Jersey

In New Jersey, you have the option of suing the other party who caused an automobile accident if you have full tort coverage. No matter how severe your injuries are, you can file a lawsuit for pain and suffering.

The limitation on lawsuit option, also known as limited tort coverage, restricts your ability to file a claim for injuries in New Jersey, with the following exceptions:

  • A bodily component is lost
  • Significant scars or disfigurement
  • Displaced fractures, in which a space develops where the bone breaks, frequently call for surgery
  • Death
  • To lose a fetus
  • Permanent injury, requiring ongoing medical care to operate normally


In Kentucky, unless the injuries surpass specific thresholds, those hurt in car accidents cannot file a lawsuit against the at-fault motorist to recover medical expenses, lost earnings, and other expenses, or for pain and suffering. These criteria are:

  • A $1,000 cost of healthcare
  • Broken limb
  • Permanent harm or deformity
  • Death

Kentucky drivers have the option to reject these restrictions on their legal rights. You must submit a particular form to the insurance department that rejects no-fault insurance. By doing this, you will have the ability to bring a lawsuit against the Kentucky driver who caused the collision.

Tort State vs No-Fault State

When it comes to auto insurance, states can be classified as either no-fault or at-fault/tort states. When it comes to auto accidents, the majority of the states in the union follow the at-fault principle. If you cause the damage, you are responsible for paying for it, frequently using your auto insurance coverage. Only 12 states have no-fault legislation, which means that following an accident, each driver is responsible for covering their own medical costs.

No-Fault States

In no-fault states, it’s a popular misperception that, regardless of who is at blame, each motorist is responsible for covering all losses, including injuries, vehicle damage, and rental cars. That is untrue.

Personal injury protection (PIP) coverage is referred to as “no-fault insurance,” which implies that each driver utilizes their own PIP to cover their injuries following a collision. By selecting a full or restricted tort, you may be able to keep your ability to file a lawsuit for your injuries in some no-fault states.

Tort States

States with a tort law require at-fault drivers to pay for the harm they cause. You probably won’t be able to choose between complete and restricted tort in states where there is tort law.

However, in areas where tort law is in effect, you never lose the ability to sue the at-fault driver thanks to these choices. You always have the right to file a claim for damages if another driver causes injuries or property damage.

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Does full tort law imply full coverage?

Full protection does not mean full tort protection. Getting an automobile insured with collision, comprehensive, and liability coverage is referred to as having full coverage. The ability to file a lawsuit for pain and suffering following an accident is preserved when you have full tort insurance.

Even if you have full insurance, you might not always have complete tort coverage in states where it’s an option. When purchasing a policy, it’s a good idea to inquire about tort insurance or a restricted right to sue if you reside in a states like Pennsylvania, Kentucky, or New Jersey.

How does tort insurance work?

There is no set formula that insurance companies, attorneys, or drivers must use when determining pain and suffering damages. On their websites, none of the large insurance firms provide calculators.

Following an accident, pain and suffering damages are estimated, frequently with the help of a lawyer. There are two main methods for estimating pain and suffering:

Multiple methods:

The sum of the medical bills is multiplied by a number, which frequently falls between 1.5 and 5. The amount to multiply by is typically determined by the seriousness of the injury, but it may also include other elements. The multiple methods may consider elements such as how much the other party is at fault and whether your family is suffering as a result of your injury.

Per diem method:

The per diem technique assigns a monetary value for each day a person is injured, multiplied by the total number of days the person is hampered by the injuries. But this approach is rarely applied.

The amount of compensation for pain and suffering that a motorist or attorney requests are not required to be honored by the insurance company. It’s possible that the business will decide that the multiplier utilized was too high, make a reduced settlement offer, or hire investigators to assess the seriousness of the matter. In the end, a lawsuit might be necessary to resolve the issue.

Is full tort insurance worth it?

If you’re willing to pay a higher premium in exchange for the added benefit of being able to pursue pain and suffering damages, full tort insurance is worthwhile to purchase.

It all boils down to how much danger a person is willing to accept and how much money they are willing to spend upfront.

It depends on your want to potentially pursue pain and suffering damages whether you need full tort vehicle insurance because, with limited tort, a driver still has access to medical coverage through a personal injury protection policy.

Having the option to sue also implies that the driver will almost certainly need to engage with a lawyer and even attend court in order to recover damages following an accident.

Want To Know More (FAQs)?

  • What Is the Cost of Tort Insurance?

    You must have liability insurance that will pay for any damages you could do to other people or their property if you live and drive in a state that upholds the tort system.
    The typical motorist will spend about $800 a year for complete auto insurance. If you merely buy liability insurance, that figure can be reduced.

  • What is Tort?

    A tort is typically defined as behavior that causes injury to other people or their property. The wronged party may be sued by the aggrieved party in order to obtain compensation for the harm or loss that was done. A tortuous action could also be illegal.

  • Do full tort cases cost more than limited tort cases?

    Full tort insurance often costs more than limited tort insurance when compared on a per-policy basis. The at-fault person may be sued for additional costs, such as pain and suffering if you have full tort insurance. The coverage is typically more expensive as a result of the increased scope of the potential to sue.

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Editorial Guidelines: The above is meant as general information to help you understand the different aspects of auto insurance. This information does not refer to any specific auto insurance policy. Coverages and other features vary between insurers, vary by state, and are not available in all states. References to costs of coverages/repair, average or typical premiums, amounts of losses, deductibles, etc., are indicative and may not apply to your situation. We encourage you to speak to our insurance representative and to read your policy contract to fully understand your coverages.

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Randy Luton is the Founder and CEO of RateForce. He is passionate about InsurTech services and has in-depth knowledge about the auto insurance sector of the USA.