Featured Expert
Ashley Schoch PennDOT View bio

This guide was written by

MoneyGeek Staff

From Three Rivers Stadium to the Liberty Bell, Pennsylvania is a state of cultural icons. It’s also a state with its share of small towns and country roads. Wherever you drive in the Keystone State, you should have insurance, something that almost all of the drivers in the state take seriously. Read on to learn more about insurance requirements and other rules of the road in Pennsylvania.

What Pennsylvania Requires for Auto Insurance

Summary

When it comes to insurance, Pennsylvania gives consumers more choices than many other states. But these choices can be tricky. Before you purchase a policy, be sure you understand your options and what you’re really getting for your money.

Who Needs Vehicle Insurance in Pennsylvania?

All vehicle owners must have and provide proof of auto liability coverage to register a car or truck for legal road use in Pennsylvania.

Showing Proof of Insurance

Much like a driver’s license, Pennsylvania drivers must carry proof of insurance with them on the road. This can be in the form of:

  • An insurance ID card
  • A copy of the policy
  • A letter from the insurance company
  • A copy of the Pennsylvania Assigned Risk Plan for high-risk drivers
  • A digital image of the insurance card stored on a smartphone

What Pennsylvania Requires for Auto Insurance

Drivers in Pennsylvania have two choices for auto insurance: full tort or limited-tort. Limited tort, also known as no-fault insurance, essentially pays up no matter who is at fault for an accident. However, it also limits your rights to sue another driver for pain and suffering (except in catastrophic injuries). With full-tort insurance, you maintain your right to sue, but your premiums will be higher.

No matter which option you choose, you’ll still have to buy liability coverage that will cover the cost of injuries or damages that you may cause.

The minimum requirements for insurance:

  • $15,000 in liability coverage per person, per accident
  • $30,000 liability coverage total per accident.
  • $5,000 in liability coverage per accident for property damage
  • $5,000 in medical payments coverage
  • Uninsured motorist insurance, which insurers must offer but you can decline in writing if so desired

Pennsylvania: No Alternative to Auto Insurance

Unlike some other states, Pennsylvania has no alternative to auto insurance. The state does require insurance companies to participate in the Assigned Risk Plan, which guarantees insurance coverage to drivers with checkered records. If you’ve been turned down by other auto insurance plans because you’re considered a high-risk driver, contact the Pennsylvania Assigned Risk Plan at 401-946-2800.

What Happens If You Drive Without Car Insurance in Pennsylvania?

Fines and penalties are automatic for drivers who are caught without insurance in Pennsylvania, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation:

  • Minimum fine of $300.
  • Three-month suspension of vehicle registration (unless you went less than 31 days without insurance and you can prove you were not driving your car during that time)

If the state suspends your license, no one can drive the vehicle. Violations can result in the impoundment of the car or truck.

Re-registering a vehicle and restoring a driver’s license after suspension requires paying an $88 fee for each to the DMV.

Is the Minimum Coverage Enough in Pennsylvania?

That depends on the car you’re driving and how much you can afford. If you get a new car loan or lease a vehicle, you will likely have to buy collision and comprehensive insurance to protect your car.

What Percentage of Drivers in
Pennsylvania Lack Vehicle Insurance?
6.5% National Average: 12.6 %

And the minimum requirements for state liability insurance were set years ago, so they won’t come close to paying for the damages in a catastrophic accident. The Insurance Information Institute says experts recommend at least $100,000 per injury and at least $300,000 per accident. If you find the right plan, you may not have to pay as much insurance for that coverage as you think.

Uninsured motorist insurance is also good to get if you can afford it. For more on what you need to protect your family, see MoneyGeek guide to car insurance 101.

Car Insurance and Special Groups

Teen Drivers in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, teen drivers who own a car have to carry at least the same minimum liability insurance as everyone else. Teens with learner’s permits must also complete 65 hours of practice driving under adult supervision to obtain a regular license.

Because auto insurance rates are typically higher for inexperienced drivers, the Pennsylvania Insurance Department suggests raising the deductible on the family car if a teen will be behind the wheel. In some cases, it may be less expensive to buy and insure a (safe) used car for the teen.

How a Teen Affects Your Pennsylvania Car Insurance Premium

Median annual price change for families with a teen driver on their policy:

$1,940 increase This is a difference of 139%.
Comparison of Premium Ranges
25th - 75th Percentile Median
Watch Your Speed

Average annual premium increase if a teen gets a speeding ticket while driving 11 to 15 mph over the speed limit:

Male teen

$211

Speedometer
Female teen

$211

Discounts for Pennsylvania's Teen Drivers

Impact on annual premium with Good Student and Defensive Driving discounts:

$241 saved

Compare Premiums of Pennsylvania Providers

You can save hundreds and even thousands of dollars by shopping for an inexpensive policy. Check out the annual average premiums for a married couple with a 16-year-old teen driver in Pennsylvania:

Insurance Provider Min MEDIAN MAX
Nationwide $1,501 $2,274 $6,059
State Farm $1,583 $3,187 $7,477
Allstate $1,617 $3,167 $10,698
Erie $2,119 $3,453 $10,686
Progressive $2,688 $6,156 $16,392

Check Out How Car Choice Affects Pennsylvania Auto Insurance Premiums

Insurers consider sedans and minivans a safer choice for teens than sports cars, and premium rates reflect that.

Average premium for two 2014
Mustang GTs

$4,850

Average premium for two 2008
Town and Country Limiteds

$3,213

Annual benefit of minivans:

$1,637 saved This is 34% less expensive.
Premium Comparison for Two Adults + 16 Year Old
25th - 75th Percentile Median

College Students in Pennsylvania

Out-of-state students with a valid license can drive in Pennsylvania without getting a new license. Whether staying in-state or moving out-of-state to attend school, students should always let their insurance companies know where the vehicle is primarily located. Pennsylvania’s no-fault insurance requirements put the financial burden of an accident on you, so loaning a car to a friend may not be a wise move.

High School vs. College: Who Has Lower Premiums in Pennsylvania?

Median annual premium change with a college student vs. high school driver

$600 decrease This is a savings of 18%.
Comparison of Premium Ranges
25th - 75th Percentile Median

Annual Premiums: How Pennsylvania Insurers Compare

Each year, take a look at your policy before it renews to see whether you could get a better deal. Here are the average premiums for a married couple with a 19-year-old college student in Pennsylvania.

Provider Min MEDIAN MAX
Nationwide $1,467 $2,110 $5,224
State Farm $1,116 $2,332 $5,445
Erie $1,685 $2,695 $7,485
Allstate $1,441 $2,814 $9,652
Progressive $2,152 $4,920 $13,556

Pennsylvania College Drivers: Distance Discount

You may see a modest break in your family’s premium if your student moves 150+ miles away from home.

Average premium for a 19-year-old male
  • $3,279 at home
  • $3,008 at school
  • $271 in savings
Average premium for a 19-year-old female
  • $3,279 at home
  • $3,008 at school
  • $271 in savings

College Students in Pennsylvania: Mustangs vs. Minivans

A college student driving a minivan will cost less to insure than if he or she drives a sports car — something that reflects the lower risk to insurers.

2014 Mustang GTs (2)

$4,015

2008 Town and Country Limited minivans (2)

$2,604

Annual benefit of minivans

$1,411 saved This is 35% less expensive.
Premium Comparison for Two Adults + College Driver
25th - 75th Percentile Median

Military Drivers in Pennsylvania

The Keystone State of Pennsylvania requires all motor vehicle owners to carry insurance before they can register a car or truck and buy license plates. For veterans and military families in Pennsylvania, the good news is you can expect to get a discount on auto insurance just for your service. Major insurance companies offer the discount to stay competitive with each other. Military-focused insurance companies work only with armed forces personnel, and some insurance companies cater just to veterans.

Pennsylvania has about 2,600 active-duty military personnel living in the state and more than 309,000 veterans.

The Pennsylvania Insurance Department offers tips on buying car insurance as well as the state’s requirements for minimum coverage. A service member can maintain Pennsylvania vehicle registration or switch it over to the state where they’re stationed. If registered in Pennsylvania, the annual renewal in most cases can be completed online. All the forms you need are here.

Pennsylvania Service Members:
How Your Vehicle Choice Affects Your Premium

Rollover crashes are more common among SUVs and pickups, but according to our research, an older model SUV has less impact on your premium than a recent model sports car.

Military Drivers: A Comparison of Premium Ranges by Driver Age and Vehicle
25-Year-Old Driver
50-Year-Old Driver
25th - 75th Percentile Median

Age Savings for Pennsylvania
Service Members

Median auto insurance
for service members:

$1,074
Male (25 yrs)$1,418
Male (50 yrs)$1,133
$285 savings
Female (25 yrs)$1,418
Female (50 yrs)$1,133
$285 savings

Compare Average Premiums Available to Pennsylvania Military Personnel

When you're looking for the best auto insurance, it pays to do some comparison shopping. Check out the average annual rates you can get in Pennsylvania.

Premium Comparison for a Military Driver
25th - 75th Percentile Median

Seniors in Pennsylvania

Drivers 55 and up who complete a two-day safety seminar qualify in Pennsylvania for a 5 percent discount on their auto insurance which is good for three years. Renewal requires a one-day refresher course.

Undocumented Workers in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania allows all residents, regardless of immigration status, to apply for a driver’s license. The same auto insurance laws apply to all licensed drivers.

Ridesharing Insurance in Pennsylvania: What’s Going On?

Pennsylvania lawmakers are considering a plan to regulate ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft. Right now, ridesharing companies operate under a two-year authority from the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission that expires at the end of 2016. Permanent regulation is expected by then. The proposal calls for regular vehicle inspections, proof of liability and no-fault auto insurance coverage and background checks on contracting drivers.

If you’re a ridesharing driver:

In the meantime, if you’re a driver in a ridesharing service, talk with your insurance agent to make sure you’re fully covered. Personal auto policies generally don’t cover commercial uses (such as driving for pay), but in Pennsylvania, Progressive is now offering ridesharing insurance. Passengers should talk with their agent as well, because ridesharing companies don’t always carry as much insurance as cabs.

Car Accidents: What Pennsylvania Requires for Filing a Claim

The Pennsylvania DMV advises motorists to take these steps after an accident:

  • Exchange contact information with all drivers and witnesses
  • Write down the license plates and the make/model of all vehicles involved in the accident
  • Complete Form AA-600 within five days of the crash and mail it to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation

In Pennsylvania, you have up to two years to file a lawsuit in a car or truck crash if you are unsatisfied with an insurance company’s settlement.

Driver Safety: How Does Pennsylvania Rank?

Pennsylvania is slightly better in terms of fatal crashes than the United States as a whole, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“While our four-year average did not meet the goal for reducing the total traffic fatalities, it was a record low since 1928 record-keeping began,” says Ashley Schoch, spokeswoman for the state’s Department of Transportation. And although the state did not meet its goal for reducing the number of people killed while not wearing seatbelts, Schoch says, there were 42 fewer deaths in 2014 than 2013 — a 10 percent reduction. She added that Pennsylvania also reduced serious crash-related injuries last year by 6.4 percent compared to the year prior.

Pennsylvania Driver Safety Ranking

39th in the U.S.
About Our Data

The driver safety table shows the different safety factors that contribute to your state's overall safety rank (in the green box). The overall safety ranking and the National Ranking column scores in each category (including crash fatality rates) are from safest to most dangerous, with 1st being the safest and 51st the least safe.

How did we create the safety rankings?

We created a traffic safety ranking of all US states plus the District of Columbia by combining data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. We looked at fatality rates by distance traveled as well as by population and gave more weight to behaviors that were riskier and preventable (i.e., drunk driving, not using a seat belt), as well as to accidents that involved more than one party (i.e., multi-vehicle).

Driver Safety Profile Number of Fatalities Fatality Rate

The fatality rate is the rate per one billion vehicle miles traveled, except for pedestrian and bicyclist fatality measures, which are per measured per a population of 100,000.

Ranking
(National)

Rankings are in order of safest to least safe. A state with the lowest fatality rate would be the safest, and thus ranked #1.

Drunk Driving-Related Fatalities 362 3.67 39th
Speeding-Related Fatalities 550 5.58 47th
Passenger Vehicle Unrestrained Fatalities 419 4.25 33rd
Unhelmeted Motorcycle Fatalities 94 0.95 35th
Multiple Vehicle Fatalities 553 5.61 38th
Pedestrian Fatalities 147 1.15 22nd
Bicyclist Fatalities 11 0.09 10th
Total Vehicle Fatalities 1,208 12.25 33rd

Sources: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

Pennsylvania: Protecting You from Injury on the Road

The Keystone State has some excellent traffic safety laws, including a ban on texting and driving, an open container law and an optimal booster seat law. But Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety gives it a yellow “caution” rating for some gaps. The alliance of consumer, medical and insurer groups encourages Pennsylvania to add an all-rider motorcycle helmet law, require mandatory ignition interlocks for DUIs and to pull over drivers who aren’t buckled up.

Pennsylvania uses federal grant money to fund traffic safety initiatives, says Ashley Schoch, adding that the transportation department will use those dollars to help reduce impaired driving, educate people about buckling up and protect young drivers. Through strong enforcement of drunk driving laws, the state is also on target to cut the number of alcohol-related highway deaths by 50 percent by 2030, she adds.

Safe Driving Laws – Pennsylvania

  Requirement Pennsylvania Law Details
Mandatory seat belts Required of all vehicle occupants.
Child passenger safety Children 8 and under must ride in safety seat. $75 fine for violation.
Driving under the influence (DUI) Blood alcohol content is 0.08 at the legal limit. Penalties and fines run higher for increased blood alcohol concentration (0.10 and > 0.16). First offense, $300 fine and license suspension; penalties for subsequent convictions range from license suspension to up to $5,000 in fines and five days to up to two years in jail.
Ignition interlock after DUI Partial Mandatory after second offense.
Talking on cell or texting while driving Texting banned; $50 fine.
Protections for young drivers Graduated driver’s license, including a road test and 65 hours of supervised driver training.
Motorcycle helmet law (partial) Required for riders 21 and under. Required for all riders unless licensed for a motorcycle at least two years or after completion of a safety course.
Bicycle helmet law (partial) Required for children 12 and younger.

Sources: Governors Highway Safety Association and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Car Insurance Resources for Pennsylvania Residents

Insurance Law Fact Sheet

Consumer resource produced by the Pennsylvania DMV, outlining auto insurance requirements for state drivers.

Pennsylvania Highway Safety

Overview of primary safe driving laws in Pennsylvania compiled by the Governor’s Highway Safety Association.

Pennsylvania Insurance Department

Guide to shopping for auto insurance, dealing with insurance problems and filing complaints.

Teen Driver Pennsylvania DMV

Information on auto insurance, applying for a learner’s permit, safety issues and restrictions.