Understanding the Differences Between NJ Auto Insurance Provisions
Auto insurance is a vital component of responsible vehicle ownership, protecting drivers and passengers in the event of accidents. In New Jersey, auto insurance policies are subject to unique regulations that distinguish between two key types of personal injury protection (PIP) thresholds: zero tort and verbal threshold. Understanding these thresholds is crucial for both drivers and policyholders. In this article, we examine PIP and explore the differences between zero tort and verbal thresholds in New Jersey.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) is a type of auto insurance coverage that is required in New Jersey and several other states. PIP is designed to provide coverage for medical expenses and, in some cases, other related costs, for you and your passengers in the event of an auto accident, regardless of who is at fault. PIP coverage typically includes the following benefits:
- Medical Expenses: PIP will cover reasonable and necessary medical expenses resulting from an auto accident. This can include hospital bills, doctor’s visits, surgery, and rehabilitation.
- Lost Wages: If you’re unable to work due to injuries sustained in an accident, PIP can provide coverage for a portion of your lost income.
- Essential Services: PIP can cover expenses related to essential services that you may need if you are unable to perform household tasks or take care of dependents because of your injuries.
- Funeral Expenses: In the unfortunate event of a fatal accident, PIP can help cover funeral and burial expenses.
- Survivor’s Benefits: PIP may provide benefits to the dependents of a person killed in a car accident.
The specifics of PIP coverage can vary from one auto insurance policy to another, so it’s important to review your policy and understand the limits and details of your PIP coverage. In New Jersey, PIP coverage is mandatory, and it is often referred to as “no-fault” insurance because it provides benefits regardless of who caused the accident. This system is intended to ensure that injured individuals receive prompt medical care and compensation without the need to establish fault through a legal process.
It’s important to note that PIP coverage is just one part of your auto insurance policy. In addition to PIP, you may also have liability coverage (which covers you if you are responsible for an accident and cause injury to others; uninsured/underinsured coverage (UM/UIM covers you if an at-fault drive has little or no insurance); collision (which covers the vehicle damage); and others.
Zero Tort Threshold
Zero tort, also known as the no-threshold option, is one of the choices available to policyholders in New Jersey. With zero tort, an insured individual maintains an unlimited right to sue for pain and suffering regardless of the severity of their injuries. This means that regardless of how minor or severe an injury is, a person with a zero tort policy can pursue a lawsuit against the at-fault party.
The primary benefit of having zero tort vs. verbal threshold coverage is the flexibility it provides in seeking compensation for pain and suffering type of personal injury lawsuit damages. If you select this option, you can file a lawsuit to recover damages for non-economic losses, such as emotional distress, pain, and suffering, without any significant limitations. This can be especially beneficial if you sustain serious injuries in an accident and wish to hold the responsible party accountable.
However, zero tort policies often come with higher insurance premiums because of the increased risk to insurers. Furthermore, even with the option to sue for pain and suffering, not all accidents will result in a lawsuit. Not all accidents are worth the effort after all lawsuit expenses are factored into the equation.
The verbal threshold, on the other hand, is a more restrictive option available in New Jersey auto insurance policies. With a verbal threshold policy, individuals must meet specific criteria to file a lawsuit for pain and suffering. The criteria typically involve proving that their injuries fall into certain predefined categories of severity, such as permanent disfigurement, loss of a body part, or significant scarring, among others.
The advantage of a verbal threshold policy is that it often comes with lower insurance premiums, as the insurer’s liability for pain and suffering claims is limited to more severe injuries. However, the downside is that policyholders may be unable to pursue lawsuits for pain and suffering in cases where only soft-tissue injuries are suffered. This potentially limits plaintiffs the ability to seek compensation for non-economic damages.
If You Have Any Questions, Call 888-964-2224
The Differences Between Zero Tort and Verbal Thresholds
To summarize, the key differences between zero tort and verbal threshold options in New Jersey auto insurance policies are:
- Right to Sue: Zero tort allows policyholders to sue for pain and suffering regardless of injury severity, while verbal threshold policyholders can only sue if their injuries meet specific criteria.
- Premiums: Zero tort policies typically have higher premiums due to the increased risk to insurers, while verbal threshold policies often come with lower premiums. Policy holders must weigh the potential settlement from a lawsuit with limited injuries versus the added premium. Premium savings can be substantial so this analysis is not as easy as it sounds and is dependent upon a large host of factors.
- Lawsuit Eligibility: Zero tort provides more flexibility in pursuing lawsuits, while verbal threshold limits the ability to sue for non-economic damages.
Choosing the Right Option – Zero Tort and Verbal Thresholds
Selecting the right PIP threshold option is an important decision when purchasing auto insurance in New Jersey. Your choice should align with your risk tolerance, financial situation, and personal preferences. If you have a higher risk tolerance and prioritize the ability to sue for pain and suffering in a wide range of circumstances, zero tort may be the better choice. If you are more concerned with cost savings and are comfortable with the limitations on lawsuits for pain and suffering, the verbal threshold option might be more suitable.
Thank you for your interest in Fair Rate Funding – a leader in the lawsuit funding industry since 2007.