your guide to specialized coverages: our lesser-known types of car insurance coverage

Most people have a basic understanding of the big-name coverages like liability, comprehensive, and collision. But there are several lesser known types of car insurance that can prove just as vital to a well-rounded auto policy. We'll explain.

right to recover damages (tort) coverage (new jersey and pennsylvania only)

The word "tort" refers to your legal right to recover damages. In this case, it refers to your right to recover damages, through the courts, from an at-fault driver for injuries sustained in a car accident.

In New Jersey and Pennsylvania, you can choose between limited tort and full tort. Both options allow you to sue for the recovery of medical expenses, but the full option lets you sue for additional damages like pain and suffering. As a result, the full tort option is generally more expensive.

  • Full right to recover damages (full tort): If you select full tort, you and members of your household can sue the at-fault driver for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other non-monetary damages for any accident-related injury.
  • Limited right to recover damages (limited tort): With limited tort options, those injured in a covered accident can receive compensation for medical and other accident-related expenses like lost wages.

The upside: By choosing limited tort, your premiums for either property damage liability, combined first party benefits (FPB), and FPB income loss coverage will generally be lower than they'd be had you chosen the full tort option.

The downside: You're limited in your ability to sue the at-fault driver for pain and suffering and other non-monetary damages unless you've sustained a serious injury (loss of a body part, significant scarring, any permanent injury, etc.).

income loss coverage (pennsylvania and virginia only)

As its name implies, income loss helps you, drivers listed on your policy, and your passengers recover lost wages if accident-related injuries prevent someone from working.

  • Pennsylvania: Known as first party benefits — income loss, this coverage helps recover up to 80 percent of wages lost because of accident-related injuries. It's available at limits of $2,500 per month and $50,000 per incident.
  • Virginia: Though the definition is the same, the limits differ from those in Pennsylvania. In Virginia, income loss will pay up to $100 per person, per vehicle each week. For example, on a policy that covers 2 vehicles, the income loss coverage will pay up to $200 per person, per week.

optional basic economic loss (new york only)

Available in New York, optional basic economic loss adds an additional $25,000 of coverage to the required personal injury protection (PIP) coverage limits. In other words, this extra coverage will kick in once the max limit of your PIP coverage is exceeded.

supplemental family member liability (maryland only)

Available in Maryland when you select a higher-than-required bodily injury limit, supplemental family member liability (SFML) can cover injured family members in accidents you cause. SFML coverage can help pay medical expenses, lost wages, and related pain-and-suffering costs.

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Coverage options in your state
Find out about the other coverages available in your neck of the woods.

Comprehensive and collision coverage
Find out about the 2 main coverages that can help repair your damaged car or property.

Bodily injury and property damage liability coverage
Read up on the coverages that pay for damage you cause in an accident.