An Overview of § 1717 under the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law (MVFRL)

Section § 1717, titled "Stacking of Benefits," prohibits the practice of 'stacking' insurance coverage limits in instances where multiple vehicles are insured under the same policy or multiple policies cover the individual for the same loss in Pennsylvania.
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Statutory Text

§ 1717. Stacking of benefits.

First party benefits shall not be increased by stacking the limits of coverage of:

(1) multiple motor vehicles covered under the same policy of insurance; or

(2) multiple motor vehicle policies covering the individual for the same loss.

Key Terms:

"Stacking"

This refers to the practice of combining the insurance coverage limits for multiple vehicles insured under the same policy, or from multiple insurance policies, to increase the potential payment in case of a loss.

"First party benefits"

This includes the benefits that are provided directly to policyholders and their passengers if injured in an accident.

"Limits of coverage"

Refers to the maximum amount that the insurance company will pay to cover losses under a policy.

"Policy of insurance"

A contract detailing the terms and conditions of an insurance agreement between the policy holder and the insurance provider.

"Same loss"

If an individual suffers from one accident or injury event, they cannot receive payments from multiple insurance covers.

Significance for Pennsylvania Drivers:

This section of the MVFRL dictates how drivers can access and claim their insurance benefits following an automotive accident in Pennsylvania. Understanding its provisions helps policyholders to know the exact extent of their entitlements under auto insurance policies. Pennsylvanian drivers cannot enhance their compensation by 'stacking' coverage limits, making it crucial for them to choose the right coverages and limits for their unique needs to adequately protect themselves financially in the event of a loss.

Importance for Pennsylvania Attorneys:

For attorneys, this section of the MVFRL provides critical information when advising clients about auto insurance claims and coverage disputes. It poses legal limitations on compensation for drivers involved in accidents, impacts the interpretation of insurance contracts, and defines policy terms in lawsuits. In-depth knowledge of this section allows attorneys to effectively advocate for their clients' rights, negotiate with insurance companies, and provide accurate advice.

Advanced Language Analysis:

The language in this section is particularly clear and unequivocal, leaving little room for ambiguous interpretations. The use of the word "shall" in the first sentence asserts a legal obligation, declaring that ‘stacking’ of coverage limits is strictly prohibited. Moreover, the conjunction "or" provides distinct scenarios where the stacking prohibition applies: under multiple vehicles within one insurance policy and multiple policies for one individual. These specifications reduce uncertainties about application boundaries of the law.

However, terms such as "multiple motor vehicle policies" would benefit from further clarification in differentiating between policies held with different insurers and multiple policies with one insurer. Despite the brevity of the wording, the section immensely impacts both drivers' coverage expectations and attorneys' strategizing in insurance negotiations and litigations.

By choosing precise, unambiguous language, the MVFRL ensures a strong, clear understanding of the regulations regarding stacking benefits in Pennsylvania, minimizing potential disputes around their enforcement. However, the lack of definitions for key terms may necessitate judicial interpretation in case of disputes, stressing the need for periodic review and update.

About the author
Von Wooding

Von Wooding

Counsel Stack develops grounded language models equipped with research, retrieval, and drafting tools. We offer legal leads, pre-built intelligent applications, and white label solutions.

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