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Pennsylvania Unlicensed Driver Exclusion

For many years, car insurance companies in Pennsylvania have denied injury claims of unlicensed drivers. This is known as the Pennsylvania unlicensed driver exclusion. In this article, we will discuss what the exclusion is, who is excluded, and how a 2023 appeals court ruling changes the exclusion.

pennsylvania unlicensed driver exclusion

What Is The Pennsylvania Unlicensed Driver Exclusion?

Car insurance policies written in Pennsylvania include language that excludes insurance coverage in certain situations. The unlicensed driver exclusion denies coverage in the event an unlicensed driver is operating the covered vehicle.

What Is An Unlicensed Driver?

In Pennsylvania, an unlicensed driver is defined as anyone operating a motor vehicle without a valid driver’s license. This includes drivers who operate a motor vehicle on a public highway or public property and:
never had a valid driver’s license
have a suspended/canceled/expired driver’s license

Unlicensed drivers in the state of Pennsylvania are subject to criminal charges. But, an appeals court decision finds the unlicensed driver exclusion is unlawful in the state of Pennsylvania.

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Appeals Court Ruling In Pennsylvania

In 2023, an appeals court decision found the unlicensed driver exclusion conflicts with the Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Act (MVFR). The MVFR requires insurance coverage for first-party medical benefits no matter who is at fault. The unlicensed driver exclusion violates this requirement, and is therefor invalid.

Here are a few basic details about the court case that challenged the unlicensed driver exclusion in Pennsylvania. An unlicensed driver was rear-ended while driving her mother’s car. The mother had insurance coverage for the car and was riding in the vehicle at the time of the crash. However, the mother’s insurance company denied coverage for the unlicensed driver’s medical expenses citing the unlicensed driver exclusion.

The appeals court found that the unlicensed driver exclusion violates state law requiring first-party medical coverage. PA state law allows exceptions to coverage only when a driver intentionally tries to harm themselves or others, is attempting to elude police, or during the commission of a felony.

Unlicensed Drivers In Pennsylvania

It is important to remember a few things:
Driving without a license is a crime in Pennsylvania.
This court decision did not extend to property damage claims and only covers first-party (PIP) coverage – when insurance coverage is applicable.

Pennsylvania Injury Law Firm

If you have questions regarding coverage for injuries related to a car crash, talk to a Pennsylvania injury attorney. The attorneys of Haggerty Silverman & Justice are here to help with a free legal consultation. Contact us today for a free consultation with a Pennsylvania injury attorney.