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Pennsylvania Unlicensed Driver Exclusion

In Pennsylvania, the unlicensed driver exclusion is part of nearly every car insurance policy. What does it mean? Is it legal? Can you still recover benefits if insurance denies your claim under the unlicensed driver exclusion? In this article, we discuss the details of the unlicensed driver exclusion and developments in how the law applies.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This information only applies to the application of first-party medical benefits coverage in Pennsylvania, it does not apply to vehicle or property damage.

unlicensed driver exclusion changes in pennsylvania

What Is An Unlicensed Driver?

An unlicensed driver is any driver operating a vehicle without a valid driver’s license. This can be a driver that has never had a license, someone with an expired license, or a driver with a suspended license.

What Is The Unlicensed Driver Exclusion?

Most car insurance policies include wording to exclude unlicensed drivers from coverage under the policy. In Pennsylvania, if an unlicensed driver crashes the car the damage and any injuries may be denied by the insurance company. This would leave the car owner without coverage for the vehicle. Additionally, the unlicensed driver would be denied coverage for any injuries. But, this has changed in Pennsylvania.

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Changes To Unlicensed Driver Exclusion In Pennsylvania

In 2023, a Pennsylvania appeals court ruling changed how the unlicensed driver exclusion applies in the state of PA. The decision involves an unlicensed driver who was rear-ended and suffered injuries as a result.

Some details about this specific case:

  • This collision and the court case happened in the state of Pennsylvania.
  • The driver was unlicensed while operating her mother’s vehicle, with her mother’s permission. The owner was also a passenger in the same car at the time of the collision.
  • While the owner and driver have a family relationship, they do not live together in the same house.
  • The driver was not insured under any other car insurance policy.
  • The vehicle was registered and insured in Pennsylvania.
  • The unlicensed driver of the car was injured in the collision and attempted to seek treatment under first-party medical coverage. This is also referred to as Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage.
  • Personal Injury Protection coverage was denied by the vehicle owner’s insurance policy, citing the unlicensed driver exclusion.

Parts Of The Unlicensed Driver Exclusion Are Invalid In Pennsylvania

The appeals court found the unlicensed driver exclusion conflicts with Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility (MVFR) law. Since the exclusion conflicts with PA law requiring first-party medical benefits, the court upheld that part of the exclusion is invalid. In this situation, insurance cannot deny PIP coverage for an unlicensed driver.

MVFR laws require first-party medical benefits coverage unless the driver is intentionally trying to harm themselves or others, is attempting to elude police, or is in the act of committing a felony. The appeals court ruled only the exclusions identified in the statute itself can be used to deny first-party medical coverage.

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When To Talk To An Attorney

Being an unlicensed driver doesn’t necessarily exclude you from coverage for your medical treatment in Pennsylvania. Talk to an attorney at Kane & Silverman for help with your claim. Depending on the details of your situation, our experienced injury attorneys may be able to help you. Contact us today for a free consultation with a Pennsylvania injury attorney.