Personal Injury Protection

Standard car insurance policies cover medical expenses if you or your passengers are injured in a car accident. Usually, the insurance of the person who causes the accident is the one who has to pay. With personal injury protection, it’s slightly different. 

What is PIP insurance?

Personal injury protection (PIP) automatically covers your injuries after an accident, regardless of who is at-fault. It’s sold as an add-on to your auto insurance policy and is sometimes called no-fault car insurance or first party benefits coverage. In addition to medical expenses, PIP provides reimbursement for lost wages, essential services like child care and funeral expenses.

If you live in a no-fault state, you will be required to carry PIP insurance. You can check with your state’s department of insurance or an insurance company to find out what the PIP requirements are for your state. A PIP policy might overlap with your health insurance, so review your coverages before buying a policy. 

How does PIP insurance work? 

Personal injury protection works similarly to other car insurance claims. If you get into an accident and you or a passenger is injured, you’ll want to seek medical treatment as soon as possible. Even if you aren’t seriously injured, you still need proof of evaluation and treatment from a doctor.

Once you obtain your medical records, you’ll submit a claim to your insurance company. It doesn’t matter if you caused the accident or another driver hit you. You will be asked to provide your medical records and explain the accident in detail.

After your claim is approved, you’ll get reimbursed from the insurance company to cover your medical expenses. Like other forms of liability coverage, you’ll still have to pay a deductible. Your policy also has a coverage limit, which is the highest amount of money the insurance company will pay toward a covered claim. 

What and who does PIP insurance cover? 

PIP insurance only covers physical injuries to a driver and their passengers at the time of an accident. It doesn’t cover any damages that your vehicle sustains after a crash. That’s what your collision and comprehensive coverage is for.

It’s also important to note that PIP does not cover the other driver in an accident whether you’re at-fault or not. All drivers living in a no-fault state are required to have PIP insurance, so the other driver’s PIP insurance will cover them. 

PIP insurance covers a list of standard things, but drivers have the option to purchase additional protection if they want more coverage. Here is what PIP insurance covers:

  • Medical bills: PIP covers a driver and the passenger’s medical expenses that the insurance company deems reasonable or necessary.
  • Surgery: If you get into an accident and need surgery for a broken arm, PIP insurance will cover it.
  • X-rays and prescriptions: PIP insurance would cover any needed x-rays and post-op medication.
  • Dental care and optometry services: If you chipped a tooth or experienced vision changes due to an accident, it would be covered.
  • Prosthetic devices: If you get into an accident and need your arm amputated, insurance would cover a prosthetic.
  • Emergency care and ambulance: If you need to be taken to the hospital in an ambulance from the scene of an accident, it’s covered.
  • Therapy, rehabilitation, and remedial care: If you need physical therapy after your am surgery, it’s covered by PIP insurance.
  • Psychiatric and psychological care: If you have mental health challenges following an accident, it would be covered.
  • Speech and audiological services: If you sustained an ear or jaw injury after an accident, insurance would cover therapy.
  • Lost wages: If you need major surgery after an accident and have to take time off from work, insurance would cover your lost wages.
  • Death benefits: If a passenger in your vehicle is killed in an accident, insurance would pay death benefits to their survivors.
  • Funeral expenses: The survivors of the passenger killed in the accident would get help paying for the funeral with insurance money.

Remember the basics

PIP insurance is simple. After an accident, it will cover your injuries or your passenger’s injuries, regardless of which driver caused the accident. Most injuries that are serious enough for medical care will be covered, but you need to visit a doctor before you can file a claim.

What doesn’t PIP insurance cover?

Personal injury protection insurance does not cover damages to your vehicle or to the other driver’s vehicle. It also does not cover property damage. If another driver damages your property—for instance, they hit your mailbox—their personal damage liability coverage would pay for it. If you damage someone else’s property, your collision or comprehensive insurance will cover it.

There are a few other situations that are not covered by PIP insurance. Most notably, PIP insurance will not cover you if the car is being used for ridesharing when an accident occurs. You’re also not eligible for coverage if you were engaging in criminal activity at the time of the accident, or if you intentionally caused an accident and it resulted in injuries.

Is PIP insurance required? 

PIP insurance is legally required for drivers in no-fault states. In no-fault states, the insurance company will pay for your injuries, regardless of who is at-fault. Every state has a different minimum amount of PIP insurance they require, so check with your state to determine how much coverage you need. Below is a list of the no-fault states:

  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Pennsylvania
  • Puerto Rico
  • Utah

If you live in a state that is not included on the list above, you live in an at-fault state. In at-fault states, the driver who causes an accident is responsible for paying for the other driver’s injuries through their insurance. These drivers are not required to have PIP insurance.

The takeaway

If you live in a no-fault state, you’re required to carry a minimum amount of PIP insurance. Without proper coverage, your insurance company will likely deny your claim. 

If you or a passenger gets hurt after an accident, visit a doctor as soon as possible to get evaluated and treated. Use your medical records to submit a claim and get reimbursed by the insurance company. Besides medical expenses, the insurance company will also cover lost wages and essentials like laundry and child care while you’re recovering.

Remember that PIP insurance only covers physical injuries. If your car is damaged or totaled, other parts of your car insurance will cover it. Before purchasing a PIP policy, review your health insurance plan to see what’s covered, and make sure you’re not doubling up on coverage that could be costly.