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What Is Personal Injury Protection?

Last updated: November 19, 2023

The road can be dangerous, and there's always the chance of getting into a car accident. If you suffer from injuries or disabilities from accidents on the road, personal injury protection can help you with medical expenses and other types of damages.

To understand personal injury protection coverage more, find out what is personal injury protection in a nutshell, what and who it covers, why it is necessary for those with car insurance, and more.

What Is Personal Injury Protection In Car Insurance?

What Is Personal Injury Protection In Car Insurance

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 2,740,000 people were injured in 6.7 million car accidents in 2019. Regardless of who is at fault, drivers and vehicle owners must look for ways to protect themselves, their passengers, and the people on the road — especially since medical costs and disability expenses are rising.

One of the ways you could consider is adding personal injury protection (PIP) to your car insurance coverage.

PIP is an extension of car insurance that covers medical expenses and, in some cases, lost wages and other damages. PIP insurance is sometimes known as no-fault insurance because it pays benefits regardless of who caused the accident. With it, policyholders, their lawyers, and the people involved can simplify the process of finding out who is responsible for paying for everything.

Depending on your state, PIP coverage may be required in your insurance policy. In other states, it is still available as an option, but it may not be required.

What Does Personal Injury Protection Cover?

Personal injury protection mainly covers medical expenses, regardless if you are or are not at fault for a car accident. Your PIP policy can help you pay for the following expenses:

  • Medical Expenses – You can use your PIP coverage to pay for medical and surgical treatment, rehabilitation expenses, dental and optometric costs, prosthetic devices for a disability, medication, medical supplies, hospital bills, ambulance services, and other similar costs.
  • Funeral Expenses – Should the accident result in death, PIP can pay for the funeral, burial, or cremation expenses. 
  • Essential Services – If an auto accident resulted in a disability, personal injury protection could help pay for services that the person can no longer do due to the damage. Some of these expenses may include professional house cleaning or childcare services.
  • Cost Of Loss Of Work – Whether you sustain temporary or permanent injuries, the physical damage can lead you to miss out on work. The PIP coverage can help you supplement income you have lost from your job. If you are self-employed or own a business, you may use your PIP payment to hire temporary workers that can perform tasks on your behalf.
  • Survivor's Loss – If the policyholder passes away in an auto accident, PIP insurance can pay for the lost income for the benefit of the family member or dependent.

Though you receive coverage for these types of expenses, you should also note that your policy may require a deductible, defined as the amount you must pay to the insurer to cover the cost of the claim. In most cases, the insurance company will automatically take the deductible from your claim payout.

Who Is Covered On Personal Injury Protection Insurance?

In PIP, the coverage is given to the policyholder and their family members. It also extends to the car's driver, who gained permission from the vehicle owner and passengers. Your PIP policy will still cover you if you suffer from an injury as a passenger in someone's car, a pedestrian, or a cyclist.

What Is Not Covered By Personal Injury Protection Insurance?

PIP limits its coverage to bills and payments related to personal injuries. It will not cover damages involving the following:

  • Vehicle Theft – PIP insurance does not cover the cost in the case of vehicle theft. For this concern, you should add comprehensive coverage to your car insurance policy to help you pay for and replace your car.
  • Vehicle Damage – Accidents commonly lead to significant damage to a vehicle. However, this issue does not extend to PIP policies. Instead, it would be best to talk to your agent about adding collision coverage that will pay for car repairs if it is impacted by a crash caused by another vehicle.
  • Property Damage – If the car accident leads to damaging another person's property, you will not be able to pay for it with your PIP. These concerns can be handled through property damage liability coverage, but only if you inflicted the damage.

What States Require Personal Injury Protection?

Across the United States, state car insurance requirements can vary widely. To help you understand your responsibilities, here is a quick guide on state requirements:

No-Fault States

Some states have no-fault insurance laws. In these states, every driver must file a claim with insurers after a vehicular accident — even if it is not their fault. Their auto policies must have PIP, as it is a requirement by law.

The states that have this requirement are:

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

At-Fault States With Personal Injury Protection Requirement

In at-fault states, responsibility is not imposed quickly on anyone. Instead, there will be an investigation to identify who caused the incident. Once proven, the party at fault is responsible for paying for bodily injuries.

The states with these rules are:

  • Arkansas
  • Delaware
  • Maryland
  • Oregon

At-Fault States With Optional Personal Injury Protection

In some cases, states require liability insurance, but PIP is optional. These states are:

  • District of Columbia
  • New Hampshire
  • South Dakota
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • Washington

How Does Personal Injury Protection Work?

What Is Personal Injury Protection Insurance

For personal injury protection claims, car insurers will handle payments for the medical bills related to an accident. Depending on the limits of the coverage, they will reimburse some or all of the policyholder's lost income. In some states, there is a two-part medical bill limit, which means that some of the medical bills will be partly covered by health insurance.

Should the overall financial impact of the injuries sustained from the accident be higher than the PIP coverage limits, options are available for you. First, you can file a third-party insurance claim with the insurance company of the driver at fault. Second, you can contact a lawyer and file a personal injury lawsuit against them.

However, you can't go to court and file a case if you live in a no-fault state. The only exceptions are if you meet the statutory definitions set by your state on the severity of injuries or if your medical expenses reach a specific amount.

You may also consider contacting the driver at fault and asking them for a settlement regarding your out-of-pocket losses. For instance, you can work on receiving compensation for non-economic losses like pain and suffering.

How Do You File A Personal Injury Protection Insurance Claim?

Personal injury protection claims work similarly to any other insurance claim.

First, you need to call your car insurance provider to inform them about the accident. In this discussion, the company representative will instruct you on how to get your PIP claim process started. You may do it with them over the phone, or they may direct you to the insurance app or website to fill out forms.

Once the process starts, you may be required to submit documents like proof of loss of income, medical bills, and other receipts. The company will compensate you for the losses incurred based on this information.

For smoother transactions and better chances of receiving your compensation, make sure to always respond to requests in a timely manner. If you are asked to provide information, make sure that you are truthful, especially regarding the injuries and disabilities you experienced from the accident.

How To Select The Right Amount Of Personal Injury Protection Coverage

If you are ready to obtain PIP coverage for your security on the road, here are some tips that can help you decide on the details of your policy:

Look At Your Health Insurance Policy

Before you decide on the extent of your coverage, look at the details of your health insurance policy, especially your health insurance deductible. If it is excellent, but your state requires PIP, having the lowest coverage is more than enough. Doing this strategy will lead to more savings while ensuring you are well-covered. 

Think About Your Lost Wages

If your job requires physical presence and manual labor, recovering from an accident can make you lose your job and take out a good chunk of your income. To avoid problems like this in the case of an auto accident, you must consider your wage in setting the limits of your PIP coverage.

Check Which Insurance Type Pays First

In most cases, PIP comes before medical insurance in handling auto accident claims. This means the payout will first be taken from your PIP coverage, and if there are expenses left, this will be covered by your health insurance.

Frequently Asked Questions

Learn more about personal injury protection insurance by looking at the answers to the most frequently asked questions about it.

Do you need personal injury insurance if you have health insurance?

Even if you and your household have health insurance policies with excellent benefits for accidents, having personal injury coverage still helps protect your life. You may choose the lowest legally required limit in your state, but you can also request specific limits to meet your needs.

Ultimately, you can look at the usual financial impact of a car accident and request a quote from various providers to help you decide.

Is personal injury insurance different from bodily injury liability insurance?

Personal injury insurance helps pay for your own medical expenses, regardless of who is the cause of the accident.

On the other hand, bodily injury liability insurance will cover the medical costs for someone else when you're at fault for their injuries. This coverage will also help you cover legal defense fees for lawsuits if you are sued for damages from the accident.

Should a person get medical payment coverage on top of personal injury insurance?

Medical payments coverage, also known as MedPay, offers a similar form of protection as PIP. However, PIP has better coverage because it will also cover wage losses and replacement services, which MedPay does not. Also, MedPay usually costs less because it caters to only one component of personal injury insurance.

Get Personal Injury Protection Today

Personal injury protection is an essential component of auto insurance, especially with the risks you face every time you are out on the road. Even if it is optional in your state, it's worth considering if you seek maximum protection to minimize the risk of losses you might encounter in an accident. You can consult insurance agents to learn more about it, especially for detailed explanations of the claim process and premiums.

If you want to learn more about disability assistance, especially your rights, benefits, and other essential resources, explore this Disability Help article today!

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Zoey Appleton
Zoey has worked with Cheri for years and has been creating the best articles not only for Disability Help but for our readers. Her job hits close to home for she has a brother with special needs. She hopes to see science and technology pave the way for a better life, with Disability Help to cover it and share it with those that need it.
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