Guide to Personal Injury Protection (PIP) 
With over 2 million people injured each year in motor vehicle crashes, every driver needs to prepare themselves for the possibility of an automobile accident. Besides the collision itself, one of the worst parts of these incidents is the financial burden they can bring. Car accidents can be costly, whether it's injuries to yourself, your passengers, or the wages you lose by missing work. However, there are ways to mitigate these costs; one of the best ways to do so is with personal injury protection or PIP insurance.
What is Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Insurance?
Typically, personal injury protection is commonly referred to as "no-fault insurance". It is a policy designed to cover medical expenses and other costs related to an automobile accident, regardless of who was at fault. This type of insurance policy will protect the driver of a vehicle and any passengers they have in the car at the time of the accident. PIP coverage can be beneficial for those that don't have health insurance and can even cover the expenses that exceed your health insurance limits.
Personal injury protection coverage is required in 12 states, primarily those in "no-fault" states where a policy pays out for medical care no matter who was at fault during an accident. PIP insurance is particularly helpful in cases where a driver is uninsured or underinsured, which can make the already complex process of collecting from a claim nearly impossible.
What Does PIP Auto Insurance Cover?
The actual expenses that PIP insurance will cover depend on what level of policy you pay for, what insurance company you go through, and the exact agreement you make with your insurer. For the most part, personal injury protection insured may cover the following costs:
- Any wages lost due to injury. If the injuries you or your passengers suffer from an accident make it difficult or impossible to work, PIP insurance may reimburse you.
- Medical expenses as a result of the crash. If you need to visit the hospital or doctors, PIP insurance may pay your copay, deductible, or the total cost of your bills.
- If you are disabled due to your accident or require any rehabilitation services, PIP car insurance may cover the costs.
- If the accident does result in you being disabled, PIP coverage will even cover house maintenance, garden work, and childcare costs in some cases.
- If a death occurs, PIP coverage may also pay out a death benefit to your family.
On the other hand, PIP insurance will rarely, if ever, cover the following:
- Any property damage, whether the policyholder's property or someone else's.
- Damage to your vehicle as a result of an accident.
- Damage to your vehicle from the environment, including extreme weather or animals.
- Any repairs you need as a result of theft or vandalism.
What's the Difference Between Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and Medical Payment Auto Insurance (MedPay)?
PIP coverage and medical payment insurance have a number of similarities, mainly in that they cover expenses related to accident-related injuries. Like liability insurance, both PIP and MedPay are required in some states, especially "no-fault" states. The difference between the two lies mainly in the actual costs that they cover.
While PIP insurance will cover wages lost due to an accident, medical payment auto insurance (in most cases) will not. MedPay, for the most part, won't cover any expenses besides medical costs after an accident; this means no home maintenance or childcare costs, and in some cases, no coverage for rehabilitation. This gives a considerable advantage to drivers who choose personal injury protection, which offers a better range of benefits.
Personal Injury Protection vs. Liability Insurance:
What's the Difference?
Because both are required in some states, drivers often get confused by the coverage of these two distinct policy types. While liability insurance can cover medical expenses, it only does so for the non-policyholder (when the policyholder is at-fault.) Liability insurance also provides coverage for damage to the other driver's vehicle, which personal injury protection won't do. PIP insurance is also required in far fewer states, with only 12 states requiring the coverage. Liability insurance, on the other hand, is required in almost every state, with the exception of Florida. You'll most likely need both of these insurance types to drive legally.
How much you pay for these insurance types can also be determined by your vehicle's history. You can find these details with a free tool like a vehicle history report. You may also want to check your credit and the number of points on your license. Insurers will look at these and other aspects of your automotive history when deciding how much you'll pay in monthly premiums (or whether they are willing to insure your vehicle at all.)
How is Personal Injury Protection Different from Bodily Injury Liability?
Another type of insurance that PIP coverage gets mixed up with is bodily injury liability. The main difference between the two insurance types is that bodily injury liability covers medical expenses to other drivers. Bodily injury liability can also cover your legal costs if you are sued due to the accident. This insurance type is often a portion of your liability car insurance and may not need to be acquired as a separate policy. So while personal injury protection is meant to help cover your medical expenses, bodily injury liability is designed to cover the other driver's medical expenses.
Should You Get Personal Injury Protection?
Unless you are in a state that has laws relating directly to personal injury protection, whether you get PIP is entirely up to you. As of 2022, 12 states require drivers to have personal injury protection insurance. These states include:
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Dakota
Even in states that don't require it, getting PIP insurance can still be an excellent financial choice. For people without health insurance, PIP can dramatically reduce the costs associated with an accident. If you do have insurance, personal injury protection can help cover your deductible. It can also help you with expenses that regular health or auto insurance wouldn't cover, like lost wages, childcare costs, and household maintenance.
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