02-09-2021 Personal Injury Protection
Personal Injury Protection (or PIP) coverage is one of the most useful coverages after a car crash. PIP insurance protects you by paying for your medical bills if you are injured by a car. It does not matter who causes the crash, even if it is your fault you will be protected. Coverage may apply even if you are not in your car, if you are a pedestrian hit by a car, or riding in an Uber, or on the bus. If a car is involved PIP coverage will protect you.
PIP's primary purpose is to pay your medical bills after an injury. Unlike health insurance there are no co-pays, no deductibles and few restrictions on the type of treatment you can get. PIP does not have limits on the number of physical therapy or chiropractors visits. It will also pay the full amount billed, so your doctor will be happy too.
Medical coverage typically comes in two denominations: $10,000 and $35,000 of coverage. Even $10,000 can make a big difference after a car crash. If you have neck or back injuries the primary treatment methods are physical therapy, massage and chiropractic care. Most health insurance policies will cover only 12 visits per year. This is usually not enough after a car crash. Most of my client have substantially more visits. If you are stuck paying out of pocket it will make it that much harder to get the treatment you need.
Many people make the mistake of thinking that the at fault driver's insurance coverage will pay for their medical bills. But this isn't quite how it works. The at fault driver's insurance will eventually, but not up front. They will only make one payment at the very end of your case and will want you to sign a release that prevents you from collecting any more money. This means you usually need to finish your treatment first and then collect from the other driver. While you are treating those bills will be your responsibility. You can read my article on subrogation for more information on why it is better for insurance to pay your bills up front.
But PIP will also do more than pay your medical bills. It will also provide limited wage loss coverage. PIP usually only pays $200 per week and only if you have been off work for at least 14 days. But if you are missing work, it is better than nothing. PIP will pay for extra services - maybe you need to hire a maid because your injury makes it hard to clean the house. In the unfortunate case of death PIP will provide death and funeral benefits should they be necessary.
PIP is one of the most versatile coverages available. It is usually relatively inexpensive - I pay about $50 a year. Your insurance company is legally required to offer you PIP coverage. Make sure you think carefully about this choice.