Personal injury protection, or PIP, is auto insurance coverage that pays your medical bills and related expenses if you and/or your passengers are injured in a car accident. It’s often called no-fault insurance, because it kicks in regardless of whether you or another driver causes the accident. Here are key things to know about how PIP works.
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How does PIP work?
With personal injury protection, your car insurance covers the initial costs of treating injuries you and/or your passengers suffer in a traffic accident, as well as certain related expenses, up to your policy’s PIP limit.
The other expenses covered by PIP typically include:
- A portion of your lost income, if your injuries prevent you from working
- Essential services, such as housekeeping tasks that your injuries may prevent you from performing or childcare during follow-up physician visits
- Funeral expenses
The coverage kicks in regardless of whether you or another driver cause the accident. In many states, PIP may cover injuries to a pedestrian or bicyclist injured by your vehicle, too, also regardless of fault.
While PIP offers valuable benefits, here are the most common things it does not cover:
- Injuries to a driver or passengers in another vehicle
- Damage to your car or anyone else’s car or property
- Injuries you may suffer while driving a motorcycle or ATV
- Medical treatment costs that exceed your policy’s PIP limits
Which states have PIP insurance?
PIP insurance is available in 16 states and Washington, D.C. Among these areas, PIP is required in 11 and optional in six.
Most of the states that require PIP also have no-fault insurance laws, which restrict your ability to recoup your medical expenses from an at-fault driver who injures you in a car accident.
In no-fault insurance states, you can typically only sue an at-fault driver, or file a claim with their insurance company, if your medical costs, lost wages and related expenses exceed your policy’s PIP limit or are particularly severe.
Among no-fault insurance states, PIP limits range from $3,000 in Utah to $50,000 in New York. However, in Michigan, PIP provides unlimited coverage for “all reasonably necessary” medical treatment you may require.
In a few states, PIP-like coverages go by different names, such as Virginia’s optional “medical expense and loss of income benefits” insurance and Pennsylvania’s mandatory “medical benefits” coverage.
No-fault laws typically only apply to bodily injuries. In most no-fault states, you are still financially responsible for damage you cause to other people’s vehicles or property. One exception is Michigan, where no-fault coverage extends to vehicle damage.
Learn more about car insurance requirements and rates in your state.
How much does PIP cost?
If you live in a state where PIP is optional, you can expect PIP to add about 10% to the cost of your car insurance policy. For full-coverage car insurance, this adds up to $211 a year, or about $17 a month, on average.
|Annual rate without PIP
|Annual rate with PIP
|Note: Average rates are based on non-binding estimates provided by Quadrant Information Services. Your rates may vary.
Since the exact cost of PIP varies by insurance company, it’s best to compare quotes from multiple companies when you shop.
Do I need PIP if I have health insurance?
If you live in a state where PIP is optional, there are several reasons to consider adding it to your car insurance when you already have health insurance.
For starters, many health plans place limits on the amount of coverage they’ll provide for emergency room visits and hospitalizations. Meanwhile, the copayments most plans require can add up fast.
PIP, on the other hand, usually covers all eligible medical expenses up to your policy’s limit. In most states, PIP does not require you to pay a deductible or copayments, although PIP in Florida is offered with both.
PIP can also work in tandem with your health insurance to cover your share of medical costs not covered by your healthcare provider.
Another benefit of PIP has to do with the timing of your payments.
- For some car accidents, it can take weeks, or even months, to determine which party is at fault and whether your injuries should be covered by the other driver’s car insurance or your own health insurance.
- PIP can cover your initial medical bills while the insurance companies complete their investigations. This protects you from having to front these costs or risk late payments showing up on your credit report.
Finally, even if your health insurance covers car accident injuries in their entirety, PIP also covers your passengers, who may not all have a healthcare plan as good as yours.
PIP vs. medical payments coverage
Like PIP, medical payments coverage, or MedPay, typically also covers injuries you and/or your passengers suffer in a car accident as well as funeral expenses, regardless of fault. However, this is where the similarities between the two end.
The biggest difference between PIP and MedPay is that PIP also provides a lost income benefit and coverage for essential services.
MedPay is available in most states where PIP is not offered and in some where PIP is also available.
Among states where PIP and MedPay are both available, Florida is one of the few where it makes sense to consider both.
In Florida, standard PIP covers 80% of your medical costs and is often offered with a deductible. You can add MedPay to your policy to cover your PIP deductible and the 20% share of medical costs that PIP does not cover.
In most other states with both PIP and MedPay, you’re usually better off with just one of the two. If you already have short-term disability insurance and/or friends and family who can help out around the house if you’re injured, you may only need MedPay.
PIP vs. bodily injury liability
Although bodily injury liability insurance is also required in states where PIP is available, it’s important to understand the differences between these coverages and how they may work together.
In general, bodily injury liability covers medical treatment for those you injure in a car accident, and this can often include non-family passengers in your own car.
In states with traditional at-fault car insurance laws, you are generally responsible for injuries you cause in a car accident. In these states, bodily injury liability covers your financial responsibility for any injuries you cause.
If you cause an accident in a no-fault insurance state, your bodily injury liability typically covers any portions of other people’s medical bills that exceed their PIP limits. Your bodily injury liability also protects you in lawsuits stemming from injuries that are particularly severe.
Every no-fault insurance state except Florida requires drivers to also carry bodily injury liability, in addition to PIP. Bodily injury liability is also required in almost every state with traditional at-fault car accident laws.
Average costs of adding PIP to car insurance is based on quotes obtained from Quadrant Information Services for typical drivers in Arkansas, Texas and Washington state.
For purposes of our analysis, a typical driver is a 35-year-old male who drives a 2012 Honda LX an average of 13,500 miles a year. The driver’s base policy includes the following coverages and limits:
- Bodily injury liability: $100,000 per person/$300,000 per accident
- Property damage liability: $100,000
- Collision: $500 deductible
- Comprehensive: $500 deductible
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