How does Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Work?
Personal injury protection or PIP insurance provides coverage for medical expenses and lost wages among other liabilities depending on the scope of the policy. The least such an insurance policy provides is coverage for medical expenses incurred while treating an injury caused by an accident. In most cases, personal injury protection applies to car accidents. It is hence deemed as an extension of car insurance, albeit it is a separate policy. Personal injury protection should not be equated with medical payments insurance coverage. The two are similar but there are significant differences.
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Technicalities of Personal Injury Protection Insurance
Car insurance in general tries to pin the blame on one or more parties involved in an accident. The party at fault or the one who has caused the accident is liable to pay for medical expenses and other damages. Personal injury protection insurance does not require any establishing of guilt or fault. It pays for medical expenses for an individual regardless of who has caused the accident. This is the reason why PIP insurance is often referred to as no-fault coverage.
Personal injury protection is more comprehensive than medical payments coverage or normal car insurance. An insured person can get maximum benefits as allowed by the coverage. The coverage may be confined to medical expenses or it may also include lost wages. Some more extensive policies will cover additional expenses such as transportation to and from medical appointments and even repair of movable or immovable property. However, the latter increases the cost of such insurance exponentially.
It is imperative to have personal injury protection in thirteen states including Florida, D.C., Hawaii, Kentucky, Kansas, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Utah, Massachusetts, North Dakota, New Jersey and New York. PIP is available in many states but it is not mandatory to have such a policy, such as in Alaska, Arkansas, Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, California, Georgia, Connecticut, Illinois, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Maine, Missouri, Nebraska, Montana, New Hampshire, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Ohio, Rhode Island, Tennessee, South Carolina, Virginia, Texas, Virginia, Wyoming, Wisconsin and Washington among others.
The cost of personal injury protection varies from state to state, so does the nature and scope of coverage. Some states like Utah recognize acupuncture as a medical treatment and pays for it under the coverage provided by personal injury protection insurance. Some states like California do not accept such treatments as payable or coverable expense. PIP policies usually cover more than the immediate medical expenses, such as lost wages, which is primarily where it differs from medical payments coverage.
Benefits of PIP Insurance
PIP insurance works in a straightforward way. As an individual, you get insured and opt for the chosen coverage. Should you be involved in an accident and get hurt, your medical expenses are covered. Should you be unable to work then you will be able to claim lost wages. No fault has to be ascertained here so there is no compulsory involvement of law enforcement agencies including investigative processes. The expenses are being paid for by the insurer so there is no need to sue a fellow commuter or driver who may be at fault for causing the accident. There is always the scope to file a lawsuit against those at fault but one doesn’t need to wait for the damages to be paid to take care of their pressing medical expenses.
Maintain an Impeccable Record and Choose a Comprehensive Coverage
As is the case with any type of insurance, you should always opt for comprehensive coverage. You don’t want a scenario wherein your coverage falls short only because you wanted to save a few bucks in annual costs. It is perhaps needless to point out that an impeccable record is quintessential to get the best policy with the maximum coverage. Drivers who are frequently involved in accidents or have past cases of being at fault will have to pay more than those who have an absolutely unblemished history on the road.
Speak with an expert, ascertain your needs and assess your options. Do not choose personal injury protection insurance in haste. Study all the terms, do the math and pick one that will be the most beneficial for you at a crucial time.