Burien – White Center Personal Injury Attorney reminds readers: Check your auto policy for “PIP” or Med-Pay Personal Injury Protection.
Auto insurance can be a difficult field to understand, especially since it seems to have a language of its own. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, this blog explains why PIP or Med Pay insurance is absolutely essential as part of your car insurance policy. Often overlooked in the common goal of finding the lowest insurance rates, PIP and Med-Pay play an important role if you are involved in a serious car accident.
This is especially true in the (hopefully) final days of the COVID-19 era when many of us are trying to save money and “pinch pennies” in hopes of weathering the storm. economic impact of COVID-19.
There are a number of reasons why a person would not be covered by personal injury protection or Med-Pay coverage. More often than not, it’s a cost. In the “click and select laptop world” we live in, a person may forget to check the correct box on their insurance application, forfeiting this important coverage. A knowledgeable and experienced insurance agent can help you with this process and ensure that this does not happen.
Respected Burien All State agent Charlie Brown notes, “It is absolutely essential that policyholders have either PIP or Med-Pay. I recommend these options to all my clients.
PIP can cost as little as fifty dollars per month up to a few hundred dollars per month. This depends on the applicant’s age, the make and model of the applicant’s vehicle, and the amount of coverage requested. It may not be the cheapest coverage on your car insurance policy, but it is essential for adequate protection.
What does PIP mean?
PIP is an acronym that stands for Personal Injury Protection. Sometimes it is called “Med-Pay”. This is a type of coverage that can be added to your car insurance and is intended to cover your medical expenses in the event of an accident. In some cases, PIP insurance can even cover lost wages if your accident left you unable to work for a period of time.
PIP benefits are limited to the driver and passengers of the insured vehicle. The injured person consults his own insurance policy or the policy of the vehicle in which he was a passenger for PIP or Med-Pay benefits. The exception to this general rule applies to pedestrians and cyclists. In Washington, pedestrians and cyclists may be covered for PIP benefits from the car that strikes and injures them.
In Washington State, your auto insurance policy’s Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage pays for medical expenses related to a car accident, regardless of fault, and reimburses you immediately. If you are injured by another driver, you must first settle the full amount of the loss with the other insurance company before being reimbursed for medical expenses. It often takes a few months and sometimes years after a car accident for all medical issues to be resolved. In the meantime, you are responsible for any medical bills that may accrue. PIP immediately pays, up to the coverage limit, all medical bills related to a car accident.
This is especially the case in the era of COVID-19 insofar as there is anecdotal evidence in my practice that insurance companies recognize the economic hardships of COVID-19 that claimants are going through and are adapting their settlement offers. at a lower than normal level in the hope of obtaining “discounted” settlements from plaintiffs.
What is Med Pay coverage?
Med Pay is generally similar to PIP coverage but much less comprehensive. It covers the policyholder, other drivers registered in the contract, members of the insured’s household and passengers in the event of an accident. Unlike PIP coverage, Med Pay only covers direct medical or surgical care related to physical injuries resulting from an automobile accident. Med Pay can help you pay:
- Medical fees
- Hospitalization costs
- Dental care
- Funeral expenses
Med Pay will not help pay for things like psychiatric treatment, child care, lost wages, or losses for surviving dependents or convalescent care.
Med Pay can also supplement your standard health insurance after an accident. In some situations, this can help pay for your health insurance plan deductible, as well as other medical expenses not covered by your health insurance plan.
Med Pay has no deductible or co-pay, unlike most health insurance plans. Plus, with Med Pay, you’re covered if you’re injured as a car passenger, on public transportation, or by a driver while you walk or ride a bike.
Am I required by the State of Washington to have PIP insurance?
The short answer is no. Many people opt out of PIP insurance or don’t even consider doing so because they are trying to keep their insurance payments as low as possible. Washington State RCW 48.22.100 lists limits on what must be offered by your insurance company, but drivers are free to deny coverage or seek lower limits. Insured persons may withdraw from PIP coverage in writing. If the insurance provider does not obtain a written opt-out from the policyholder, then they must add coverage to the insurance policy.
In Washington State, PIP coverage must, at a minimum, provide the following benefits:
- Up to $10,000 for medical expenses for each person injured in a car accident.
- Up to $200 per week for lost wages (income replacement coverage).
- Up to $2,000 for funeral expenses.
- Up to $5,000 for lost services (paying others for work you can’t do, like cleaning and yard work).
Washington state law only requires liability insurance, which pays damages to the other party if you are at fault in an accident. Other states, including Florida, New York, and New Jersey, require PIP coverage as part of your insurance policy. If you are financing a vehicle, your lender may require you to purchase a more extensive insurance policy, which could include PIP coverage.
To find out if you currently have PIP or Med Pay coverage, contact your insurance agent and inquire about your policy details, or visit your policy website online and check your coverage details. Look for the section titled “Declarations Page”.
Why is PIP insurance important?
Although liability insurance is required by law, the cruel fact is that very many people drive illegally and are not covered by the necessary liability insurance. If one of these people injures you and your family, you might be out of luck because there won’t be an insurance company to pay your medical bills. There is insurance known as UIM, or Uninsured Motorist Coverage, but that’s a subject for another article.
Another reality to keep in mind is that many people have the simplest policy possible because they are trying to keep their monthly bills low. The cost of medical care may extend beyond the limits of their insurance coverage, and you will then be responsible for the rest, even if you are not at fault for the accident.
Don’t assume that just because you’re a great driver doesn’t mean you’ll never be at fault in a traffic accident. If this happens and you are injured, your PIP insurance will pay your medical bills, regardless of fault. In addition to paying your immediate medical bills, PIP insurance can also help pay for details such as transportation to and from your medical care and home health care, which may be needed if you or your loved one are critically hurt.
Should I get PIP or Med Pay insurance?
The short answer is absolutely YES. If your policy does not currently include PIP or Med Pay coverage, my office strongly encourages you to add this important provision. Yes, you’ll pay a little more per month for your coverage, but in the event of a serious accident, you won’t have to worry about how to pay your medical bills. Additionally, many health care providers will not provide health care unless there is PIP or Med Pay insurance or other “first party” insurance available.
My office has represented many drivers who have been seriously injured through no fault of their own and then found themselves inundated with unexpected medical bills and no way to pay them. Or they can’t get the medical care they need because they can’t find a health care provider who would treat them without “First Party” insurance.
Burien’s attorney, W. Tracy Codd, has represented people involved in serious auto accidents since 1987. Call for a free consultation.
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