Personal injury insurance or personal injury protection (PIP) is an additional coverage that you can add to your car insurance. Personal injury protection coverage pays for your medical expenses, lost wages, and other costs you may have if you are injured in a car accident. It also covers any passengers in your vehicle at the time of the accident.
PIP is what is known as “no fault” coverage. This means that you claim it regardless of who was at fault in an accident, you or another driver.
What Does PIP Cover?
The specific terms of your PIP coverage will be determined by your insurance company and will be listed in detail in your insurance policy. Some costs that PIP often covers include:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Child care in the event that your injuries prevent you from caring for your children as you normally would
- Funeral and burial costs in the event that you or one of your passengers dies as a result of the accident.
- Other expenses incurred as a direct result of the accident.
Be sure to clarify with your insurance agent or insurance company exactly what is covered under your PIP insurance.
Is PIP Required in Virginia?
Drivers in Virginia are required to carry what the state considers minimum acceptable car insurance coverage; however, there is no requirement that personal injury protection coverage be included in your policy.
Some states are known as “no fault” states, meaning that fault for a car accident is not considered for the purposes of insurance claims. In these states, PIP coverage is usually required, since each driver will generally make a claim only with their own insurance company.
Virginia is not a no fault state, meaning that expenses for an accident are usually paid by the insurance company of the driver who caused the accident. Therefore, PIP coverage is not required.
Should I Purchase PIP Coverage?
Even though it is not required by Virginia law, there are advantages to having PIP coverage. You may choose to purchase this coverage as an addition to your car insurance policy to feel more secure that your financial security will be protected in the event of an accident.
There are two types of coverage drivers are required to purchase under Virginia law: liability coverage and uninsured motorist coverage.
Liability coverage pays for property damage and injuries to the other driver (and any passengers) if you are the one at fault for an accident. Liability coverage does not pay for your damages or injuries.
Uninsured motorist coverage will pay for your damages and injuries, but only if you are involved in a crash with a driver who does not have insurance andthat driver is at fault for the accident.
This means that if you purchase only the minimum insurance required by law, your insurance company will not pay for your damages or injuries in the event that you are the one at fault for an accident. Obviously, no one intends to cause a car accident that could injure themselves and others, but it happens all too often. If you are ever in this situation, the last thing you will want to deal with is repair costs and medical bills that you can’t pay. This is where PIP coverage can help you.
What About My Health Insurance?
You may be wondering why you need PIP coverage if you have health insurance. Won’t your health insurance pay for your care if you are injured in a car accident?
Generally speaking, yes, your health insurance will pay for care related to your injuries in a car accident. However, there are still potential advantages to purchasing PIP coverage.
- Deductibles: Your health insurance plan may have a very high deductible, meaning that you will need to pay that full amount out of pocket before your health coverage kicks in. Your PIP coverage may have no deductible or may have a much lower deductible, meaning you will need to pay less out of pocket for your care.
- Lost wages: If you miss time at work due to your injuries, you may have a claim for lost wages. Health insurance plans only cover your actual medical care, not any other costs that may arise from your injuries. PIP coverage does apply to lost wages as well as medical costs.
- Passengers: PIP coverage also applies to any passengers in your car involved in an accident. In the event that you are at fault for an accident, you could be liable for your passengers’ medical expenses. PIP coverage protects you from bearing the brunt of these expenses as well.
Do I Have PIP Coverage?
You may already have PIP coverage on your current car insurance policy. Check your policy’s declarations page, which should be near the beginning of the policy documents. You can also contact your insurance agent or call the customer service department of your insurance company directly. They will be able to clarify the terms of your policy and can help you add coverage if you need to.
How Is PIP Coverage Paid?
PIP coverage typically is available to you right away once you make your claim. Your doctor’s office or the hospital should bill the insurance company directly for your care, so you should not need to pay anything out of pocket. Since PIP coverage is “no fault” coverage, you don’t need to wait for the insurance companies to determine fault for the accident in order to use it. After an accident, be sure to check with your insurance adjuster about any requirements for using your PIP coverage, such as pre-approval from the insurance company.
In some cases, your insurance company may seek reimbursement for PIP benefits paid to you. This usually happens if someone else is at fault for the accident and you receive a settlement from the other insurance company. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s a good idea to contact an experienced attorney to make sure you aren’t taken advantage of during a difficult time.
If you have been injured in a car accident, the experienced Richmond personal injury attorneys at Geoff McDonald and Associates can help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us through our website, or call us at (866) 369-9051 for a free consultation.