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Trying to find the right car insurance policy and determine how much coverage you need is a daunting task. It gets even more complicated when you realize that there are different subsets of auto insurance, like collision, liability, gap insurance, and more. 

One of these specialized types of insurance is personal injury protection, or PIP, insurance. It's sometimes referred to as "no-fault" insurance, and it deals with injuries sustained during a car crash. It's mandatory in some states, but not everywhere, which means it may be a new concept for many people. You have questions, and we have answers. Let's dive in.

What Is Personal Injury Protection Insurance?

PIP insurance falls under the wider umbrella of auto insurance. PIP stands for personal injury protection, and it covers medical expenses – possibly including work-loss coverage – for you and your passengers after a collision. PIP also covers you if you're in a crash while riding in another vehicle, or if a car strikes you when not in a vehicle (i.e. riding a bicycle or walking).  

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PIP may cover some of the same things as your health insurance or your medical payments coverage, if you have it. But PIP insurance is designed with automotive collisions in mind, so it covers injuries that regular health insurance may not. It also covers expenses that medical payments coverage won't.

PIP insurance is not the same as bodily injury liability insurance. PIP covers you and any other passengers in your vehicle, while bodily injury liability insurance covers occupants of other vehicles in the event that you are at fault in a collision.  

What Does Personal Injury Protection Insurance Cover?

Personal injury protection insurance covers the policyholder, passengers in their vehicle, their family members within the same household, and other people driving the policyholder's vehicle with permission. If you are a pedestrian or a cyclist struck by a vehicle, or if you're riding in somebody else's vehicle and are in a crash, your PIP insurance may also cover you.

The specific expenses covered by PIP will vary from state to state and plan to plan. However, in general, PIP covers any necessary medical procedures and associated reasonable expenses relating to injuries sustained during a collision. Covered expenses may include:

  • Ambulance charges
  • Hospitalization costs
  • Necessary medical procedures, including surgeries and operations
  • Physical therapy or rehabilitation
  • Ongoing professional care
  • Lost wages, if you are forced to stop working for a time
  • Death benefits and/or funeral costs
  • Expenses for duties you may be unable to fulfill, such as house cleaning and child care

It's worth noting that PIP insurance is no-fault coverage, meaning that your expenses will be covered (for as much as the plan allows) regardless of who is responsible for the collision.

What Doesn't Personal Injury Protection Insurance Cover?

As the name suggests, personal injury protection insurance is designed to cover expenses relating to injuries suffered in a car crash. Unfortunately, in most states, it doesn't cover much beyond people's injuries. That means that any required car repairs will not fall under PIP coverage. 

For vehicle damage expenses, you'd need to file a claim through the insurance company of the driver who's at fault. If you're at fault and you need repairs to your own vehicle, you'd need to file through your collision policy. If the other driver is at fault, the damages to your vehicle would generally be covered by their liability coverage. In some cases in no-fault states, you would still be covered by your insurance even if the other driver caused the collision.

How Much Is Personal Injury Protection Insurance?

As with any insurance, the costs of personal injury protection coverage will vary according to a number of factors. These include where you live, your driving record, your age, what you drive, how much coverage you want or need, and how high you're willing to make your deductible. 

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With so many variables, the simplest way to get a feel for how much PIP insurance would cost is to get a quote from your insurer (and possibly others that service your area).

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Is Personal Injury Protection Insurance Required?

The short answer is "it depends on where you live." PIP is sometimes referred to as "no-fault insurance" because it will cover your expenses regardless of who's at fault for the collision. In no-fault states, drivers are often required to carry PIP insurance.

No-fault states are referred to as such because in these states, your insurance covers all expenses related to the auto collision – regardless of which driver is at fault – until a certain monetary threshold is met. The threshold varies from state to state, but it's essentially the minimum amount you'll have to pay toward medical expenses before you're eligible to take legal action against another driver.

As of this writing, there are 14 no-fault jurisdictions in the US: the District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Utah, and Puerto Rico. All of these places require some form of PIP insurance. However, a handful of other states also require PIP coverage, including Arkansas, Delaware, Maryland, and Oregon.

Should I Have Personal Injury Protection Insurance?

If you're in a state that requires PIP insurance, then yes, you should absolutely have it. But what if you live in a state that doesn't require PIP coverage? Then you should weigh the following factors before making your decision:

  • How robust is your car insurance? PIP coverage is designed to supplement your car insurance and ensure that you and your passengers are protected in the event of a collision. If you already have a hefty insurance policy with plenty of injury liability coverage, PIP may be redundant.
  • What kind of health insurance do you have? If you don't have PIP coverage, it's possible that injuries suffered in a car crash will be covered by your health insurance. That may or may not be something you want, depending on the specifics of your health insurance policy.
  • How often do you travel with passengers? PIP insurance will cover all of the occupants in your vehicle following a collision. Without it, passengers may be able to hold you responsible for their injuries should you be involved in a crash.
  • What's your risk tolerance? This is the key question regarding any insurance discussion. While you certainly hope to never be in a car crash, the reality is that they happen, and they can be costly. Furthermore, there's no guarantee the other driver (if they're at fault) will have enough coverage to pay for your damage. In such situations, having PIP coverage can be extremely beneficial.

Further Reading

To learn more about various types of car insurance and get help with finding the right plan or figuring out how much coverage you need, you can check out the following resources:

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