Personal Injury Protection, or PIP as it is commonly known, is a part of your personal auto policy that provides you certain monetary benefits after you’ve been in an auto accident. Three major benefits of PIP are:
- It can help pay for medical bills,
- It can help with covering a portion of your lost wages, and
- It can pay for personal services you may need to be done in the event that your injuries keep you from being able to do essential household duties yourself.
Before we get into these benefits, it is important to know that you probably have PIP, whether you know it or not! PIP is such an important policy benefit that in the state of Washington, every auto policy sold automatically comes with PIP…it is standard. However, to save a few bucks you can opt-out of this coverage. The good news here is that proving the “opt-out” is on the insurance company. In other words, the insurance company has to come up with your signed waiver, and if they cannot produce the signed waiver, you get the PIP benefit!
So, what are these benefits that are so important?
First, PIP will pay for your medical expenses to treat injuries you suffered in the collision. From the ambulance trip to the ER to your primary care doctor, PIP will pay for it all. PIP will also pay for your therapy visits, regardless of what type of therapy you choose to do. This includes physical therapy, chiropractic, massage therapy, acupuncture, and just about any other health care therapy you choose as long as it is related to the injuries you suffered in the auto collision. And, unlike health insurance, you don’t need a referral to visit a health care provider. You want to see a chiropractor, just go! You don’t need a referral. Do you want to see an acupuncturist? Just go! PIP is easy to use…Just about all health care providers take PIP because it pays them well and there is much less red tape than the billing to health insurance. So choose clinics that are convenient for you, and just go there for your care! It really is that easy.
One thing to be careful of when using personal injury protection, know what your limit is. Most policies have a $10,000 limit and it can go quick, especially if an ER visit or MRI was involved. You can “buy up,” with $35,000 being fairly common as well.
Next, PIP has a modest wage loss component. Typically, if your medical limit is $10,000, your wage loss limit will be $200 per week for up to 50 weeks. If you buy up to a $35,000 PIP policy, the weekly wage loss limit is usually $700. Keep in mind that there is a 2-week quiet period, meaning there is no benefit for the first 14 days after you are injured. Also, be sure to document the need for the wage loss benefit. Make sure that your treating health care provider records the reason why you are off of work, and gives a timeframe. That timeframe can be extended as needed, but the insurance company will scrutinize each day that you claim the need for the wage loss benefit and they will be looking for a corresponding note from your health care provider that takes you off of work for that day.
Loss of services is the last main benefit of PIP coverage. Typically, a standard PIP policy will cover up to $200 per week if you have to hire somebody to do “essential services” such as cleaning your home or making your food if you cannot do those things yourself. Again, you will want your doctor to make a note of the fact that you are unable to do these household functions yourself and that you need to hire someone to help you.
There are some other benefits to PIP such as a $2000 funeral benefit… let’s hope you never need to use that one.
One last really important note….PIP benefits extend to every person in your car. So, for example, if you are in an accident and you have your child and a friend in the car, all three of you have your own $10,000 medical benefit to using. So please, use your PIP!