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What Is Personal Injury Protection?

Recovering from a car accident involves more than fixing your car; you might be injured, miss time at work, or have injured passengers who need help.

That’s where Personal Injury Protection (also known as PIP Insurance) comes in. It’s a type of car insurance that offers financial reimbursement for medical expenses, help with lost wages and other damages, for you and your passengers.

Personal Injury Protection Insurance is a type of no-fault insurance, which means that it applies regardless of fault in the accident.

This article will provide a deep dive into how PIP Insurance works, what it covers, and more.

What does Personal Injury Protection cover?

Personal Injury Protection offers extensive car insurance coverage after an auto accident. Some of its coverage includes:

  • Medical expenses: This includes hospital bills, doctor fees, treatment costs, medications and more.

  • Lost wages: If you’re injured and can’t work, Personal Injury Protection Car Insurance can help with a portion of your lost income.

  • Essential services: Again, if you’re injured, you may not be able to move around your home or care for your children. PIP Insurance can help cover associated costs.

  • Rehabilitation: Reimbursement for the costs of physical or occupational therapy if needed.

  • Funeral expenses: Should you pass away in a car accident, this coverage can help alleviate the funeral’s financial burden to your family.

  • Passenger coverage: Personal Injury Protection can extend to any passengers in your car who might’ve been injured.

What does Personal Injury Protection not cover?

While Personal Injury Insurance coverage is extensive, there are several things it does not protect from.

The first important distinction to make is that Personal Injury Protection does not provide protection or financial assistance for damage to your car itself. It only covers costs related to physical injury to you and your passengers. (To protect your car, look into Comprehensive Coverage or Collision Coverage.)

Beyond that, Personal Injury Coverage does not extend to the following:

  • Injuries to those in other cars beyond your own

  • Non-medical financial loss, such as pain and suffering

  • Accidents while driving a commercial vehicle

  • Non-essential medical treatment, like cosmetic procedures or alternative therapies

Personal Injury Protection state requirements

Personal Injury Protection is optional in most states, but it’s mandatory in what are called no-fault states. These are states where the law requires your own insurance to cover injuries, regardless of who’s at fault in an accident.

As of 2024, the list of states that require Personal Injury Protection are:

  • Florida

  • Hawaii

  • Kansas

  • Kentucky

  • Massachusetts

  • Michigan

  • Minnesota

  • New Jersey

  • New York

  • North Dakota

  • Oregon

  • Pennsylvania

  • Utah

PIP Insurance is not required outside of these states.

One last thing: There are some states where Personal Injury Protection is not offered at all. Check with your insurance agent; if you’re in one of these states, there’s a similar insurance type called Medical Payments Coverage (MedPay) that might be available.

How Personal Injury Protection works

After an accident, regardless of who’s at fault, you’d file a claim with your insurance provider. You’ll need to provide documentation of costs related to the accident—medical expenses, lost wages, and the same for passengers if they’re injured. Your insurance company will review the claim, verify the information, and determine how much they’ll cover based on your policy’s coverage limits.

Personal Injury Protection and other coverage types

Car insurance is complex, with coverages that seem to overlap but are unique in the details. In this section, we’ll compare Personal Injury Protection with two similar coverage types.

PIP Coverage vs. Medical Payments Coverage (MedPay)

Both Personal Injury Protection and Medical Payments Coverage help reimburse medical bills if you, your family or passengers require medical treatment after a car accident, regardless of who caused the accident. In that respect, they’re the same.

But they do have distinct differences. According to Insurance.com1:

  • Both PIP and MedPay are no-fault coverages that pay medical bills, and some other costs as well, after an accident

  • PIP and MedPay coverage are optional in most states, but a few require one or both.

  • MedPay provides a small amount of coverage for injuries to you, your passengers and household members, PIP coverage limits are higher and extend to things like funeral costs.

PIP Coverage vs. Bodily Injury Liability

As we’ve covered, PIP Insurance covers bodily injury to you and any passengers in your car, but it doesn’t extend to people in other cars. That’s where Bodily Injury Liability picks up coverage.

Bodily Injury Liability helps pay or injuries to others if you're deemed at fault for an accident, and is required in order to add Personal Injury Protection or MedPay to your policy. It’s an important piece of protection and is required in almost all states.

Another key difference: It’s a fault-based insurance type. Bodily Injury Liability will pay out only if you’re found to be the cause of the accident, whereas PIP Coverage pays out regardless of fault.

How much Personal Injury Protection do I need?

As with any insurance coverage, there are a few things to consider when determining how much Personal Injury Protection coverage you need.

First, consider your financial situation. Determine what your budget allows, and as you compare policies, pay attention to coverage limits:

  • Per-person coverage limits: The maximum amount your insurance provider will pay for each covered person involved in the accident.

  • Per-accident coverage limits: The maximum amount your provider will pay for all medical expenses resulting from a single accident.

You’ll also need to know whether you live in a fault or no-fault state:

  • At-fault state: The driver responsible for the accident is responsible for all damages.

  • No-fault state: After an accident, each driver’s own insurance company pays for damages; fault does not matter.

If you live in a no-fault state, you’re required to carry Personal Injury Protection. Alternatively, Medical Payments Coverage is a smart choice if you’re in an at-fault state.

Ultimately, if you’re considering adding Personal Injury Protection to your car insurance, talk to your insurance agent today—they can help you determine how much coverage you need, answer any questions and provide an auto insurance quote.


Updated 6-27-24

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