Understanding the Legalities of Personal Injury Protection
When the high of becoming the proud owner of a new car sets in, it’s easy to forget – if even for a moment – about the massive responsibilities that a vehicle carries alongside its standard passenger seats. Car accidents happen far too often, and when they do, people can get hurt.
To make sure these damages don’t destroy the survivors financially, insurance companies let drivers sign contracts to enact policies in case of such drastic events – and while we don’t ever want to imagine being stuck behind the wheel when tragedy strikes, it’s a possibility that responsible drivers are aware of, and by getting an auto insurance plan, they are protecting themselves.
As such, it’s important to know what you’re facing when you’re about to go ahead and sign that all-important insurance policy. In the case of personal injury protection – or PIP – there’s a couple basic but important lessons to keep in mind.
PIP Is an Essential Part of Car Insurance
Personal injury protection is at the heart of every car insurance policy. Cars are built to be safe in the event that a collision does occur, and over the course of the past few decades, fatal traffic accidents have actually decreased according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. But there are always crashes where the damages to your person are more immediately severe than the damages to the vehicle.
In these events, PIP insurance covers the medical bills you would have to pay after getting treated for your injuries. However, it’s not all black-and-white. PIP can serve as a major portion of your insurance coverage, but it can also serve as an extension of your existing health insurance, depending on your provider’s coverage in the event of a car accident.
Medical bills aren’t the only thing PIP covers. Although it’s different from provider to provider, PIP can cover a plethora of other potential losses as well. It can aim to reimburse you for the wages you’ll have lost as a result of the accident. Furthermore, if an accident maimed you enough to leave you unable to perform some basic tasks like cleaning, then PIP can also pay for additional “substitute services” – such as the costs of hiring a domestic worker.
If the worst comes to pass, and you succumb to your injuries during the crash, then PIP can also contribute to paying for the funeral expenses your family will incur in the event of your death. So, in essence, PIP helps pay for:
- Medical bills – the one thing all PIP policies cover is part of the cost of your injuries.
- Work-loss – some PIP providers also reimburse you for wages lost during your recovery period.
- Substitute services – these are services you require if an injury leaves you unable to perform basic tasks, and you cannot enlist help from a partner or relative.
- Funeral expenses – some PIP policies also help the family cover funeral expenses in the event of a car accident-related death.
PIP Is Strictly “No-fault”
The one major detail with PIP that has to be made clear is that it’s only available within the country’s twelve no-fault states. These are states within the US that legally approach accidents with an immediate no-fault policy – that is, auto insurance is paid not based on who carries liability for the event due to causing it, but it’s paid to both parties as per their injuries and damages, and both parties have limited capability to pursue greater reimbursement from the liable party.
Other States Utilize Liability Coverage
Most states in the US operate under a liability system wherein auto insurance activates based on which party exercised provable negligence. Some states have an add-on auto insurance policy, wherein survivors of a crash are given the opportunity to sue afterwards.
Given the event of a crash within a state with the traditional liability system, and in the event that the crash most definitely wasn’t your fault, the other driver is required to pay for your medical bills using their liability coverage. Your own liability coverage would pay for their bills if you were the negligent party.
PIP May Be Part of Your Insurance Policy’s Requirements
As always, the extent and nature of any form of coverage is different with each insurance provider. Be sure to carefully read and understand what kind of coverage you can come to expect from your provider, and under what circumstances the company considers its coverage to be warranted.
Car crashes are horrifying to think about – but being left there with a mountain of debt after a traumatic accident is equally horrifying. As auto insurance expenditures continue to rise – according to facts from the Insurance Information Institute – it’s important for you and your family to be well-versed on your auto insurance, and to make sure you’re getting the best deal possible.