personal injury protection insurance

What is Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and why do you Need it?

Today, most Florida residents carry car insurance to cover vehicle damages or claims. Most people also carry health insurance, which covers major medical bills. After a car accident, though, many drivers discover gaps in those policies. These gaps require them to pay out-of-pocket for post-injury expenses. Fortunately, that’s where personal injury protection comes in.

Personal injury protection, or PIP, is a type of no-fault insurance (and a component of auto insurance) required in Florida and many other states. Designed to offer coverage for people injured in an automobile accident, PIP pays for medical expenses, rehabilitation care costs, funeral costs, and more.

PIP’s benefits are varied. For example, in the state of Florida, PIP covers 80% of your medical bills and 60% of your lost wages. However, Florida PIP policies typically only cover a total of $10,000 combined for all claims. PIP also provides up to $5,000 in death benefits for insured drivers. PIP would also cover an accident that happened if you were hit by a car while walking or riding a bike.

Here’s what you need to know about PIP policies in Florida and the benefits of carrying one.

The Definition of PIP Insurance

PIP insurance provides coverage for the policyholder, no matter what. It falls under Florida’s no-fault insurance laws, which means it extends benefits regardless of who was responsible for the accident. PIP insurance will cover policyholders who were not driving or were at fault in the accident. In Florida, the general rule is that auto insurance companies will pay up to $10,000 toward a claim. This claim may include lost wages, out-of-pocket expenses, and medical expense – regardless of fault.

While some people confuse PIP with bodily injury protection (which is a part of liability insurance), they are not the same thing. Liability insurance only protects other people injured in an accident that involved you. It does not protect the policyholder.

Unlike traditional insurance policies, PIP also covers wages you lose as a result of a car accident. If your injuries are severe enough that you cannot work, PIP will provide the funds to help you get through at a rate of 60% of your lost wages.

What many people don’t know about PIP insurance is that it will only cover a percentage of the above benefits. For example, PIP will pay medical expenses, but only 80%, and up to $10,000. PIP will also only pay 60% of lost wages. When PIP benefits run out, health insurance coverage generally steps in if the injured person has it.  

Today, 16 states require their residents to carry PIP insurance. These states include Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, and Florida. Each state has different minimum coverage requirements.

Is PIP Required if You Have Health Insurance?

If you live in Florida (or any other state where PIP is mandatory), you must carry a PIP policy even if you have medical insurance. If you get into a car accident, you must file a claim under your PIP policy before you file a claim with your regular health insurance.

When you live in a state that doesn’t require PIP, it’s still considered a wise move to purchase a PIP policy. Because these plans provide benefits standard insurance does not (such as payment for funeral costs and lost wages), it can provide essential gap coverage after an accident.

In some states, like Michigan, PIP coverage will work with your health insurance policy to pay benefits. Your health insurance policy may cover the cost of your physical injuries and hospital visits, for example, while PIP covers rehabilitation expenses.

The State of PIP Insurance in Florida: How Much Should You Carry?

While PIP is mandatory in many states, Florida handles this type of insurance slightly differently. In Pensacola and the surrounding areas, PIP insurers aren’t entitled to or the process of substituting one person by another for a claim. This differs largely from the standards of other no-fault states. Florida also places timelines on when insured parties can file a claim – they must do it within 14 days of the accident.

Finally, Florida has laws regarding how much PIP insurance drivers should carry. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles:

“The Florida Motor Vehicle No-Fault Law requires all owner/registrants of a motor vehicle with four wheels or more to carry a minimum of $10,000 of Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and $10,000 of property damage liability (PDL) if you own a motor vehicle in Florida. Florida law requires you to maintain PIP/PDL insurance continuously throughout the licensing and registration period.”

If you want to reduce the monthly premiums of your PIP coverage, you can add a deductible to the plan.

What if You Need to File a PIP Claim?

The process of filing a PIP claim differs from other insurance policies. If you were filing with standard auto insurance, for example, you wouldn’t typically be required to provide a recorded statement. With PIP insurance, however, the law may require you to log and submit a statement.

Because most states mandate that insured people work with their insurance company during PIP claims, it helps to have an attorney assist you. In extreme cases, it’s possible for PIP insurers to terminate coverage if the insured person does not cooperate during the claims process.

Thanks to recent changes in Florida law, injured parties must seek treatment and report the accident to their auto insurance company within 14 days of the car accident, or risk forfeiting PIP benefits. To ensure full payouts, injured parties must also work with “in-network” doctors who recognize the presence of an “emergency medical condition” (EMC) in the patient. If there is not an EMC present, Florida PIP benefits drop to just $2,500.

With this in mind, secure representation as you seek to file a PIP policy. A team of knowledgeable PIP attorneys in Pensacola, Florida can help you understand the policies and timelines laid out by your insurance provider and ensure you get the maximum benefits possible for your case.

Need to get legal advice from an experienced team of personal injury lawyers? At Ward & Barnes, P.A. we do not charge you a fee unless there is a recovery. Contact us today to learn more or to set up an appointment now!