What is personal injury protection?
Personal injury protection (PIP), also known as no-fault insurance, covers medical expenses and lost wages for you and your passengers if you're injured in an accident. PIP coverage protects you regardless of who's at fault. Personal injury protection insurance is mandatory in some states and optional or not offered at all in other states.
What is a no-fault insurance state?
A no-fault insurance state requires drivers to carry PIP coverage so that some or all of their medical expenses resulting from a car accident are covered by their own insurance, regardless of who's at fault. No-fault states also put restrictions on the right to sue so only lawsuits that involve severe injuries can be filed. The intent of the no-fault system is to reduce the cost of auto insurance by keeping lawsuits over minor injuries out of the courtroom.
The majority of states are considered at-fault states and only require liability insurance in lieu of PIP coverage, although PIP coverage is optional or mandatory in some at-fault states. Learn more about the car insurance requirements in your state.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, there are currently 12 no-fault insurance states that require PIP coverage.
No-fault insurance states:
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Dakota
There are also three states that require PIP coverage but allow drivers to opt out of a no-fault insurance policy.
Optional no-fault insurance states:
- New Jersey
Who pays for car damage in a no-fault state?
Property damage is covered the same way in no-fault and at-fault states. If your vehicle is damaged by another driver, their property damage liability coverage would pay for repairs. Likewise, your property damage liability coverage would pay to fix someone else's vehicle you hit.
What if I don't live in a no-fault insurance state?
In states where PIP isn't available, you'll have the option to select medical payments coverage on your policy. Medical payments typically won't cover lost wages but will cover funeral expenses and hospital bills for you and passengers in your car, regardless of who's at fault. Coverage amounts vary by state, but they're typically $10,000 or less, so medical payments should only be used as a supplement to your health or life insurance and not as a replacement.
Medical payments can also be used for deductibles, copayments, and out-of-pocket expenses related to an auto accident. You have the flexibility to decide how to apply your medical payments. You might consider using your health insurance for your medical bills and using medical payments coverage for your high deductibles and copays.
Find out how PIP coverage works in your state
What does personal injury protection cover?
If you're involved in a car accident, even if you're not driving, there are specific things covered by personal injury protection. Depending on the state you live in, PIP may cover:
- Medical bills for you and those covered on your policy (also covers you if you're hit by a car while walking or riding a bike)
- Lost wages if you or your passengers are injured and can't work
- Household services such as childcare, house cleaning, or yard work
- Disability and rehab costs
- Death benefit (paid to your family if you're in a fatal car accident)
Personal injury protection coverage can take care of medical bills for you and anyone covered on your policy. In some states, non-medical benefits, such as coverage for lost wages, household services, and disability, can protect you, your passengers, and family members in your household, even if they're not on your policy.
In some states, your PIP coverage may include a deductible, with a range of deductible amounts for you to choose from. Learn more about personal injury protection deductibles.
What isn't covered by PIP insurance?
No-fault insurance won't cover you for expenses unrelated to personal injuries after an accident, such as:
- Damage to your vehicle: For protection against damage to your car, you'll need to add comprehensive car insurance coverage and auto collision coverage.
- Theft of your vehicle: If you carry comprehensive coverage, your insurance can help repair or replace your car if it gets stolen.
- Damage to someone's property: If you're found responsible for an accident, property damage liability coverage can help pay for another person's damaged vehicle or property.
How can I select the right amount of personal injury protection coverage?
Consider your health insurance: Do you need PIP if you have health insurance? If you have great health insurance, you could select a lower amount of PIP coverage. That may be a good strategy for saving money if you know you're already well-covered under your health insurance. This is especially true if you have a low health insurance deductible.
Consider your health insurance deductible: If you live in a state where PIP is optional, consider purchasing at least the minimum amount of coverage if you don't have health insurance or you're on a high-deductible health plan.
Know which type of insurance pays first: PIP usually comes before your medical insurance when paying out a claim. If you're injured in an auto accident, in most states your PIP coverage will be in the primary position and any health insurance you have will be secondary.
Add PIP if you don't have life insurance: Adding PIP could help your family cover unforeseen expenses if you're in a fatal auto accident, though it's still worth considering life insurance in order to provide a greater death benefit to your family.
Consider your lost wages: If your job requires physical labor, can you afford to miss time if you're injured in an auto accident? If not, consider adding PIP or increasing your limits since it covers lost wages (up to a specific amount and length of time).