It’s Not Full Coverage Without PIP

Are you “fully covered” by your auto insurance? Not unless you have PIP coverage.

We have all heard the taglines that car insurance companies love to use in order to grab our attention by hitting us where it matters most – our wallets. But, when we look at the actual numbers, are we really saving money on car insurance by paying less, or are we just paying for less coverage, which hurts us in the long run? One trick insurance companies love to use, especially those which boast about saving their customers money, is simply offering less coverage for less money.

An area of coverage where car insurance companies like to say you can “save money,” is called personal injury protection (or PIP) coverage. PIP coverage is different from liability coverage, which covers injury to someone else hurt in a collision that was your fault. Liability coverage cannot be waived, meaning you must have at least $25,000 required by Washington State Law. But PIP insurance can be waived, meaning you legally don’t have to have it, and this is where things get tricky.  Insurance companies love to tell consumers that they have “full coverage” when, in reality, all they have is liability coverage. Don’t allow yourself to be misled by the term “full coverage.” Ask questions about options and costs of coverage.

PIP coverage must be offered to ALL consumers in Washington State pursuant to state statute RCW 48.22.085, but it can be waived (rejected) if done so in writing. This is important insurance coverage for anyone driving a car.

PIP coverage is commonly known as “no-fault coverage.” This type of coverage provides dollar-for-dollar payment of your medical expenses, meaning you have no deductibles or co-pays up to the limits of your coverage (normally $10,000 to $35,000).  If your treatment expenses exceed the cost of your PIP coverage, you can then use your medical insurance, but that also means you will have to pay a medical insurance deductible.

It is also important to note that a lot of medical insurance plans do not cover, or severely limit the number of treatments for physical therapy or chiropractic care. So, without PIP coverage, consumers could potentially be saddled with large out of pocket expenses for care that’s not covered under their health insurance.

In addition to providing you no-fault insurance for medical treatment costs, PIP also provides you crucial wage loss coverage in the event your injuries prevent you from being able to work. This coverage could potentially prevent you from financial devastation while trying to recover from your injuries.

By telling consumers they can save money by waiving PIP coverage, insurance companies are disguising their true motive: they are actually saving money by offering less coverage, and in turn paying out less for injuries (and potentially lost wages), but still collecting nearly the same amount in premiums. To them, it’s a numbers game. The cost of paying for someone’s health care expenses related to every collision on the road far exceeds the amount in premiums insurance companies collect by providing PIP coverage in the first place. So, they look to place that cost on the consumer by telling us we can save money by opting out of certain coverages like personal injury protection.

It is important that you take into account your situation when shopping for car insurance. Do you have medical insurance with a high deductible? Do you not have medical insurance at all? If your only answer to these questions is yes, it is critical for you and your family to have PIP coverage on your vehicle.

If you are injured in an accident, and have questions about your coverage, call Abeyta Nelson Injury Law. Remember, there is no cost to talk with us, and we don’t get paid unless you do.

-blog written by attorney Brett N. Goodman, Abeyta Nelson Injury Law