Many drivers are now aware of just what they’re insurance policy holds, and what types of coverages are included that can come in handy in important circumstances. A sample of insurance coverages that may be included in a policy is uninsured/underinsured motorist (UI/UIM) protection, gap insurance, and the topic of this article, personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. These types of insurance are designed to provide specific car accident-related needs; UI/UIM protection is designed to protect drivers who have been hit by another driver who was not carrying insurance (or was not carrying enough insurance), gap insurance is aimed to protect a vehicle if is total loss and money was still owed on it, and PIP is designed for accident-related expenses surrounding personal injury.
If you've been hurt in a car, truck or motorcycle wreck in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, one of your first steps should be to check and see if you have personal injury protection (PIP). This type of insurance affords you (or any passenger in your vehicle) coverage for injury or lost wages resulting from an auto accident.
Texas state law requires all car insurance companies to offer PIP, but a customer can choose to reject the coverage if they want. PIP covers you even if the accident was your fault.
Why Should You Carry PIP?
Many people chose to reject PIP because they don't want to add any extra charges to their insurance bill. Though this is understandable, you should carefully weigh the consequences of rejecting PIP.
If you have PIP, you'll be able to pay your medical bills more quickly. Additionally, PIP will greatly assist you if another driver wrecks into you but doesn't have enough insurance to cover your bills (for instance, if your bills are $70,000 but they were only carrying the minimum Texas insurance limit of $30,000).
If you're a motorcyclist, I'd highly recommend getting PIP. Motorcycle accidents tend to result in bigger injuries and higher medical bills, so motorcyclists can use all the coverage they can get.
Amounts of Coverage
The minimum PIP coverage is $2,500.00, and most insurance companies offer $2,500, $5,000 and $10,000 in PIP benefits. There are some insurance companies that offer up to $100,000 in PIP benefits.
If you decide to reject PIP coverage, you must sign a PIP rejection form. If you're involved in an accident and your insurance company can't produce that form you signed, you'll be allowed $2,500 in PIP benefits automatically.
How Do You Use PIP?
You can have your PIP payments sent directly to your medical provider to pay for any medical bills from the accident, or you can have your insurance company send the PIP benefits directly to you to pay your medical providers.
In some cases, if you ask your medical provider, they will forward your medical bills and records directly to the insurance company with a request for payment.
When you request to pay your medical providers directly, the insurance company will require you to provide them with copies of medical bills with treatment codes, along with the medical provider records before they will send the PIP payment to you.
With regard to using PIP benefits to pay for lost wages, you will need to provide the insurance company with documentation of the lost time from work. This can be a pay stub or a signed statement from your employer advising how much time was missed due to the accident and the total amount of your lost wages.
Does PIP Cover You If You're a Hurt Pedestrian?
Yes. Though most commonly used for drivers and their passengers inside the car, PIP covers any accident-related medical expenses. This is lucky, since pedestrian-auto collisions often end up with huge medical bills and injuries.
I've written more extensively on pedestrian accidents and PIP. You can find that article here.
If You're Hurt in a Wreck that Wasn't Your Fault and You Don't Want to Use Your PIP
If you were hurt in an accident of any kind, I encourage you to make a PIP claim using your policy, regardless of whether or not you were at fault. Our clients frequently tell us they don't want to make a claim on their own insurance policy because the accident was not their fault and they don't think their own insurance company should be involved. They fear that their insurance rates will go up.
However, PIP is a no-fault kind of insurance, meaning it's against the law for an insurance company to raise your rates for using it.
At my firm, we always encourage our clients to use their PIP and they're always pleased with the result.
A Texas Lawyer's Recommendation to You
I strongly recommend that everyone gets PIP. It's not very expensive and it sure comes in handy if you're in an accident. Also, just because you have health insurance doesn't mean you should skip PIP. It can cover deductibles, which are often very high, and can pay you for lost wages from missed work. Not to mention, you can get the money quickly - something I know all auto wreck victims are happy to hear.
Download My Free Guide
Want to learn more about each kind of auto insurance, what they're used for, how much they cost and what you need? I wrote a free guide for Texas drivers to help them make the right choices - and to prevent costly mistakes - when choosing an auto insurance policy. You can download my guide here.