From property damage and personal injury to healthcare bills and loss of wages, getting caught in an automobile accident can turn your life upside-down. That’s why many states offer Personal Injury Protection (PIP) to make sure you’re protected both medically and financially.

But the rules surrounding PIP are different for each state. So, it’s important to find out what PIP is, and whether you need to include it in your insurance plan.

What is Personal Injury Protection?

Without appropriate vehicle insurance, the massive medical costs associated with traffic collisions would be too much for most people to handle. But having PIP protects you and your passengers from paying collision-related hospital bills yourselves. In the event of a crash, PIP ensures these are paid instantly by your insurance provider.

PIP can be used to cover:

  • Hospitalization
  • Operations
  • Ongoing healthcare
  • Lost wages resulting from injury
  • Home care expenses, such as cleaning or childcare
  • Accidental death benefits
  • Funeral costs

However, it doesn’t cover:

  • Property damage
  • Injuries to other drivers in the crash
  • Injuries you sustain from an accident in which you were being paid to drive, such as cab driving
  • Injuries you sustain from an accident while committing a crime

How does Personal Injury Protection work?

When you file a PIP claim, your insurance plan pays out up to the maximum amount covered in your policy. That frees you from the personal and financial pressure of covering any medical costs related to the collision. It also protects healthcare professionals from treating patients who are unable to pay.

If your medical expenses exceed the limit of your PIP policy, you might be able to use your health insurance to cover the outstanding costs.

Personal Injury Protection vs. liability insurance

While PIP protects you and other passengers in your vehicle, it doesn’t cover damage to property or bodily injury. So, to make sure you’re fully insured in the case of a road traffic accident, you’ll also need liability insurance.

Luckily, this is mandatory in almost every state (including the territory of Puerto Rico), with the exception of New Hampshire and Virginia. Bodily injury liability insurance covers injuries caused to other parties, and property damage liability insurance covers their vehicles and possessions.

What states require Personal Injury Protection?

Each state in the United States of America has different rules for auto insurance. These fall into three categories:

  • At-fault: injured parties file a compensation claim against any parties who are responsible for the collision, and their insurance provider conducts payouts.
  • No-fault: when it comes to seeking compensation for a vehicle collision, it doesn’t matter who was responsible. All parties file a compensation claim with their own insurance provider, and there’s no need to prove who did or didn’t cause the crash.
  • Choice no-fault: these states give drivers the choice of whether they want an at-fault or a no-fault policy. This is decided when a driver buys their insurance, and continues for as long as their policy lasts.

In states that operate under a no-fault system, drivers are legally required to buy PIP insurance. That’s why it’s also known as “no-fault insurance”. PIP isn’t available in at-fault states, meaning drivers need to pay for hospital bills related to a car accident through an insurance company. Many insurers call this type of protection MedPay.

There’s a total of 12 states and one territory in the US that use either a no-fault system or a choice no-fault system. These are:

  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky (choice no-fault)
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • New Jersey (choice no-fault)
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Pennsylvania (choice no-fault)
  • Puerto Rico
  • Utah

Similarly, PIP is a mandatory insurance add-on in:

  • Arkansas
  • Delaware
  • Maryland
  • Oregon
  • Texas

It’s also offered as an optional add-on in:

  • New Hampshire
  • South Dakota
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin
  • Washington D.C.

All other states operate under an at-fault system, and so PIP is unavailable.

To show the difference between a no-fault and an at-fault state, let’s compare PIP in Kansas and Missouri.

Personal Injury Protection in Kansas

As a no-fault state, drivers in Kansas must have a PIP insurance plan. By law, the minimum amount required is:

  • Medical expenses: $4,500 per person.
  • Disability and loss of income: $900 per month for a year.
  • In-home services: $25 per day.
  • Funeral, burial or cremation expense: $2,000.
  • Rehabilitation expense: $4,500.

Personal Injury Protection in Missouri

As an at-fault state, drivers in Missouri don’t need to purchase PIP. However, they’re still legally required to have some form of insurance to cover their medical payments. For an insurance claim to be considered valid, at least one driver must be held responsible for the crash.

How much Personal Injury Protection do I need?

Legally, drivers need to purchase PIP up to the minimum value required by the state. For example, drivers in Kansas only need to buy PIP up to $4,500 per individual.

That said, according to CDC the average cost of medical care for a vehicle occupant following a crash is $12,270. So, it’s recommended to get coverage for this amount at least.

However, even this figure doesn’t take into account factors like loss of wages or in-home services. That means having more than minimum coverage will provide a guarantee that, no matter how expensive the medical care and financial support you need, your insurance will cover it.

If you already have health insurance, check to see if it includes injury and rehabilitation costs related to car accidents. Remember to take the deductible amounts and coverage limits into account, and use this to choose an appropriate level of PIP coverage.

How do I file a Personal Injury Protection claim?

Filing a claim for PIP is much like claiming for any other type of insurance. You need to contact your auto insurance company either online or by phone, and follow their process for making a PIP claim.

In Kansas, you have up to two years to file a PIP claim following an automobile collision. But since PIP is designed to help you quickly cover vehicle-related medical costs, it’s highly recommended to file your claim as soon as possible.

PIP helps pay essential hospital bills immediately after a crash. But for non-urgent claims, you might need to review or pre-approve your treatment plan with a medical professional assigned by your auto insurance provider.

Filing a PIP claim isn’t always easy, especially when your insurance provider has lawyers to protect their best interests. So, if you want to file a PIP claim, it’s recommended to find a passionate, knowledgeable, and talented personal injury lawyer to represent you and your case.

Hire an expert personal injury trial lawyer from Phalen Law

At Phalen Law, our dedicated team of experienced trial lawyers is here to make sure you get the payments you deserve following a personal injury claim. We have three offices in Kansas – including Pittsburg, Coffeyville, and Kansas City – and one in Joplin, Missouri.

Contact us today for your free no-obligation consultation, and find out how to protect your legal rights in the aftermath of a road traffic accident.