All insurers are required to offer PIP ( Personal Injury Protection ) coverage on each auto liability policy sold in Maryland. However, a policy holder may “waive” (decline to purchase) Personal Injury Protection coverage on an auto policy, which might lower the annual policy cost. Many people are uncertain, however, about what PIP coverage is and whether there is a real cost benefit to having it on your insurance policy.
What is Personal Injury Protection?
Personal Inury Protection coverage is a benefit that your carrier pays you and potentially your passengers if you are in an auto accident in your insured vehicle and suffer injuries or time off work. The carrier must offer PIP coverage of at least $2,500, although many companies offer the policy holder the option of purchasing higher limits of PIP coverage.
Why Do I Need Personal Injury Protection?
PIP is considered a “no fault” benefit. One of the intended purposes of PIP coverage was to provide prompt reimbursement of early medical costs or lost wages incurred after an accident. It is available whether or not you were at fault for the accident, or where fault is in dispute. Example – You collide with another vehicle in an intersection and are injured. You claim you had a green light at the time. The other driver claims he had a green light. As a result, the other driver’s insurance carrier advises you that it is not accepting liability for your claim. It might take many months to resolve the liability dispute in court. During that time, you might receive bills from the emergency room and other health care providers, or lose wages from work that you rely on to meet household expenses. PIP coverage, if you purchased it, is available to immediately pay those bills, preventing them from going into collection or otherwise affecting your credit, or to reimburse you for time off work.
PIP is especially important if, like many Marylanders, you have no available health insurance. Getting a physician to see you after an accident is a challenge if you have no health coverage. Many medical offices impose “pay-as-you-go” requirements on patients who have no health care, requiring you to bring payment with you to each office visit, x-ray, etc. If you can’t afford to do this, you might have no way to get necessary health care after an accident. But if the doctor’s office understands that you have PIP coverage available, you may get access to health care that you might not be able to personally afford.
What Does Sussman & Simcox Think about Personal Injury Protection?
At Sussman & Simcox, we think PIP coverage makes great sense. We encourage all of our clients to review their auto polices to make sure that have purchased PIP coverage. It is not uncommon for a client to come in after an accident and only then discover that they declined to purchase PIP coverage. Frequently, this was a decision they made many years earlier when money was tight, not realizing that with each annual insurance renewal, that PIP “waiver” was also automatically renewed, leaving them without that benefit. Don’t discover this for the first time after an accident! If you sit with your insurance agent, or use an online insurance service, make sure to review available PIP coverage. Compare the cost of the policy with and without PIP. You will likely find that adding PIP to your auto policy does not raise your annual premium by very much, and provides you with an important benefit if you are injured.