PIP, which stands for Personal Injury Protection, is the part of your auto insurance policy that covers your medical care in the event of an injury and it can be pivotal in the type and quality of care you receive. But what most people don’t realize is that their PIP benefits are typically inadequate to cover chronic pain or long term care.
Here’s what you need to know about PIP coverage, why you may be inadvertently underfunding your own medical care and what to do about it if you are.
If you already have medical benefits you may wonder why you need ancillary benefits as part of your auto insurance policy.
Turns out there are a number of reasons, including the fact that you can see any doctor that you choose. With PIP insurance there are no networks and no referral systems to wade through. This alone is often enough of a reason to inspire people to increase their PIP benefits because the last thing you want to do when you’re in pain or dealing with the ongoing effects of a car accident is worry about who you can and can’t see for help.
Another reason to take advantage of PIP benefits is because you’re covered with no questions asked. Often, health insurance companies will dispute policy questions and leave you with additional red tape to contend with. Not so with PIP. Your medical expenses are covered and you only pay a small out of pocket deductible and copay.
In addition, your health insurance company will likely put a lien on any personal injury case you file, so if you do get money from the case you will be required to use it to pay back at least some of your medical expenses. PIP does not require you to use any money gained through litigation for your medical care.
Finally, PIP is considered no-fault insurance. That means you’re covered regardless of who is at fault in the accident.
Given its benefits, you may wonder why PIP is so commonly underfunded. The answer is simple: the quest for cheap car insurance.
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Why Cheap Car Insurance Does You A Disservice
Nobody wants to pay more for something than they have to, especially when it comes to insurance. But the cost differential between the “cheap” version of your auto policy and one that provides quality PIP benefits is minimal. A few extra dollars each month can mean the difference between no-fault, no questions asked medical care and inadequate or contested care.
The problem is typically compounded by the Internet, where offers for cheap car insurance abound. In an effort to keep their prices as low as possible, many auto insurance providers will offer you the minimum PIP coverage by default. Unless you understand this and take the time to adjust it to its max, you will be left underinsured in the event that you need ongoing medical care.
But even if you have the max in PIP benefits, there is still another reason to pay attention to your policy, and that’s to be sure that you’ve set your PIP insurance to be your primary form of medical insurance in the event of a car accident.
PIP is typically not primary by default, which means that before you can take advantage of its benefits, you’ll still be forced to go through your health insurance company first. So be sure to check your auto policy and be sure that PIP is your primary form of medical coverage.
The good news is that even if PIP is not set to be your primary insurance, it will still kick in automatically if you don’t have health insurance – but the bad news is you’ll be on the hook for fees and penalties.
How To Make PIP Benefits Work For You
When it comes to managing long term care for your auto injuries, including chiropractic care, pain management, pain medications, injections or therapies and other ongoing treatments, take these two proactive steps to protect yourself:
- Choose maximum PIP benefits on your auto policy – the cost differential is small compared to the long term care and peace of mind you’ll obtain, and;
- Be sure to set PIP benefits on your policy as your primary form of insurance in the event of an auto accident.
It’s that simple – and that important.
If you’ve been in a car accident and find yourself in need of a personal injury attorney who will fight on your behalf, contact us for a free consultation. Our attorneys are experienced at trial and in managing these issues to help you get the best possible outcome for your situation.