What is Personal Injury Protection “PIP”?

Everyone with a registered vehicle in Florida must carry an auto insurance policy that includes personal injury protection coverage. Many people mistakenly think they understand how auto insurance works, but it is far more complicated than they realize. Auto insurance policies are complex and often contain ambiguous language. Below, we provide a basic overview of what personal injury protection coverage is in Florida, including what the requirements are, what it covers, and when it kicks in.

If you were recently in a car accident talk to the car accident attorneys at Farmer, Jaffe, Weissing, Edwards, Fistos & Lehrman, P.L. before filing a PIP claim with your insurance company. You may have additional avenues of compensation available that you are unaware of. Contact us at 954-524-2820 and schedule a free consultation.

What is PIP and what does it cover?

Personal injury protection, or PIP, covers your medical expenses when you are injured in an accident, regardless of who was at fault. It is an essential coverage in no-fault states like Florida in which drivers turn to their own insurance companies for compensation after an accident. Some drivers assume they do not need PIP because they have health insurance, but this is not the case.

Why? First, you must carry it if you have a registered car in Florida because the state mandates it. If you do not carry it, you face penalties.

“The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles [DHSMV] is authorized to suspend your driving privilege, including your vehicle license plate and registration, for up to three years or until proof of Florida insurance is provided, whichever is first,” explains the DHSMV.

Second, PIP covers you for expenses your health insurance does not cover. For example, PIP can cover your:

  • Health insurance deductibles
  • Eighty percent of your medical expenses (e.g., hospital, specialists, surgical, nursing, dental, ambulance, medical tests, medications, other medical supplies and assistive devices, and prosthetic devices)
  • Sixty percent of your lost wages
  • Loss of services (e.g., the cost of hiring someone to run your errands, deliver groceries, watch your children, and do other household tasks if your injuries prevent you from doing so)
  • Funeral and burial or cremation expenses

Which parties does PIP cover?

PIP does not just cover the policyholder. It also covers:

  • Relatives in the policyholder’s household
  • Passengers that do not have their own PIP coverage
  • Authorized drivers of the policyholder’s vehicle
  • The policyholder and his/her family members if they are injured while riding in someone else’s car

You can use your PIP when you have been injured as a driver, a passenger in someone else’s car, a pedestrian, or cyclist.

How much PIP coverage does Florida mandate drivers carry?

Florida requires that drivers carry a minimum of $10,000 in PIP coverage. Considering the high costs of medical care and the amount of income you could lose if you have to take several weeks or months off work due to your injuries, $10,000 may not be enough to cover your needs. It may have been sufficient in 1978 when the threshold was set, but in today’s economy, $10,000 is a just a drop in the bucket for the costs of even moderate injuries.

Fortunately, you can opt to purchase additional PIP coverage from your insurance company. If your budget allows, you can extend your coverage in exchange for slightly higher monthly premiums. There are two types of extra PIP you can buy:

  1. Extended PIP: Covers 100 percent of your medical expenses (rather than 80 percent like basic PIP) and 80 percent of wage loss (rather than 60 percent).
  2. Added PIP: Increases the $10,000 limit. Most insurers offer limits of $25,000, $40,000, and $90,000.

 How much does PIP coverage cost?

The cost of PIP coverage for your policy depends on various factors, including your age, gender, marital status, driving record, eligibility for discounts, and credit score. Insurers have proprietary formulas for calculating insurance rates and scores, so it is impossible to calculate an exact cost without speaking to an insurer for a personal quote.

In a research report, ValuePenguin provided example auto insurance quotes in Florida for a 30-year-old male driving a 2010 Toyota Camry to give readers a feel for what basic PIP coverage costs. The lower the deductible you opt for, the higher your monthly premiums will be. The quotes the site gathered included the following:

  • $0 Deductible: $167 for PIP
  • $250 Deductible: $151 for PIP
  • $500 Deductible: $144 for PIP
  • $1,000 Deductible: $139 for PIP

Note: The above example premiums are only for the PIP portion of the policy. They do not include the mandatory Property Damage Liability drivers must also carry.

Do I have to use my own PIP if I was hurt in an accident?

In most instances, if you are hurt in an accident, you file a claim with your insurance company and use your PIP to pay for your expenses. This is not always the case, though. If your injuries are serious and another driver was at fault for the accident, you retain the right to pursue compensation from the at-fault driver, rather than your own insurer.

This is an important distinction because when you file a claim against the other driver, you might be able to collect a much higher settlement than when you use your own PIP coverage.

To determine the best way to proceed with your claim, speak to a Fort Lauderdale car accident attorney at Farmer, Jaffe, Weissing, Edwards, Fistos & Lehrman, P.L. and discuss your options. The consultation is free and we work on a contingency fee basis which means we don’t get paid unless you get paid. Call us today at 954-524-2820 to arrange an appointment.