Personal injury protection, or PIP, is a type of car insurance that covers the costs if you or your passengers are injured in an accident. Also called no-fault car insurance or first party benefits coverage, PIP coverage can pay for medical expenses, lost wages, services like child care, and even funeral expenses.
It’s required in so-called no-fault states, which are states where drivers have to cover the costs of their injuries after an accident using their own insurance, regardless of who was at fault.
What is personal injury protection?
When you’re hurt in an accident, personal injury protection pays for your medical expenses, regardless of who was at fault. It even covers passengers and other drivers insured by your policy. The expenses have to be related to the injury, though, which means that property damage won’t be covered by PIP.
PIP insurance is required in no-fault states, where drivers have to seek reimbursement for their injuries from their own car insurance company, even if someone else was at fault in the accident.
You don’t have to be injured while driving in order to use your PIP coverage. PIP will also cover your injuries and related expenses if you’re hit by a car while walking or riding your bike.
What does personal injury protection cover?
As mentioned above, personal injury protection can pay for medical expenses, lost wages, death benefits, and even funeral expenses if you or your passengers are hurt in a car accident. Here’s a closer look at what it means to file a PIP claim:
1. Medical bills
You’re covered even if you’re not driving at the time of the injury, like if you get hit by a car while walking across the street. Medical expenses covered by PIP may include:
Surgery, nursing, emergency care, X-rays, prescriptions, and dental care
Therapy, rehabilitation, and remedial care
Psychiatric and psychological care
Speech and audiological services
Non-medical care in accordance with your religious beliefs
2. Lost wages
If you can’t work as a result of an injury from a car accident, PIP insurance can replace some of your lost income. However, not every car insurance company offers this part of PIP insurance, and it may cost extra to add to your base car insurance policy.
Although every insurer offers different terms, the amount you’re allowed to claim in lost wages may be limited by your policy. Insurers usually pay up to 80% of your lost wages, up to a specified limit.
If you have a deductible, your deductible amount will also be taken out of your reimbursement. Depending on state law, you may be reimbursed for less based on any social benefits you receive, such as worker’s compensation or Social Security disability insurance.
3. Death benefit
Personal injury protection coverage may pay out a small sum, called a death benefit, to the survivors of someone killed in a car accident. The amount is usually limited to a dollar amount or the remainder of any unused PIP benefits.
However, if you already have life insurance, the death benefit offered by PIP coverage may seem small in comparison. Since life insurance also covers you if you die in a car accident, the PIP provision for death benefits isn’t worth it on its own if you can afford a term life insurance policy.
4. Funeral expenses
As with the death benefit provision, your auto insurance’s PIP coverage may also pay for funeral expenses, but coverage will be limited by the terms of your policy.
The funeral expenses provision of your PIP coverage may not be enough to fully reimburse the costs of a funeral. For that, an affordable term life insurance policy may be a better choice.
5. Essential services
If your injury means you’re unable to perform certain tasks, like child care, lawn mowing, or house cleaning, your PIP coverage may reimburse you for the cost of those services while you’re recovering.
Who does PIP insurance cover?
Car insurance generally follows the car, not the driver, but PIP is unique because it can cover you and the other drivers on your policy even when you’re not driving. PIP, or no-fault insurance, covers the following people:
You, the person insured by the policy, while you're in your car or if you're hit by a car
Any of your immediate family members, while in your car or when hit by another car
Any passengers injured while in your car
That means that if your spouse gets hit by someone else or runs into a pole, their medical expenses may be covered by PIP, even if you weren’t in the car at the time.
What’s not covered by PIP insurance?
Personal injury protection coverage covers your medical expenses in most circumstances, but PIP insurance does have one notable exclusion: If you’re injured in a car that isn’t covered by your insurance, you may not be covered at all.
PIP will cover you when you're driving your own car, when you're hit by someone else as a pedestrian, and as a passenger in someone else's vehicle. But your PIP may not cover you while you’re driving someone else’s car, depending on your state and the specifics of your policy.
Additionally, property damage is not covered by personal injury protection. If the damage to your car was caused by another driver, then their liability coverage will provide reimbursement. If you caused the damage, or if a force beyond your control caused the damage, your collision or comprehensive coverage will reimburse you.
Which states require PIP insurance?
In no-fault states, you’re required to have personal injury protection insurance. In at-fault states, PIP insurance may not even be offered at all, or it may be required as an add-on to your liability insurance. This means you can still sue the other party and receive reimbursement for injury expenses from your car insurance company.
In at-fault states that don’t offer PIP coverage, you may still be able to get MedPay coverage, which also covers your injuries after a car accident, regardless of who was at fault.
In a no-fault state, each driver’s insurance covers their own injuries and expenses after a car accident, regardless of who caused it. In an at-fault state, also known as a tort state, the driver who is liable for the damage is responsible for paying for the damage, whether through their car insurance or out of pocket.
The chart below shows a list of no-fault states and how much PIP coverage is required in each:
PIP coverage required
$4,500 per accident
$8,000 per accident
Amount varies depending on health insurance
$20,000 per accident
$15,000 per accident
$3,000 per person
What does PIP cover in Michigan?
PIP coverage in Michigan is the same as any other state, except that Michigan laws allow residents to choose significantly higher levels of coverage than residents of any other state. Michigan offers six levels of PIP coverage:
Unlimited coverage (This is the most expensive option)
Up to $500,000 in coverage
Up to $250,000 in coverage
Up to $250,000 in coverage with PIP medical exclusions for a named insured (or household members) with non-Medicare health coverage that includes coverage for auto accident injuries
Up to $50,000 in coverage is available if the named insured has Medicaid and their household members have another form of insurance that will cover auto accident injuries.
PIP medical opt-out is available if the named insured has Medicare (Parts A and B) and all household members have another insurance policy that will cover auto accident injuries.
If a PIP medical option is not chosen by the insured, the unlimited PIP medical option is selected by default.
At-fault states where personal injury protection is required
While most at-fault states don’t require drivers to buy PIP coverage, there are two at-fault states that do:
At-fault states where personal injury protection is offered but not required
In at-fault states, the driver who’s at-fault in an accident pays for the injuries they caused. But there are some at-fault states where getting PIP coverage is still an option (though not required). Those are: