Personal injury protection (PIP) Coverage (AKA no-fault insurance)
Last updated: August 2022
If you've been injured in an auto accident, personal injury protection may help pay for medical bills, hospital bills and costs not covered by your health insurance company.
What is PIP coverage/no-fault insurance?
Personal injury protection, also known as PIP coverage or no-fault insurance, covers medical expenses regardless of who's at fault. It can often include lost wages, too. Depending on the state where you live, PIP may be required or it may be available but not required. This coverage could help even if you’re not in your car. Say you’re injured by a car while walking or riding your bike, even riding in someone else’s car — depending on the state, PIP may have you covered up to the limits you choose.
PIP is required in many states. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), in the 1970s, many states passed legislation to introduce "no-fault" auto insurance with the goal of simplifying the process of determining which driver is responsible for an accident.
What personal injury protection covers?
Personal injury protection covers your medical expenses, regardless of who was at fault for an accident. In some states, it's called "no fault" coverage, because it could help cover your treatment, even if you're at fault or there were no other drivers involved in the accident.
PIP personal injury protection can cover:
- Medical expenses: PIP can cover medical and surgical treatment, dental and optometric treatment, ambulance and nursing services, medication, medical supplies and prosthetic devices.
- Lost wages (in some cases): If you are unable to work due to accident-related injuries, PIP could help you recover lost wages.
- Substitute services (in some cases): If accident-related injuries keep you or those covered from performing household tasks, like cleaning, PIP could help pay for substitute services, like a cleaning crew.
- Funeral expenses (in some cases): If accident-related injuries result in death, PIP could help pay for funeral expenses.
What is not covered by no-fault insurance/PIP coverage?
No fault insurance does not cover bills or payments that are not related to personal injuries after a car accident. For example:
- No-fault insurance does not cover damage to your vehicle, unless you live in Delaware.
Collision coverage (if you've added it to your policy) helps pay to repair your car if it's damaged in a crash with another vehicle.
- No-fault insurance does not cover vehicle theft.
Comprehensive coverage (if you've added it to your policy) helps pay to replace your car if it's stolen.
- No-fault insurance does not cover damage to other people's property.
If you're responsible for a car accident, your property damage liability coverage helps pay for damage you cause to another person's car or property (such as a fence or building).
- No-fault insurance does not cover medical expenses that exceed your coverage limits.
Medical bills or lost wages that exceed your coverage limits won't be reimbursed by your PIP insurance. However, Nolo.com says some no-fault insurance states offer an exception. You may be able to file personal-injury lawsuits against other drivers if they're responsible for seriously hurting you or someone else in your car, or if your medical bills exceed a certain dollar limit.
Setting the limits of your personal injury protection
If you and the family members in your household already have health insurance with excellent post-accident benefits, the lowest legally required PIP limits may be sufficient. If you'd like the additional protection that PIP can provide, like lost wages and substitute services expenses, you can always increase your limits to meet your specific needs.
If you and your family members don't have health insurance or have a plan that doesn't offer all the benefits of PIP, it might be in your best interest to get as much PIP coverage as you can comfortably afford. Consider the financial impact of an injury-causing car accident when deciding your PIP limits.
How personal injury protection differs from bodily injury liability
PIP helps cover your medical expenses, regardless of who was at fault for an accident. It can cover things like ambulance bills, emergency room charges, follow-up medical visits, lost wages, prescriptions, and transit to and from your appointments.
Liability coverage for bodily injury helps pay medical costs for someone else if you're at fault for injuring them in an accident. If you drive, you need this protection; nearly every state requires drivers to carry bodily injury liability insurance.
States where PIP is required
The following states require drivers to cover their own injuries and damages that result from an accident:
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Dakota
- Puerto Rico
States where PIP is available but not required
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- South Dakota
How does personal injury protection/no-fault insurance claims work?
In states without no-fault coverage, typical insurance claims may be paid out as follows:
- If you're injured in an accident caused by another driver:
The at-fault driver's bodily injury liability coverage may help reimburse your medical expenses, up to the policy limits.
- If you're injured in an accident you cause:
Your medical payments coverage (if you've opted for it) may help reimburse you for your medical expenses, up to the limits you selected.
Adding or adjusting your PIP coverage
Contact your insurance company to adjust your PIP coverage.
Learn more about personal injury protection