What is Personal Injury Protection (PIP)?

Below, are answers to frequently asked questions regarding Personal Injury Protection (or “PIP”) in the State of Washington.

What is PIP?

PIP stands for “Personal Injury Protection” and is a type of insurance you can add to your auto insurance policy.

Who is eligible to receive PIP?

If you drive a car, your insurance company must offer you PIP coverage. If you ride a motorcycle, your insurance company may offer you PIP Coverage, but these policies tend to be very expensive.

Is PIP mandatory?

No, PIP coverage is optional in Washington. If you don’t want PIP coverage, you must provide written notice to your insurance company. Otherwise, PIP will be automatically added to your insurance policy.

Who is covered by PIP?

PIP covers: (1) everyone named on the policy; (2) household residents related by blood, marriage, or adoption; (3) step or foster children; (4) non-family passengers; (5) bicyclists; and (6) pedestrians who are injured in the accident.

What can PIP coverage be used for?

PIP coverage can be used to help pay for things like medical bills, lost wages, loss of essential services, and funeral expenses regardless of fault (i.e. whether you caused the accident).

How much does PIP cover?

PIP coverage varies depending on how much coverage you elect to purchase. At a minimum, PIP covers the following:

  • Up to $10,000 for medical bills (for every person involved in the accident);
  • Up to $200 per week for wage loss (with some limitations);
  • Up to $2,000 for funeral expenses; and
  • Up to $5,000 for loss of services (to non-family members).

What can’t PIP coverage be used for?

PIP coverage does not apply to injuries caused by farm equipment, recreational vehicles, off-road vehicles, or mopeds. Additionally, PIP coverage cannot be used if the injury occurred during racing activities, or if the injury occurred during the commission of a felony. Finally, PIP coverage does not apply if the accident was intentionally caused by the insured.

Is there a deductible or co-pay with PIP coverage?

No.

Will using PIP affect my insurance rates?

No, by law your insurance company cannot raise your monthly premiums or cancel your insurance policy for using PIP coverage if you are not at fault for causing the accident. See RCW 46.52.130.

Are there any limitations to using PIP coverage?

PIP coverage is limited to services rendered within three years after the accident occurred. Additionally, all services must be related to the accident. Finally, all services must be deemed “reasonable and necessary” by your insurance company.

How can an attorney help me with PIP coverage?

In a typical personal injury case, there may be several types of insurance coverage available to you. PIP coverage is just one of them, and it is not uncommon for there to be several PIP policies available in a single case. There may be other types of insurance coverage available to you as well. Understanding which insurance coverages are available to you and how they relate is essential to maximizing your recovery in a personal injury case. Hiring an attorney can be helpful for this reason alone. Your attorney can also help make sure your PIP claims are properly submitted to the insurance companies and paid for in a timely fashion. If your PIP benefits are unreasonably denied, your attorney can also assist you with filing a claim under what is known as the Insurance Fair Conduct Act (“IFCA”). If your IFCA claim is successful, the insurance company must pay for your attorney’s fees. Additionally, you will be eligible to recover three times the amount of PIP benefits to which you were originally entitled (referred to as “treble damages”). For additional questions regarding PIP coverage in your personal injury case, contact us today for a free consultation!