If you are in an auto collision, you need to know this!
I am writing this paper because I find many of the practice members in our chiropractic office have a lot of confusion about PIP. PIP is the Personal Injury Protection provision of your auto insurance policy. It is used when a person is injured in an automobile collision, and it pays:
- medical bills for up to 3 years or when the amount on the policy is reached,
- it pays a portion of your lost wages, the larger your PIP coverage, the more it pays,
- and, it even pays for household services if you are too injured to perform them.
Often people do not know who their PIP insurance covers. By definition the policy covers:
- The person named on the insurance and all household members,
- persons who have permission to use that car,
- step children and foster children,
- and non-family passengers and pedestrians.
If you are walking or biking and get hit by a car, then the driver of the car (if he has PIP) who hit you is the primary payor. Your PIP can be used if the driver has no insurance or that driver’s insurance runs out. Your own health insurance can be used once all PIP benefits on both sides run out.
Many people, it turns out, do not even know how PIP coverage ends up on a policy. PIP must be included on your policy unless you have signed a paper declining that coverage. If you are in a collision and your insurance company tells you that you do not have PIP coverage, then you should ask to see the signed copy of your PIP waiver. We have seen cases where that piece of paper has disappeared (or was never signed), and guess what? If the insurance cannot produce it, then you are covered for the minimum $10, 000.
Speaking of the $10,000 minimum, everyone should check into signing for the $35, 000 maximum PIP benefits. This usually ads only a few dollars a month to your bill payment. In the event of a serious injury in an auto collision it can save a person from severe financial hardship. It also raises the amount of lost wages that you can receive from a maximum $2000 to $7000.
Your PIP Rights:
Some of our practice members worry that the insurance company will raise their rates if they use PIP benefits. You are protected by law from this happening. They cannot raise your rates just because you use your PIP benefits. It is also illegal for them to cancel your policy because you used your benefits. Also, be advised that Washington is a no-fault state. This means that your PIP benefits are used, even if the collision is the fault of the other driver.
So what should you do if you are injured in an auto accident? First, bear in mind that it is common following an auto collision to feel worse as the first week moves along. Just because you don’t feel too bad right off the bat does not mean, you will not get worse. So, following an accident follow these steps:
- Call your insurance company to report the collision and verify your PIP coverage amount. If you are told you do not have PIP coverage ask for a copy of the signed form where you declined PIP coverage.
- Get your claim number, along with the address and phone number for the claims office.
- Call and speak to your claims adjuster. Ask him/her to mail a PIP Application, Attending Physician’s Report, and Salary Verification Form to you as soon as possible.
- Complete the PIP Application and return it to your adjuster promptly.
- Give the Attending Physician’s Report to your doctor to complete and return to the adjuster promptly.
- Give the Salary Verification Form to your employer to complete and return to the adjuster if you have missed work due to the collision.
- Give your claim number, adjuster name, address and phone number to all your health care providers.
An auto collision that causes injury is not a reason for panic. Follow the steps outlined in this paper and everything should go smoothly for those who have PIP coverage. If you need assistance along the way we are here to help!
Disclaimer: This article pertains only to policies in Washington State.