An Explanation Of Personal Injury Protection Insurance
By: Attorney Michael L. Walker
Recently there has been a lot of attention concerning automobile insurance and, specifically, Personal Injury Protection Coverage also known as “No-Fault" coverage. Many people who have Personal Injury Protection (or PIP) coverage don’t know what it is. Currently if you have Florida automobile insurance you are required to carry PIP.
I often describe PIP as a health insurance policy attached to your car insurance though it does also cover loss of income, mileage reimbursement for trips to the doctor and death benefits. As far as providing health care benefits, PIP can be used for any medical treatment for injuries from an automobile accident.
Not all states mandate policyholders to carry PIP. States that do mandate vary in the dollar amount of coverage. Florida requires a minimum of $10,000 PIP coverage. This is the minimum. Some insurers allow for the purchase of more or to purchase a closely related coverage called Medical Payments Coverage (or Med Pay). Med Pay is not required by law. The only other required coverage is Property Damage Liability (or PD coverage) which covers you for damage you do to other people’s property. Even if you are at fault in an accident, you are still entitled to use your PIP (or your Med Pay coverage). That is where the phrase “No-Fault" comes from.
There has been a lot of publicity over the legislation changes to the PIP laws in Florida. The changes from this year’s legislation are set to take place January 1, 2013. The new changes still require policy holders to obtain $10,000 in PIP coverage for medical purposes, but the new legislation (HB 119) only allows for $2,500 to initially be disbursed if the initial treatment is obtained within 14 days of the accident and then the treatment is limited to the conditions initially diagnosed. In order to obtain the additional $7,500 in coverage (or the $10,000 total) the policy holder needs proof of an “Emergency Medical Condition" from a healthcare provider. The stated purpose of these changes to the PIP law are to lower insurance premiums and prevent fraud. There is much controversy over whether this will happen or whether the changes were simply to benefit the bottom line of the insurance companies. Time will tell.