In Texas, the only required coverage on your vehicle is for liability. This is insurance that will pay for damages you may cause to other people or their property if you cause an auto accident.
Many people have an additional type of coverage called Personal Injury Protection, or “PIP" for short. As a personal injury attorney having practiced in Houston for almost 20 years, I highly recommend that everyone have this coverage on their automobile insurance policy. It is not expensive for minimum coverage of $2,500.00, and not that much more to increase this coverage even higher.
PIP coverage will pay for your medical expenses and 80% of your lost wages in the event you are injured in a car accident, regardless of who was at fault. PIP will cover you and anyone traveling with you in your vehicle at the time of the collision.
I am surprised by the number of clients I represent who do not want to file a claim with their own insurance company for PIP benefits. In fact, I would say that more than half of the people in Houston I represent at least express reservations about doing so. The most common reason people do not want to file is that they are afraid that their insurance rates will go up or that their insurance will be canceled even though they were not at fault. This, despite the fact that they have paid their hard earned dollars for this optional coverage which is designed to be used in their exact situation! As I explain to people, it’s a bit like installing a phone line in your house but not wanting to make any phone calls because you’re afraid the phone company will cancel your service.
Remember, when an insurance company decides to raise rates or cancel service, they are much more interested in the potential risk that an insured represents than any other factor. Put simply, if you go around driving recklessly and causing accidents by your conduct, the insurance company most likely will raise your rates or decline to renew your policy. But really, it doesn’t make any sense to cancel a policy holder who makes a PIP claim when someone else causes an accident. Wouldn’t that be a bit like penalizing you because a meteor fell from the sky and smashed through the hood of your car?
In my opinion, everyone in Texas, and particularly in big cities like Houston should have at least minimum PIP coverage and more importantly, should never be afraid to use it when appropriate! If you have any questions about PIP coverage, ask your insurance agent or an experienced auto accident lawyer.