Key takeaways

  • Pennsylvania is a “choice no-fault” state that requires drivers to carry first-party benefits coverage, otherwise known as personal injury protection (PIP).
  • Pennsylvania drivers are legally required to carry a minimum of $5,000 of medical benefits coverage to comply with the state's minimum car insurance coverage laws.
  • Adding optional PIP coverage in Pennsylvania can provide payments towards medical-related expenses — including lost wages, disability and rehab costs — and death benefits.
  • PIP coverage does not pay for any damage to a vehicle or property.

Personal injury protection in Pennsylvania is a standard type of medical coverage offered on car insurance policies in no-fault states.To meet the state’s auto insurance requirement, Pennsylvania drivers must carry at least $5,000 in First Party Benefits (FPB) coverage, which is commonly known as personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, however there are several options for more enhanced coverage. Bankrate’s insurance editorial team explains the nuances of coverage selection on your Pennsylvania auto insurance policy, whom PIP covers and how it works to help you determine which option best meets your financial needs.

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What is PIP insurance?

Depending on your coverage selection, PIP coverage in Pennsylvania can help cover medical payments, lost wages and funeral expenses should you be involved in an accident, regardless of fault. Since Pennsylvania is a no-fault state, PIP also provides coverage to your passengers and resident family members injured in someone else’s vehicle or as a pedestrian.

Pennsylvania policyholders won’t see the term “personal injury protection” in their policy paperwork. Instead, they will see the terms First Party Benefits, Optional First Party Benefits and medical expense benefits to describe what is traditionally called PIP coverage.

How does Pennsylvania PIP work?

The state of Pennsylvania requires insurers to offer medical expense benefit insurance up to at least $100,000. However, policyholders can choose the minimum $5,000 option by completing a coverage selection form. If you carry the minimum requirement and are involved in an accident, you can only claim up to $5,000 for medical payments coverage on your policy. The $5,000 minimum of medical payments does not include lost wages coverage.

Medical expense coverage may be available at a limit above $100,000 depending on your insurance provider. In addition, you could add one or a combination of the following Optional First Party Benefits in varying limits:

  • Income loss benefit: This option will help cover lost salary if you are unable to work following an approved claim. In most cases, you will be covered for 80 percent of your gross income, up to the limits of your policy.
  • Funeral expense benefit: Provides payment toward reasonable and necessary expenses for funeral or cremation costs.
  • Accidental death benefit: With this benefit, if a person who is involved in an accident dies within 24 months of the accident due to injuries sustained, their beneficiary will receive a payment.
  • Extraordinary medical benefits coverage limits option: This option provides more robust coverage, by offering an amount above the maximum that is usually paid out in a claim, which is $100,000. Typically this coverage has a lifetime limit of $1 million.

Is PIP required in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania requires some form of medical benefits coverage for you and your passengers up to $5,000. This pays towards medical bills for you, your passengers or any others covered by your policy — regardless of who is at fault for the accident — up to the $5,000 limit. Many people consider Pennsylvania a PIP insurance state due to this requirement.

Pennsylvania requires other minimum coverage types for drivers, in addition to the medical benefits. This includes:

  • $15,000 bodily injury liability per person
  • $30,000 bodily injury liability per accident
  • $5,000 property damage liability per accident

Whether carrying PIP coverage or the liability minimums, it is important to remember only purchasing the minimum coverage is more likely to result in a higher risk of out-of-pocket expenses. For instance, if you purchase the $5,000 in medical benefits coverage, this may not be enough to cover expenses for multiple injuries for you and your passengers. Additionally, purchasing the minimum would not provide any additional financial protection if you are out of work due to the injuries sustained.

While drivers looking for cheap Pennsylvania car insurance may want to select limited tort since it tends to reduce the premium drastically, it may be beneficial to speak with a licensed agent before doing so.

How much does PIP cost in Pennsylvania?

The 2024 average cost of car insurance in Pennsylvania is $521 annually for minimum coverage and $2,790 per year for full coverage car insurance. Like any other coverage you select for an auto insurance policy, the amount PIP costs is dependent on how much you purchase. While $5,000 of medical payments is the minimum required, you can increase this amount.

Auto insurance rates, including the coverage options, are determined by a number of factors. These factors include your age, ZIP code, vehicle, driving history and several other personal factors. If you are interested in adding higher PIP coverage amounts to your policy, you can work with a licensed insurance agent to understand the options and rates.

Frequently asked questions

    • They are similar, but not exactly the same. Both cover medical expenses for you and your passengers following an accident, without consideration of who was at fault. PIP is usually a more comprehensive type of insurance, however, since it may also cover funeral expenses, lost wages and a death benefit. Medical payments, as the name suggests, covers only costs related to medical care for an injury sustained in the accident. MedPay usually has a lower claim limit than PIP, as well.
    • Tort is a legal term describing a wrongful act that causes harm or damage to a person or property. Most states are considered tort states, meaning the at-fault party generally pays for the economic and non-economic losses of the other driver and passengers. In no-fault states, each driver must carry PIP coverage to handle the initial payments towards economic damage, but have limited tort coverage, meaning they cannot sue for pain and suffering or economic losses. There are some exceptions if the loss meets a certain threshold, which differs in every state.The three “choice no-fault” states — Pennsylvania, Kentucky and New Jersey — allow policyholders to select limited or full tort coverage on their auto insurance policies. Pennsylvania issues all auto policies as full-tort policies, allowing policyholders to retain the right to sue. Drivers wanting to decline this option must complete a coverage selection form opting for limited tort.
    • How a PIP claim is filed can depend on where you are when you file it. If you are taken from the accident site to the hospital or doctor’s office, a medical professional will ask if you have been involved in a car accident. At that time, they usually collect your auto insurance and any other relevant medical insurance information to start the claims process on your behalf. Since PIP is a first-party benefit, your auto insurance will make the initial payment toward your medical bills, depending on your coverage limit and state laws.Injuries aren’t always apparent immediately and it may be the case that drivers have already filed a claim for vehicle damage with their insurance company. You can always contact your claims agent to verify what would be covered by your car insurance before heading to the doctor; your agent can make adjustments to the claim post-filing.