Personal injury protection, or PIP insurance, is a coverage that can help pay for expenses if you are injured in an accident. Washington car insurance companies are required to offer PIP to you, but you can decline the coverage in writing if you do not want it. However, PIP insurance may make it a good choice for some drivers. With PIP coverage, Washington drivers may be better able to pay for medical and hospital expenses, loss of services, lost wages and funeral expenses resulting from a car accident, regardless of who was at fault.
What is PIP insurance?
PIP insurance is coverage you can purchase to cover expenses for injuries and related costs from a car accident, regardless of who was at fault. While liability insurance is a requirement in Washington, some coverage types are optional. PIP is one such coverage; the state requires that all auto insurance providers offer you at least $10,000 in coverage, but you do not have to purchase it. You can decline PIP in writing.
PIP can be added along with other coverage types, like comprehensive and collision insurance. These coverage offerings pay for physical damage to your car. Collision pays for damages to your car resulting from colliding with something, while comprehensive pays for vandalism, theft of the car, broken glass, weather events and hitting an animal. Other coverage options are also available, including roadside assistance coverage and car rental coverage, depending on the company you choose.
How does Washington PIP work?
PIP insurance is designed to pay up to the policy limit for certain qualifying expenses if you are injured in a car accident. Fault does not matter, and you can be a driver, passenger, pedestrian or bicyclist and still access PIP benefits.
In Washington, the PIP option can provide coverage for these expenses:
- Medical and hospital expenses: up to $35,000
- Funeral expense: up to $2,000 per person
- Loss of services: up to $14,600 with a $200 per week maximum (if disabled for at least 14 days)
- Wage loss: up to $35,000 with $700 per week maximum (if disabled for at least 14 days)
Imagine that you have PIP on your policy and you, your spouse and a friend are involved in an accident with injuries. You have $5,000 in medical bills, your spouse has $2,500 and your friend has $6,000. If you, your spouse or the friend are unable to work for more than 14 days in a row, your PIP coverage could help pay for your lost wages. Additionally, if you can’t perform household services for more than 14 days in a row, PIP could help you hire assistance, like someone to mow the lawn or clean the house.
Is PIP required in Washington?
In Washington state, you are not required by law to purchase PIP insurance, though the insurance company must offer you coverage. In no-fault states, both drivers are required to initially pay for their own injuries, so PIP is often mandatory. Washington is an at-fault, or tort, state, where fault is assigned in an accident and the at-fault party is responsible for the injuries and property damage they cause. However, you can elect to add PIP to your policy to access its benefits.
If you choose not to buy PIP insurance, you can opt out, but you must do so in writing to your insurance company. If you do not put your wish to waive PIP in writing, the insurance company is required to place the minimum PIP coverage on your policy. The minimum coverage for PIP in Washington is $10,000.
Keep in mind that PIP extends benefits beyond just medical care and can help pay for household services that you cannot complete if you are injured due to a disability lasting at least 14 days. Although some drivers may decline PIP if they have health insurance, the optional coverage could still be worthwhile. Review your situation with an agent to determine if PIP is right for you.
How much does PIP cost in Washington?
The cost for PIP insurance in Washington depends on several factors, including how much coverage you purchase, how many cars you have insured and the insurance company you choose.
PIP benefits offer financial protection if you are injured in a car accident to pay for medical bills, and if you are disabled for at least 14 days, it can help cover lost wages and services paid to a non-family member for household work you can no longer do, like childcare and house cleaning. Even if you have good health insurance benefits, you may not have coverage for things like funeral expenses and home services like you would with PIP insurance. So even though PIP may add a bit of premium to your policy, it could save you money if you are injured in an accident.
Key things to note about PIP insurance in Washington
- You are not required to purchase PIP insurance in Washington, but all insurance companies are required to offer it on every quote.
- If you choose not to purchase PIP insurance in Washington, you must decline it in writing or it will be added automatically to your insurance policy.
- You can purchase up to $35,000 in benefits for medical and hospital expenses and lost wages, with a maximum of $700 per week in coverage. The lost wages coverage will only kick in if you are out of work for more than 14 consecutive days.
- Loss of services benefits can be added with a total benefit up to $14,600, with a maximum of $200 per week, but will only pay out if you are unable to manage these services on your own for more than 14 consecutive days.
Frequently asked questions
How and when do I file a PIP claim?
If you are injured in a car accident, and if you have PIP coverage on your policy, you can file a claim for PIP on your own insurance policy. If you were a bicyclist or pedestrian hit by a vehicle, the at-fault driver’s PIP coverage may cover your injuries as well. However, because PIP is optional in Washington, the at-fault driver may also cover your injuries through their liability coverage. You can often file a claim through your insurance company’s app or online, or you may need to call an 800 number or your local office. Once filed, you will receive a claim number to track the progress. Submit all medical bills, proof of lost wages and loss of service receipts to the insurance company.
Are PIP and medical payments the same?
Medical payments insurance provides coverage for medical costs incurred in an auto accident, but PIP is a bit more broad. PIP also includes coverage for medical expenses, but also offers coverage for wage loss, funeral expenses and loss of services. In some states, both coverage types are available, but usually you’ll only be able to purchase one or the other.