Almost on a weekly basis, we have come in to see us following a car accident and tell us that they have full medical coverage through their motor vehicle insurance that will pay for all of their care. When we call their insurance, as we do with all car accident patients to find out the details of their claim, it turns out they have no personal injury protection also known as PIP. All to often when we are shopping for car insurance we are looking for the best rate, and in doing so we may be signing up for inadequate coverage. My patients thought they were signing up for full coverage, but in reality were only signing up for liability insurance. This all to often leaves these people between a rock and a hard place, and I have found it is such an easy preventative fix.
Whats the answer? Call up your insurance broker or log on to your online account and make sure you have the full amount of PIP coverage. Washington requires all drivers to have what is called liability insurance at a minimum of $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident, which means that if in an accident they will cover any damages that you created. Washington law requires that the insurance company offer PIP, but it is not mandatory that everyone have it. If you decline signing up for PIP you must either put it in writing, or sign electronically. The majority of the time this is where most get into trouble, in that they are purchasing insurance online, and the box that you must check to decline PIP blends in with all of the other box's that you are checking.
Personal injury protection pays for any and all medical expense, in some cases even pays for wage loss, loss of essential services like house cleaning, and even funeral benefits. In Washington the minimum amount that you can have is $10,000 and you can buy up to $35,000 worth of coverage. You can see that the difference between having $10,000 worth of essential medical care and potential not having anything can be devastating.
Another reason that some decline getting PIP coverage is that someone told them that their health insurance covers all medical treatment if one is injured in a car accident. While this may be true, it is not the best advise. General insurance typically is bound by deductables that you will have to meet before they will start to pay, capped visit amounts and restrictions on what they may and may not cover, where PIP does not typically have these same restrictions.
I have seen far too much heart ache come from inadequate or no insurance and I would hate for you to be stuck in this same predicament. A great place to go to get a better understanding of what your insurance coverage is, is the Washington State Insurance Commissioner. You can find their common sense, easy to understand website at www.insurance.wa.gov. If you have any other questions we would be thrilled to be able to help in any way that we can. Please call Bellevue Whiplash Center at Back in Action Chiropractic at 425-635-0495 today.
photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/34236324@N05/6553972931">HB 203 & 204 Commodore SS</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">(license)</a>
Dr. Michael Weir is the clinic director at Bellevue Whiplash Center at Back in Action Chiropractic. We will also be hosting a variety of relevant guest bloggers to help you understand your injuries better.