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Car insurance and no-fault benefits



Car insurance and no-fault benefits

In No-Fault states if you are in an accident and receive bodily injuries it is your own car insurance that will cover your injuries and medical bills. This no-fault insurance coverage is usually termed Personal Injury Protection or PIP. Currently 12 states and Puerto Rico have passed laws requiring vehicle owners to have no-fault coverage (PIP) as part of their state mandated minimum automobile insurance coverage.

As the Insurance Information Institute (III) notes Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania have verbal thresholds with their no-fault insurance. The other no-fault seven states-Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Dakota and Utah-use a monetary threshold. Three states have a "choice" no-fault law. In New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Kentucky, motorists may reject the lawsuit threshold and retain the right to sue for any auto-related injury.

Under no-fault laws, motorists may sue for severe injuries and for pain and suffering only if the case meets certain conditions. These conditions relate to the severity of injury and are referred to as thresholds. There is a verbal threshold which may be expressed in verbal terms or a monetary threshold expressed in dollar amounts of medical bills. Because of high threshold levels no-fault systems restrict litigation which tends to reduce costs and delays in claims being paid out. Verbal thresholds eliminate the incentive to inflate claims that may exist when there is a dollar amount to reach for medical expenses as with a monetary threshold.

If you have been in an automobile accident the first course of action, whether you have bodily injuries or not, is to contact the police to make a report. The next step is to contact your insurance company to report the accident. Your insurance provider should then be able to walk you through the steps of making a claim. If you have injuries and need to place a claim against your PIP coverage, this can be done at this point as well.

If you are unsure of what your Personal Injury Protection policy covers, ask your agent to explain the benefits and which will be of use to you under your current situation. Benefits typically can include payment for loss of wages, medical expenses, replacement services and other economical damages you might have suffered due to the accident.

Medical expenses that will be covered by No Fault are those medical expenses that are reasonable and necessary are covered. The state's statutes in which you reside usually regulate what is deemed reasonable and necessary. This definition usually excludes experimental treatments or alternative/holistic treatments. Your state's insurance regulator can also tell you about your PIP benefits and consumer rights.

In Minnesota their statutes include as medically necessary the following items: medical, surgical, x-ray, optical, dental, chiropractic, and rehabilitative services, including prosthetic devices. Also allowable by MN statutes are prescription drugs, ambulance or other transportation expenses incurred in traveling to receive other covered medical expense benefits.

The state of Minnesota's PIP system demands that before any wage loss claim will be paid by your insurance provider that a doctor's disability note must be presented to your PIP insurance adjuster in order for you to receive wage loss benefits and that proof of wage loss from your employer on a form available from your insurance adjuster.

In Florida their no-fault (PIP) coverage includes payment for 80 percent of medically necessary expenses, 60 percent of lost wages, 100 percent of replacement services such as child care, housekeeping or yard work, and $5,000 for death benefits. Florida also allows that for a higher premium you may amend your personal injury protection coverage to increase medical expenses to 100 percent and lost wages to 80 percent or increase your minimum limits from $10,000 to $20,000 or more.

There are other states, such as Washington, that do not require PIP but have it as an option that a driver can carry as part of their insurance coverage. In Washington State Personal Injury Protection if you choose this optional coverage it pays for medical and other expenses resulting from an auto accident, for people specified in the policy, regardless of who is at fault.

While this coverage is not required in Washington, it is mandatory that it is offered to car insurance buyers and must be rejected in writing if the car owner does not want to add the coverage. In a Washington PIP policy the named insurer and residents of that person's household related by blood, marriage or adoption are covered for injuries incurred in an accident. Also passengers of the named insurer's vehicle and pedestrians are covered.

In Washington, just as Minnesota and Florida, PIP covers reasonable and necessary medical expenses for injuries sustained in an automobile accident, up to three years from the date of the accident and up to the $10,000 limit. Other benefits of PIP in Washington State include income replacement (maximum of $200 per week for 1 year, after a person has been disabled for 14 days after the accident), funeral expenses of $2000 and loss of services of up to $5000.

Whether your state requires you to carry Personal Injury Protection (no-fault) insurance coverage or not you will want to be informed of this coverage and what benefits you may receive from it. Find out from your insurance agent, or your state's insurance regulatory body (Department of Insurance) who and what is covered by a PIP policy and if there is different coverage options you may want to include for better protection of you and your family.

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