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Q

In the state of Washington we have the PIP coverage. I have a hard time with the no fault part of this? I also have bodily injury on my policy. Does PIP only cover myself? If I am at fault in an accident? Or what if I am not at fault? Bodily Injury covers medical as well. It is a bit confusing to understand the difference and know exactly who is covered in this situation. They both pretty much cover the same thing. My main question is when is PIP covered and who gets this coverage?


A

Washington State is NOT a no-fault state, but a tort state. This means that personal injury protection (PIP) coverage is not required. This state does, however, require auto insurance providers to offer PIP coverage that you can either accept or reject. If you want to reject it you must do so in writing or else your insurance company must add the coverage and charge you for it.

Bodily injury liability (BI) is a liability coverage. Any coverage with the word liability pays for the other person if you are at fault. If they have PIP coverage, then PIP pays first and then your bodily injury pays second.

In Washington, PIP insurance coverage is for medical and other expenses, such as wage loss and funeral expenses, which result from an auto accident, no matter who is at fault. PIP covers the person who is named on the policy, the residents of their household who are related by blood, marriage or adoption, and their step or foster children. It also covers non-family passengers and pedestrians involved in the accident.

Basic PIP coverage in Washington provides the following minimum benefits:

  • Up to $10,000 for reasonable and necessary medical expenses for each individual injured in an auto accident. This is available for up to three years from the date of the accident.
  • Up to $200 per week for income replacement coverage. This is limited to one year after a person has been disabled for 14 days after the accident.
  • Up to $2,000 for funeral expenses.
  • Up to $5,000 for loss of services (payment to others for work you can't do).

You can buy higher limits of coverage so to know what your PIP limits are on your specific policy read through your policy and/or ask your agent.

PIP in WA does not cover injuries caused by using:

  • farm equipment
  • recreational or off-road vehicles
  • mopeds
  • motorcycles (PIP coverage is available on motorcycle policies)

It also does not cover intentional injuries to the insured person, or if the person is injured in organized racing activities, or while committing a felony.

Keep in mind in Washington State that if you choose to buy PIP coverage, you must cover all of the vehicles listed on your policy. The more vehicles on your policy, the more you will pay.

Under Washington law, you are required to have a Liability policy with limits of at least 25/50/10. This means:

  • $25,000 for injury to another person
  • $50,000 for injuries to all other persons
  • $10,000 for damage to another's property

These liability coverages in Washington that are required cover bodily injury and damage to property that you cause to others while using your car. So while you have bodily injury liability this covers others that you may cause injure when you are at fault in an accident, not you if you are injured in an auto accident.

Thus, while bodily injury (BI) liability and PIP both cover injuries (medical expenses) they are not duplicate coverages by any means. BI covers others that you injure when you are at-fault in an accident while PIP covers you, members of your residence that are family members, your passengers whether you were at-fault for the motor vehicle accident or not.

If you are not at-fault in an accident you could use your PIP coverages or use the at-fault party's bodily injury liability insurance, if they are properly insured, for your medical bills. Having your own PIP coverage gives you extra protection if you are injured in an accident whether it is your fault or another party's fault.

If you and your family have health insurance, it may pay most of your medical bills, depending on your plan's limits and copayments so you may want to see if PIP coverage is necessary in your specific situation. Some health insurance providers exclude injuries from auto accidents though so before dropping PIP coverages make sure your health provider would cover medical bills stemming from an auto accident. Also, if passengers who do not live with you rarely ride with you, you may not need the added protection of PIP if you are already properly covered.

Auto insurance coverages and terms may be confusing so resources such as our coverage definition page can be helpful to read, as well as our articles, such as Types of Auto Insurance Explained.


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