Auto Insurance Policies 101: Medical Insurance & Personal Injury Protection

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Auto Insurance Medical covers costs for immediate treatment of injuries caused by a car accident. You, your family members and other passengers in your vehicle are covered, no matter who is at fault. Depending on the policy terms, medical payments coverage may also cover lost wages and other services for a person injured in the car accident.

Personal Injury Protection, (PIP)is similar to medical payments coverage, but usually provides broader coverage. Many PIP policies provide compensation for lost wages, funeral expenses, and pain and suffering. Most states that require personals injury protection are “no fault” auto insurance states, however Maryland, Delaware, and Oregon also require PIP as no fault medical coverage even though the rest of the auto insurance in these states are not standard no fault coverages.

Some people argue the overall value of having Auto Medical and PIP coverage based on the fact that having good health insurance should mean they don’t need medical coverage or PIP. The thinking is that good health policy will pay for treatment of injuries from a car accident, and it will probably cover more than a auto medical or PIP policy would.

This may be true in some states, but not in all states. For example, in Oregon when you visit a doctor or hospital for an injury two key questions will be asked: Did this injury happen while you were working, or in an auto accident? If the injury was work related the state insurance laws would require the employer’s workers compensation policy to pay for the medical treatment and if it was an auto accident the owner of the car would have no fault PIP medical coverage as required under the state insurance laws.

In some cases, a health plan could deny coverage if the injuries resulted from an auto accident, based on the fact all cars must carry the state minimum auto insurance liability which in many states includes medical or PIP. Other states may not require medical coverage as a part of the auto insurance policy therefore, these coverages may be considered optional.

I personally, feel regardless of the states requirements it is wise to carry some amount of medical or PIP insurance. While the argument may be valid that in many cases your personal health insurance policy will cover your injuries, what about the kids in the car pool or you elderly neighbor you offer to help take shopping?

Not all families have good health insurance and short of asking everyone who ever rides in your car if they do, having the added protection of medical or PIP coverage will protect an insured driver from greater liability issues should a passenger in their car be hurt during an auto accident. It also means that injuries which may be somewhat minor at the time of an accident can be medically treated avoiding the risk of the injury being worse then it appeared.

In the event of an accident your auto medical or PIP coverage may serve as “good faith” should a passenger in your car be hurt. Quick and easy medical access could prevent a larger liability claim simply because you are able to offer instant medical attention to a passenger who will not be required to submit a claim on their own health insurance policy.

To me the argument about having a great health insurance policy is only as valuable as the health insurance anyone who ever rides in my car might have. I would much rather continue to pay a few extra dollars on my auto insurance and have the peace of mind knowing that I don’t have to screen everyone who rides in my car about the type of health insurance they may have.

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