What Does Personal Injury Protection Mean?

Personal injury protection, also known as no-fault insurance, is a feature of automobile insurance that covers the health care expenses associated with treating injuries sustained in a car accident.

Personal injury protection covers medical expenses for policyholders and their passengers who are hurt in auto accidents covered, even if some don’t have health insurance. If the cost of necessary medical care exceeds the auto insurance policy’s personal injury protection limits, health insurance sometimes covers further expenses. Policies have a per-person maximum, meaning that coverage limited to a certain amount per person if numerous people are injured in an accident.

Understanding Personal Injury Protection (PIP)

Personal injury protection is not required in every state. Generally, auto insurance requirements and features differ from state to state. Personal injury protection is available primarily in no-fault states, meaning that if the policyholder is injured in a car crash, and the accident itself is covered by the policy, then that insurance policy pays for the holder’s medical care regardless of whether the policyholder caused the accident.

Policyholders receive coverage even if the other driver doesn’t have insurance, as long as their respective policies include personal injury protection. This type of coverage, in addition to making medical care affordable, often provides payments for lost income, child care and funeral expenses related to the accident. Normally, an auto policy’s medical payments coverage does not pay for these types of costs. Some no-fault states offer medical payments coverage, but it typically has low limits. 

Personal Injury Protection by State

Personal injury protection is required in Washington, D.C., Florida, Massachusetts, New York, Delaware, Hawaii, Kentucky, Kansas, Minnesota, New Jersey, Michigan, North Dakota, Utah, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Puerto Rico. Other states offer personal injury protection as an add-on to basic auto insurance plans. These states include Arkansas, Maryland, Oregon and New Hampshire.

Minimum coverage requirements vary by state. Maximums vary by insurance company, but it's usually no more than $25,000. If a policyholder’s health insurance provides coverage for injuries and rehabilitation related to a car accident, the policyholder probably only needs to purchase the minimum amount of personal injury protection required by their state. Personal injury protection is not a substitute for liability coverage, which most states require and which pays for injuries caused to another party, such as a pedestrian or the driver and occupants of another vehicle.