Personal Injury Protection, known as PIP, is a form of auto insurance designed to cover the cost of medical treatment for injured drivers and passengers, regardless of who is at fault. Along with your medical bills, PIP will also pay for lost wages. Unfortunately, medical bills can accumulate fast when involved in an automobile accident. If your coverage runs out and you are still in need of treatment, there are ways to get the care you need.
About PIP Coverage
PIP coverage is mandatory in some states, but not all. As of October 2013, states that require PIP include Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas and Utah. The minimum amount of PIP coverage ranges depending on the state. In the remaining states, PIP is optional.
Understand Your Coverage
Since the maximum amount of PIP coverage available is generally no more than $25,000, your medical bills can easily exceed that amount if you are in a severe accident. In some states, the average policy is only $10,000 in coverage. Familiarize yourself with your state laws regarding how long you have to use the benefit amount. Generally, benefits must be used within one to three years from the date of the accident. Even if you have not reached the maximum coverage limit, your insurance can stop paying when benefits expire. Keep records to indicate how much has actually been paid out under your PIP policy. Before your benefits run out of expire, contact your health insurance company to determine what services are covered and how to submit claims for reimbursement. If you do not have health insurance, you might want to see if you can obtain coverage right away.
Use Your Health Insurance
Once you have exhausted your PIP benefits, your health insurance company will take over and begin paying. Unfortunately, you will likely have co-pays, deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses. If you are disabled as a result of the accident, you may qualify for Medicare coverage. For someone with limited resources and income, Medicaid might be an option. Even with existing health care coverage, you might qualify for Medicaid as a secondary form of insurance to cover expenses that your insurance will not.
Contact an Attorney
If you do not have health insurance and do not qualify for a federal insurance program to help with the costs, consider contacting an attorney. A personal injury attorney can evaluate your case and determine if you have an insurance claim or lawsuit. If you do not have the ability to pay your bills but still need treatment, the attorney can draft a Letter of Protection. The letter contains a request to hold off on sending your medical bills to collection and a promise to pay the debt once you receive a settlement from the insurance company. If you are unable to recover any funds from the insurance company or if you lose the case, you are still liable for paying the medical debt.
Jeannine Mancini, a Florida native, has been writing business and personal finance articles since 2003. Her articles have been published in the Florida Today and Orlando Sentinel. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Central Florida.