Washington's state laws regarding personal injury protection (PIP) on auto insurance may seem confusing. Although PIP is a no-fault medical coverage, meaning it provides medical and other benefits regardless of who is at fault for the accident, Washington is not considered a no-fault state. Despite this, the law does specify what the coverage must provide, who it covers and how it fits into your auto insurance policy.
Personal Injury Protection
PIP is a coverage that allows you to claim against your own insurance company to pay for injuries after an accident, regardless of who is at fault. It provides medical benefits as well as lost wages and even death benefits if the circumstance requires it. As of February 2011, Washington requires PIP to provide certain minimum benefits, including $10,000 for reasonable and necessary medical costs for up to three years following an accident. It also includes up to $200 per week for lost wages, after a 14-day deductible with a maximum one-year benefit. You can buy higher limits for additional premiums.
Who It Covers
PIP has a broad definition in Washington. You can claim your own injuries with your PIP coverage, but it also applies to those who live in your home and are related by blood, marriage or adoption. This includes step- and foster children. It applies to some non-family members as well, including passengers and even pedestrians involved in the accident. If you frequently carpool or have a large family, PIP might be a good idea for you.
PIP is not required by law in Washington. It is an optional coverage, and you are permitted to drive your vehicle without it. However, your agent must offer it to you when you select your policy, and you must either buy it or reject it in writing. If you do not complete a written rejection form, your agent must include this coverage on your policy and will charge you for it. PIP requires additional premiums and will raise the cost of your policy.
PIP follows individuals, not cars, and is not vehicle specific. Nonetheless, you will not be able to collect PIP under certain circumstances. PIP coverage generally excludes injuries caused by using farm equipment, recreational or off-road vehicles, mopeds and motorcycles, though you may be able to buy motorcycle PIP separately. Your insurer may also deny coverage if you caused injury intentionally, during an organized race or while committing a felony.
Stephen Hicks has been writing professionally since 2000. He recently published his first novel, "The Seventh Day of Christmas." He spent three years as a licensed life and property/casualty insurance agent in California. Hicks holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in cinema studies from New York University.