PIP stands for “Personal Injury Protection.” Strictly speaking, there is no such thing as PIP insurance in California because it is not a “no-fault” auto insurance state. The 12 no-fault states require their drivers to hold PIP insurance. Perhaps the most attractive advantage of PIP is that it pays compensation regardless of whose fault an accident was.
California offers something similar, known as “Med Pay.” The advantages of Med Pay make it a good idea for the average California driver to purchase a policy.
California’s Mandatory Auto Insurance
The California DMV requires drivers with a vehicle registered in California to purchase the following auto insurance:
- $15,000 per person/$30,000 per accident in personal injury liability insurance; and
- $5,000 in property damage liability insurance.
Alternative options, such as cash deposits and self-insurance, are also legal, but not very many people use them.
California’s Optional Auto Insurance
The following optional auto insurance coverage is available in California:
- Comprehensive insurance, which covers damage to your car that did not occur in a traffic accident. That might mean things like storms, theft, or a riot.
- Collision insurance covers damage to your own car caused by you, by another driver, by a pedestrian, or by an object such as a tree or a garbage can.
- Uninsured/Underinsured (UIM) Insurance covers uninsured motorists (16.6% of all California drivers), underinsured motorists, and medical bills from hit-and-run accidents.
- Gap coverage pays the difference between the value of your car at the time of an accident and the amount you still owe in financing.
- Med Pay pays your medical bills after an accident.
Among these, you could classify uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance as “semi-optional” You can refuse coverage, but your refusal must be in writing.
Circumstances That Trigger Med Pay
Med Pay covers you, your immediate family, and passengers in your vehicle. You can file a Med Pay claim if you are injured:
- As a driver,
- As a motorcyclist;
- As a passenger in someone else’s vehicle (including Uber);
- In a pedestrian accident; or
- On public transportation.
A fatal accident also triggers Med Pay liability for funeral expenses.
What Med Pay Covers
Med Pay covers all reasonable and necessary medical expenses, including dental work, prosthetics, medical equipment, and physical/occupational therapy. Unconventional medical treatments such as acupuncture and homeopathy are likely to be rejected.
Advantages of Med Pay
Med Pay is most advantageous to drivers who lack health insurance or who carry health insurance with high deductibles or copays. Following are some of the most popular advantages of Med Pay insurance.
Med Pay Is No-Fault Insurance
Med Pay pays regardless of fault for the accident. That matters greatly because you are penalized for fault when you file a claim against the other driver’s insurance company. Under California’s “pure comparative fault” system, you can lose damages in a personal injury claim even if the accident was mostly the other driver’s fault.
That doesn’t matter with Med Pay -– it pays the same amount whether you were 0% at fault, 100% at fault, or somewhere in between.
Med Pay Compensation Is Quick
Med Pay will probably pay before any of your other insurance policies do, and it will certainly pay faster than the defendant in a personal injury claim.
You Don’t Have To Wait for Reimbursement
Med Pay will pay your bills directly with your healthcare provider. You don’t have to pay your medical bills first and then wait for Med Pay to reimburse you.
You Can Use Med Pay in Hit-and-Run and Uninsured Motorist Accidents
You can use Med Pay as an alternative to UIM insurance.
Limitations on Med Pay Coverage
The major limitations in Med Pay coverage are:
- Lost earnings. You might have to sue the at-fault driver for lost earnings. If the accident was your fault, you might have to pay most or all of your own damages.
- Pain and suffering. Pain and suffering damages are a component of non-economic damages that compensate you for physical pain arising from your injuries. In a personal injury lawsuit, pain and suffering damages could amount to most of the total value of your claim.
- Car repair or replacement; and
- Property damages to fences, gates, and other structures.
Think of Med Pay as strictly supplementary insurance; it is unlikely to cover all of your financial needs after an accident.
Consult a San Diego Personal Injury Lawyer If You’ve Been in an Accident
If you have suffered a serious auto accident, your compensation might come from various sources–your own insurance resources, the defendant’s insurance resources, or even the defendant’s personal assets. Hopefully, little or none of it will come out of your pocket.
An experienced San Diego car accident lawyer at Mission Personal Injury Lawyers can help you put it all together by negotiating a settlement for you and ensuring you receive the full value of your claim.