Today, we’re going to walk you through one important term you really ought to understand: Personal Injury Protection insurance, or PIP.
It’s a big subject because PIP works a little differently depending on the state you live in. First, we’ll explain how PIP works in states that require it. Then we’ll explain how PIP works in a state like Nebraska, where it’s optional but not mandatory.
What Is Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Insurance in a No-Fault Insurance State?
A handful of states follow a system called no-fault car insurance. After a car crash in one of those states, each injured party must turn to his or her own auto insurance provider to claim compensation for any personal injury damages (e.g. medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, etc.).
In other words, in a no-fault car insurance state, your own car insurance carrier is responsible for your compensation, regardless of who caused the crash.
These states typically require every driver to carry a special kind of insurance called Personal Injury Protection (PIP), which pays for each policyholder’s respective personal injury damages. This allows drivers to decide for themselves how much coverage they want to have if they get injured in an accident.
There are advantages and disadvantages associated with no-fault car insurance systems. Sadly, if you’re an auto accident victim who didn’t cause the crash, you might have a harder time getting the comprehensive justice you deserve in these states. That’s because, in many cases, your recovery would be entirely limited to your own PIP coverage. (Rules vary from state to state, but generally speaking, filing a lawsuit directly against the at-fault party is only allowed in certain circumstances.)
What Is Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Insurance in Nebraska? How Is It Different from MedPay?
Nebraska is not a no-fault car insurance state. Rather, in Nebraska, the party who causes the crash is responsible for all the damages. If you’re the injured party, you can seek a claim directly against the at-fault driver and their insurance policy.
You might wonder, then, how Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance works in a state like Nebraska, where PIP isn’t required.
In Nebraska, Personal Injury Protection is an optional coverage that motorists can add on to their existing car insurance policy for extra protection. It is similar to the more traditional Medical Payments Coverage option, i.e. “MedPay” (which is also available as an option from many of Nebraska’s auto insurance providers).
Like MedPay, a PIP policy in Nebraska will kick in to pay your medical bills while you wait for your claim against the at-fault driver to resolve. This is important because car insurance claims sometimes take many months or years to resolve, but your medical care providers will expect you to pay them in the meantime. A MedPay or PIP policy can cover those bills in the interim. (Or, if you’re turning those bills in to your health insurance, your MedPay or PIP policy can reimburse you for your copays and/or deductibles.)
Unlike MedPay, PIP will also cover some other non-medical damages, such as lost wages, certain home care expenses, and so on. (Be sure to check your particular PIP policy to understand exactly what is and isn’t covered.)
Personal Injury Protection will also kick in to cover injury to passengers and pedestrians. This is important because these parties may have extremely costly damages — even in a relatively moderate accident. PIP will cover reasonable and necessary medical expenses in those cases, subject to policy limits.
Should You Buy Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Insurance in Nebraska?
At a very minimum, we encourage all drivers in Nebraska to consider adding MedPay coverage to their existing car insurance policy. For even greater protection, consider adding PIP.
Even if you have health insurance, these optional coverages can be extremely beneficial in helping you cover your out-of-pocket medical costs while waiting for your car accident claim to resolve. They can also help your passengers cover the critical medical care they need, as well as protect you in the event that you are liable for a passenger or pedestrian’s damages.
MedPay coverage is often available for just a few extra dollars a month. PIP coverage may be available for a few dollars beyond that.
Be Sure You Understand What Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Insurance Means Under Your Policy
Just as the rules for Personal Injury Protection vary from state to state, the specifics of coverage may also vary from one insurance provider or policy to the next. PIP policies are frequently subject to numerous limitations. It’s important that you understand those limitations, as well as the precise differences between MedPay and PIP as defined by your carrier (in the event both those coverages are available as options).
Car insurance coverages are complex. Be sure to review your options thoroughly with your provider. When in doubt, talk to a lawyer in your jurisdiction.
Schedule a Free Case Review with an Omaha Car Accident Attorney
Have you been injured in an auto accident in Nebraska? Let us help you understand your rights and options under both your insurance policy and state personal injury law.
At Hauptman, O’Brien, Wolf & Lathrop, P.C., we offer confidential, cost-free, no-obligation case reviews for people who have suffered an auto accident injury in Omaha or elsewhere in Nebraska.
If you hire us, we will not charge a fee unless we are able to recover compensation for you.