MARYLAND PIP COVERAGE
Motor vehicle accidents are very common in Maryland, from Baltimore to the Bay. However, there are insurance coverage options, from your own car insurance, that help to protect you when you are driving. If you are involved in a car accident in Maryland, or anywhere else, you may be able to obtain the benefits of that coverage protection!
One of those protections is called personal injury protection coverage, or PIP.
What is PIP?
Personal Injury Protection coverage, or PIP, is a kind of no-fault coverage available to Maryland drivers. No fault coverage means that it is insurance coverage that you can utilize, whether or not you are at fault for your own accident. In the event of a third party claim, meaning you wish to assert a claim against someone else who has caused an accident and hurt you, under Maryland law, you cannot be even 1% responsible for the accident (called contributory negligence). For PIP coverage, it does not matter who is at fault for the accident - hence, "no-fault."
This coverage is available to help you pay for any medical expenses that you incur for injuries arising out of a car accident. However, in order for PIP to pay these benefits, the treatment has to be directly related to the injuries caused by the accident. Merely because medical treatment happens after an accident, does not mean it is automatically related to the accident.
This car accident does not have to be in Maryland, as long as you have the coverage on your Maryland car insurance policy. If you are involved in a motor vehicle anywhere in the country, you can apply for these benefits under your car insurance policy.
How do I know if I have this coverage?
Under Maryland law, insurance companies have to offer PIP coverage. In fact, it comes as a default on all insurance policies. However, the insurance companies are quick to tell you that you have the option to waive this coverage. This means that you sign a form, or usually push a button to electronically sign, saying that you want to affirmatively elect to waive the coverage.
They do this by telling you that you can save some money on your car insurance. That is true, but it is a very small amount. Sometimes, it is usually as little as $10 per month. Never ever do this! It will hurt you in the long run!
WARNING - insurance brokers sell what coverage they are told to sell, by the car insurance companies that write the policies. Car insurance companies do not make much money on PIP coverage, so they do not push it, or even recommend it. If you waive this coverage, you can be "penny wise and pound foolish." You may save $10.00 a month (or $120.00 a year), but that would take you 20 years to make up for the coverage you would get, if you are involved in a car crash. Think about it: what are yours chances of being involved in a car accident in the DMV in the next 20 years?
You can call your insurance company, or look at a copy of your declaration sheet (this comes with your renewal paperwork. It is usually the first 4-6 pages of the packet). This declaration sheet, sometimes called a declaration page, sets out, line by line, all of the coverage available to you under your insurance policy. Look to where it says PIP, or personal injury protection.
Is waiving the coverage really this harmful?
Potentially, yes. The waiver, if you have signed it, does not only waive the coverage available to you, you are also waiving it on behalf of any passengers you may have in your vehicle!
Also, because PIP can be available to family members who reside with you, if they are in an accident (outside of your car), normally they would be able to get benefits as well through your policy. But if you waive, then they can get nothing.
If I have this coverage, how much do I have?
The standard PIP coverage in Maryland is $2,500. However, you can always get more! You pay a little bit more for it, but you can get as much as you are willing to pay for. Some people get $5,000, other people get $10,000 worth of coverage.
The policy declarations will tell you how much coverage you have. You can usually increase it for a very modest sum, and we always recommend that you make sure that you have PIP coverage on your vehicle
Does using PIP make my car insurance rates go up?
No. This is why it is called no-fault coverage.
What if I have health insurance? Should I still have PIP coverage?
Absolutely! While the law in Maryland is not as strong as the law in Virginia when it comes to medical billing, it is still a great idea to have PIP coverage. The hospitals and the doctor's offices always want to know if you have PIP coverage, and they want to know because they are trying to go around your health insurance. They have a contracted rate with your health insurance, whether that health insurance is a private carrier, Medicaid, or Medicare. They do not want to take the smaller amount. But our job is not to represent them, it is to put as much money as possible into your pocket. So you should always use your health insurance!
Once your health insurance has paid for that medical care, we then help create a demand package for the PIP benefits. This package includes an application, which is normally required by the car insurance company. Also attached is our covering letter and the medical records and itemized bills of the treatment related to the accident. We send that off, and we receive the monies, as reimbursement for what the health insurance already paid. More often than not, it actually acts as a double recovery for our clients, who are involved in Maryland car crashes.
A claim for PIP benefits must be submitted within one year of the car accident.
Car insurance companies are businesses, and their job is to please their stockholders. Our job, indeed our duty, is to zealously represent our clients, and to get them as much money as is possible. Contact an experienced Maryland Car Accident Lawyer if you have questions about Maryland PIP coverage, or merely want some guidance. call our firm today - 703-879-5910!