What Does PIP Mean in Florida?

Tue, Nov 24, 2015

General Legal Issues

3047006581_1eec7f647d_b (1)PIP or Personal Injury Protection.  It’s a really misunderstood concept. And sometimes if it is understood, it’s really not liked by many. Of course, there are those who champion the whole concept.

The questions abound. What does it mean? Who does it affect? Does it make sense? Is it really legal? Is it ethical? Does it protect the right people? Who can be covered? What if you don’t own a car? What if you are in someone else’s car? Who has to have it? What if someone doesn’t have it?

So let’s start with the definition. PIP stands for Personal Injury Protection. Florida requires those who register a regular car/truck to have PIP as part of their insurance. Florida insurance is required to contain PIP for vehicles that have 4 wheels and are for on-road use. This means that motorcycle insurance does not have to come with PIP coverage. Also, some commercial insurance might not require PIP coverage or allow for unique situations regarding PIP depending on the vehicle.

But basically, you need to have PIP coverage with your Florida insurance for most vehicles. Florida requires PIP and Property Damage coverage when you register your car. You must carry $10,000 in Property Damage coverage and carry the maximum Florida requirement of $10,000 in PIP coverage. You can elect a deductible for your PIP to reduce costs, but that also means you have to meet that deductible first and then you have to be prepared for the fact that PIP covers only 80% of medical bills up to $10,000. So with traditional PIP coverage, you will get a bill from the doctor at some point because the car insurance company won’t cover the entire bill. Keep in mind that additional PIP coverage is often available and should be considered. Also, keep in mind that recent PIP changes require you to report accidents in a certain amount of time and seek certain treatments in a very timely manner to get all the PIP payments allowed by law. As reported by the Sun-Sentinel, the new changes… required people involved in crashes to seek treatment within 14 days and allowed up to $10,000 in benefits for emergency medical conditions, while putting a $2,500 cap on non-emergency conditions.”

Once the PIP limits are exhausted, then you are done with the medical coverage available to you from your own policy unless you carry other valuable coverage like Medical Payments or Uninsured Motorist coverage (if applicable to your accident). From there you can try to receive medical benefits from any other at-fault party in the accident. And that’s where another PIP benefit (or curse, depending on your views) comes into play.

If you are not injured beyond a certain threshold that Florida has set, you cannot gain more than the $10,000 in PIP benefits you will receive from your own policy. So, basically you have to be seriously injured and have specific disastrous injuries to receive Bodily Injury benefits from someone else’s policy. This is a protection for Florida’s residents, but also something that few understand.

If a person involved in an accident does not have Bodily Injury coverage they can be penalized because of Florida’s Financial Responsibility law, however that will not help with your injuries unless that person has funds you can sue them for. This is why many experts recommend using the Florida Uninsured Motorist Injury limits that all policyholders must carry unless they reject them via a signed form.

Many disagree with the idea that their own policy pays out medical benefits if the accident is not their fault, but that is a part of Florida law that has been hard for legislators to remove over the years. PIP is one of the most controversial coverages when it comes to automobile insurance.

Attorney Christopher D. Smith, Sr. is designated a Board Certified Consumer Bankruptcy Lawyer by the American Board of Certification.  SmithLaw is located in Lakewood Ranch, Florida.  Attorney Smith concentrates on bankruptcy, civil litigation, probate, estate planning, and elder exploitation cases in the Sarasota and Bradenton area.  Call 941-202-2222 to learn more.  SmithLaw offers free consultations in certain areas, including consumer bankruptcy, probate, and personal injury matters.

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