Personal Injury Protection (PIP) is a type of car insurance that pays for medical bills, wage loss, and other costs after a car crash. Some policies refer to this benefit as medpay. This coverage is mandatory in Oregon insurance policies, but not in Washington: check your Policy Declarations page to see if PIP is included.

The basics of Personal Injury Protection coverage

Regardless of fault or cause, most people involved in a serious crash find that they need to access their own car insurance policy to cover medical bills and expenses. PIP money is usually the first piece of insurance available.

In Washington State, PIP coverage must include:

  • $10,000 – $35,000 for medical and hospital bills;
  • $10,000 – $35,000 for lost wages;
  • $5,000 – $14,600 in service benefits for home and transportation assistance, and
  • $2000 for funeral expenses, if the crash was fatal.

Here’s what you need to know about using your PIP insurance policy to cover medical bills after a collision.

1. PIP is primary coverage.

If you have PIP—or Medical Payment coverage—you will want to give this information to your doctors and medical providers. PIP is considered primary coverage after a car crash; your health insurance becomes secondary coverage.

If, for example, you have Personal Injury Protection coverage of $50,000, your health insurance coverage wouldn’t kick in until you’d exhausted the full $50,000 of PIP.

Once all your coverage has been used, the PIP carrier will issue a letter advising that the coverage is “exhausted”.

2. Car insurance companies usually pay higher rates. 

Car insurance companies often have to pay more than health insurance companies pay for the same medical care. Your health insurance company can negotiate “in network” rates with medical providers, who agree to the reduced rates because they know the insurer is directing patients to their offices.

Your car insurance company, conversely, will pay “out of network” rates with medical provide