By Pendergast Law on August 12, 2020
In the state of Washington, insurance agents and brokers are required to offer two types of coverage to anyone purchasing an auto insurance policy personal injury protection (PIP) and uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage. You are not required to carry either under state law, however, they may offer huge advantages in an accident, especially if you need coverage for your injuries. Although both PIP and UM/UIM insurance provide protection if another driver hits you, there are differences between these two types of coverage that accident victims need to be aware of.
Basic Auto Insurance Policies
According to Washington state insurance laws, auto vehicle drivers must have some form of liability coverage in the event of an accident to cover damages suffered by other parties, such as drivers, passengers, or pedestrians. This can come in three different forms, including:
- Minimum liability coverage for $25,000 for injuries, $50,000 for total injuries in an accident, and $10,000 for property damage
- A minimum deposit of $60,000 to act as personal liability insurance in the event of an accident
- A minimum liability bond of $60,000
This coverage does not extend to the driver, however, and will only apply to other injured parties. To receive coverage for your own injuries, you will need to file against an at-fault driver’s policy. In addition, many auto policies in the state of Washington included PIP and UM/UIM coverage, which may apply for specific scenarios.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Insurance Explained
PIP is no-fault insurance, meaning it will cover any medical treatment you require, within policy limits, even if you caused the accident in which you were injured. It will also cover lost wages and funeral expenses after a crash. However, to receive full coverage for your medical expenses, you will need to prove that the other driver caused your accident.
Insurance companies are not required to offer PIP coverage for motorcycles, only passenger vehicles. If you opt out of PIP coverage, you must do so in writing, otherwise, the insurance provider is required to add it to your auto insurance policy. Minimum required PIP coverage in the state of Washington is:
- Up to $10,000 for medical expenses for each injured person
- Up to $200 per week income replacement coverage
- Up to $2,000 for funeral expenses
- Up to $5,000 for loss of services (if you must pay someone for work you are unable to perform because of your injuries)
This coverage is designed to go into effect the moment an accident occurs and can be useful in paying medical bills right after a collision, which is useful if the claims process takes longer than normal.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) Insurance Explained
Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage provides compensation for bodily injury and/or property damage if the driver who hit you:
- has no automobile insurance (UM) or you were involved in a hit and run accident; or
- has liability auto insurance coverage that is insufficient to cover your losses (UIM).
These two types of coverage (UM and UIM) are contained in the same section of your personal auto insurance policy, and premiums are paid for both coverages at once. As with PIP insurance, if you opt out of UIM/UM coverage, you must provide a written waiver to the insurance company, so there is a real possibility you have this coverage and do not know it.
The Differences Between PIP and UM/UIM Insurance
PIP and UM/UIM are both invaluable resources for accident victims that allow them to cover the costs of an accident when the at-fault driver has minimum or no insurance coverage. However, these policies apply to unique situations that may not always overlap.
Key differences between PIP and UM/UIM insurance include:
Fault: PIP is no-fault insurance, meaning you have coverage no matter who caused the crash. To receive full benefits under UM/UIM insurance, you must prove the other driver caused the accident.
Benefits: PIP coverage allows you to immediately seek medical treatment after an accident with no worry about out-of-pocket costs. The same does not apply to UM/UIM coverage. Receiving medical treatment for your injuries is an important step in building a personal injury claim, so you will want to utilize your PIP coverage as soon as possible.
Claims Process: UM/UIM claims create an adversarial relationship with your insurance company. When you present your insurer with a UM/UIM claim, the insurance company stands in place of the at-fault driver who caused your accident, and now has interests in opposition to your own. This is not the case with PIP insurance.
Using Your Coverage
Filing a claim for a car accident can be a stressful process as you try to sort through various insurance policies and cover your medical expenses. This process can become difficult when you have to deal with a UM/UIM policy and must file a claim against your own insurance. Your insurance company is likely to take an adversarial position and try to limit the medical coverage you receive and the damages the company pays out. You will not run into the same issues with PIP coverage, but to receive full benefits, you must prove the other driver caused the crash, and to do so, you need a lawyer.
If you were in a car accident with a negligent driver, contact Pendergast Law, to schedule a free consultation to review your insurance policy. Our Seattle car accident attorneys have more than 30 years of experience and aggressively advocate for compensation from all available sources after a collision. Call us at 888-539-9211 to learn what options are available to you in the state of Washington.