What is the Difference Between Personal Injury Protection and Medical Payments Coverage?

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Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She works as an associate editor and writer for 4autoinsurancequote.com for over a year and enjoys creating content that offers expert advice on car insurance topics.

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs...

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UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020

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Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and Medical Payments Coverage (MedPay) are two similar types of car insurance policy coverage. Both policies cover certain medical expenses after an accident. However, they cover those expenses in different ways.

Keep reading to discover everything you need to know about Personal Injury Protection and Medical Payments coverage.

How Does Medical Payments Coverage (MedPay) Work?

personal injury protection vs medical payments coverageMedical Payments coverage, or MedPay, is an optional car insurance policy that covers certain medical expenses after you are involved in an accident. You can use medical payments coverage to pay for medical, surgical, dental, and chiropractic services, for example, as long as those services are considered necessary and reasonable. Other expenses that can be claimed with Medical Payments coverage include ambulance transportation, hospitalization, X-rays, nursing care, prosthetics, and funeral expenses.

Medical Payments coverage is not a substitute for ordinary health insurance. However, if you already have health insurance, then you may not need to add Medical Payments coverage to your car insurance: both insurance policies cover similar expenses, and you don’t want to be over-insured. Typically, insurance companies offer Medical Payments coverage ranging from $10,000 to $25,000.

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How Does Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Work?

Personal Injury Protection, like MedPay, covers certain medical expenses resulting from a car accident. however, Personal Injury Protection generally covers more than MedPay. It can include coverage for physical and occupational therapy, for example, as well as rehabilitation expenses, psychiatric bills, massages, and other professional health services.

You can also claim lost wages under PIP coverage if your car accident injuries have forced you to miss time from work. PIP can also cover other reasonable non-medical and work-related losses. If you or a loved one dies in a car accident, then PIP can pay out a death benefit.

PIP coverage is mandatory in 15 states across America. In other states, it’s optional. In states where PIP coverage is optional, you typically need to choose between PIP and MedPay: you cannot have both on your policy.

What’s the Difference Between Medical Payments Coverage and Personal Injury Protection?

Both MedPay and PIP have certain similarities. They both cover medical expenses after an accident, for example. Neither policy covers vehicle damage. Some of the key differences and similarities between Medical Payments coverage and Personal Injury Protection include:

  • Both MedPay and PIP cover medical expenses resulting from a car accident
  • Both MedPay and PIP extend coverage to the driver and any passengers
  • PIP is required in 15 states, including 12 no-fault states and 3 tort law states
  • You are required to pay deductibles and co-pays with PIP
  • You can claim much more under PIP than you can claim under MedPay, including lost wages, psychiatric costs, rehabilitation costs, physical therapy costs, and more
  • PIP can also cover funeral costs (ceremony, burial expenses, or cremation), loss of income (for full-time, part-time, or self-employed policyholders), child care and household expenses (for injuries that prevent you from caring for children or maintaining your home), and survivors’ loss (which covers the breadwinner’s income for surviving dependents)
  • MedPay is optional in all states in America, although drivers in Maine and New Hampshire without health insurance may be required to purchase MedPay coverage
  • MedPay has no deductible or co-pay
  • MedPay covers immediate medical costs resulting from the accident, including your hospital bill and similar expenses; it does not cover rehabilitation costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, or ongoing therapy
  • MedPay can cover EMT and ambulance fees, hospital visits, doctor visits, surgery, X-rays, professional nursing services and care, prostheses, and dental procedures, assuming these medical expenses were incurred as a direct result of the accident
  • MedPay can either supplement your existing health insurance coverage or function as your primary medical coverage after an accident; if MedPay is considered supplemental, then your normal health insurance would cover your injuries first before MedPay is activated
  • Medical Payments insurance tends to pay out more quickly than Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance, regardless of fault
  • MedPay covers you when injured as someone else’s passenger, when taking public transit, or when injured by another driver while walking or biking; unlike PIP, this policy covers the policyholder – not the vehicle
  • PIP coverage varies from as little as $2,500 to as much as $250,000, while MedPay typically only provides $5,000 to $10,000 of coverage

Which States Require Personal Injury Protection Coverage?

15 different states require drivers to have Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage as part of their normal car insurance policies, including all of the following states:

  • Arkansas
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Pennsylvania
  • Utah

Two other states – Washington and Texas – require all car insurance companies to offer PIP coverage, but also allow drivers to reject the coverage. Additionally, Maryland (listed above), requires you to add PIP coverage unless a waiver is signed at the initial purchase of the policy.

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Ultimately, Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and Medical Payments coverage (MedPay) are two different types of car insurance policies that cover slightly different things. Both policies cover medical expenses arising from a car accident. Personal Injury Protection, however, can cover a wider variety of things (like lost wages and childcare costs), while Medical Payments coverage covers the immediate medical costs resulting from a car accident. Both policies are optional in most states, although PIP is required in 15 states and Medical Payments coverage is required in no states.

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