Auto insurance is something most people don’t think very much about if they’ve never been in an accident. California law requires all vehicle owners to have insurance coverage, but how much do you know about the details of that coverage?
One term you may have heard before is “personal injury protection” coverage, or PIP. Simply put, it is insurance coverage that protects each driver against certain costs associated with an auto accident regardless of who was at fault. We’ll discuss PIP in more detail in this post, including how California’s version of PIP coverage differs from those in other states.
Numerous states require PIP coverage
There are 13 states that have passed laws requiring PIP coverage. These are no-fault states, which basically means that each person’s insurance is supposed to cover their own damages after a crash (usually medical bills and lost wages) – at least up to a certain point. It is more difficult, but not impossible, to file a personal injury lawsuit in a no-fault state.
California is a fault state, which is one reason why PIP coverage isn’t compulsory here. You do have the option of purchasing coverage that functions very much like PIP, but it is referred to as “Med-Pay” in California.
The Pros and Cons of Med-Pay (PIP) coverage
If you have the financial resources to add Med-Pay coverage to your insurance plan, there are benefits to doing so. They include:
- Insurance coverage without having to prove fault
- Coverage even if you were at fault
- Coverage if you are ever involved in an accident with a driver who has no insurance, too little insurance or flees the scene and cannot be found (a hit-and-run driver)
- Coverage for any passengers in your vehicle
Med-Pay can add significant costs to your insurance premiums, which not everyone can afford. Furthermore, the payout limits will likely not be high enough to fully cover a catastrophic accident.
What does California law require for insurance coverage?
California law requires a certain level of liability coverage for injuries/deaths and property damage. These cover injuries/damage that you cause to other drivers and their vehicles. Currently, minimum coverage limits are:
- $5,000 in property damage liability
- $15,000 injury/death coverage for one person per accident
- $30,000 injury/death coverage for two or more people per accident
Traffic accidents can easily max out these coverage limits, which is why it is a good idea to buy a policy that provides more than minimum coverage.
Know your options if you’ve been hurt in a car accident
Many drivers do not have Med-Pay in California. And even if you do, it likely won’t be enough to cover all your costs after a serious accident. Therefore, you may need to file a personal injury lawsuit to improve your chances of a fair settlement or jury award, to be paid by the at-fault driver and their insurance company.
If you’d like to know more about your legal options, our firm is pleased to offer free initial consultations to all prospective clients.