Personal injury protection (PIP) is a component of car insurance required in many states. In Maryland, PIP is required on all vehicles unless expressly waived by the vehicle owner. Md. Code, Ins. § 19-505. This form of insurance is often called “no-fault” insurance coverage, as it provides protection regardless of which driver caused the accident that resulted in injury. PIP coverage is what’s known as first-party insurance coverage. This is an oversimplification, but PIP can be thought of as: paid by your insurance policy to you, regardless of fault. If you are in an auto accident and the other driver does not have enough insurance to provide for all of your injuries, your insurance, through PIP, will still offer you and your passengers some coverage.
In Maryland, PIP insurance covers not only the owner of the vehicle but a driver granted permission to operate the vehicle. Md. Code Ann., Ins. § 19-505(a)(1) Also included are any passengers inside the insured’s vehicle as well as any pedestrians struck by the car. Md. Code Ann., Ins. § 19-505(a)(2)
There are even provisions for those injured while in, on or exiting a vehicle operated by animal or muscle power. Md. Code Ann., Ins. § 19-505(a)(3) (This is excellent news if you are Amish or related to the Flinstones. Otherwise, chances are it doesn’t apply to you.)
PIP covers medical, hospital and disability expenses for anyone in the insured vehicle, or pedestrians outside the car. Md. Code Ann., Ins. § 19-505(b). This includes medical bills as well as up to 85 percent of income lost up to $2,500—unless the insured purchases a policy providing greater coverage. If PIP is not waived, $2500 is the minimum coverage. An injured individual may only claim lost income if that person was employed at the time of the accident; the policy will not cover potential income lost due to injury. Md. Code Ann., Ins. § 19-505(b)(2)(ii). Like many civil claims, any claims for medical bills or lost wages must be filed within three years of the accident. Md. Code Ann., Ins. § 19-505(b)(3)
Unlike many states that require PIP insurance, Maryland offers its drivers the opportunity to expressly waive PIP. Md. Code Ann., Ins § 19-506. Before the coverage may be waived, the insurer must provide the insured with full disclosure of the coverage, as required by Md. Code Ann., Ins. § 19-506(d)(3). This information, as well as the waiver, may be included in the insured’s contract. Md. Code Ann., Ins. § 19-506(d). The waiver not only applies to the insured driver, but to any other authorized drivers and any family members living in the insured’s home who are over the age of 16. Md. Code Ann., Ins. § 19-506(b)(2).
While an insurance company may not refuse to insure an individual because he will not waive PIP coverage, there are particular circumstances where an insurance company may choose not to extend PIP coverage to an individual driver based upon that individual’s driving record. Md. Code Ann., Ins. §§ 19-506(f) & 27-609. An insurance company may provide coverage to a household, but it may specifically deny all coverage, including PIP, if an individual in that household is operating the vehicle, even if the passengers would normally be protected.
Waiver is an option to save the insured money. However, waiving PIP is not recommended. There is a requirement, under Maryland law, which dictates how large the type must be on the PIP disclosure. Anytime the lawmakers have to force the insurance companies to take that kind of measure, chances are they have a benefit to hiding it and you have a benefit to knowing about it.
The purpose of personal injury protection (PIP), in a fundamental sense, is for the insured to get a benefit quickly without having to deal with litigation.