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Massachusetts is part of a handful of states that make personal injury protection (PIP) car insurance mandatory for all drivers. The coverage is meant to pay for any medical costs and lost earnings in the event of an accident regardless of who was at fault. There are a couple of unique provisions for Massachusetts drivers regarding PIP.
What is covered by Personal Injury Protection in Massachusetts?
The minimum amount of PIP that drivers in the Bay State can buy is $8,000, one of the lowest limits of required PIP in the country. That $8,000 from PIP will cover two types of costs: medical costs, and lost earnings stemming from disability. Unlike most other forms of PIP, Massachusetts PIP will not cover funeral costs.
Massachusetts PIP covers medical costs
If you are injured in a car accident, PIP will pay up to $8,000 worth of medical costs minus the amount of your deductible. For example, if you opted for a $1,000 deductible, you would have to pay the first $1,000 in costs and then you would receive only $7,000 worth of reimbursement. The benefit of the deductible is to reduce your monthly premium, which we speak in more detail below. The insurance covers everyone in your household, and each person is entitled to $8,000 worth of coverage.
If you have a private, non-ERISA, health plan, however, your car insurance company does not necessarily have to pay out the $8,000. You are entitled to at least $2,000 worth of coverage in Massachusetts, but generally, you will only be able to use the remaining $6,000 for medical costs if:
- Your health plan doesn’t cover the treatments or injuries sustained in the car accident
- Your health plan has a deductible which your PIP will pay for
- Your health plan has a co-pay which your PIP will help pay
MA PIP will also pay for lost earnings
If your injuries render you unable to work, PIP in Massachusetts will cover 75% of your lost wages based on the salary you had in the year previous to the day of the accident. The total amount you can receive is still limited to the $8,000 cap. If for example, you had $2,000 worth of injuries and a $500 deductible, you would be entitled to $5,500 worth of lost earnings remaining in the original $8,000. If you were making $700 a week, PIP would pay you $525 per week, which would last you about 10 weeks ($5,500/$525 = 10.5 weeks). Self-employed people are still eligible for this benefit as well, so long as they can prove their income. Drivers who were unemployed, but have proof they would start working, can also receive benefits.
How and when to file a PIP claim in Massachusetts
It is important to follow the proper procedure when filing a PIP claim to ensure your costs will be covered. After getting into the accident, you must inform your insurance company, who will then send over paperwork that needs to be filled out. The paperwork will detail the nature of the accident, the injuries you have sustained, and your treatment thus far. Generally, you should do this as fast as you are able to, but you do have up to two years from the date of the accident to submit your paperwork. Your insurance company may request you submit to an independent medical examination (IME) to verify your injuries. Failing to comply with the examination may terminate your benefits.
How much does PIP cost in Massachusetts?
Bay Staters do not have as many ways to reduce their personal injury protection premiums as in other states, but they can adjust their deductible. Deductibles for PIP in MA start from as low as $100 up to $8,000. What is the difference in cost? Below we collected quotes from Geico for two types of drivers insuring their car in Boston to illustrate this.
Type of Deductible
Yearly Price for 30-Year-Old Policyholder (PIP/Total)
Yearly Price for 45-Year-Old Couple Policyholders (PIP/Total)
As our findings show, going with a higher deductible can save you a small amount of money. Ultimately, however, we would say it is not worth having. You may pay $10 more per year, but remember you are only entitled to the $8,000 worth of coverage, minus your deductible. So if you go with a $500 deductible, you'll have to pay the $500 and only be entitled to $7,500 worth of coverage. The $10 you saved going with the deductible is insignificant compared to the $500 you would end up paying if you got into a car accident.
What if your PIP claim is greater than $8,000?
The purpose of a no-fault law in a state is so drivers do not sue each other as much for costs. The process of suing is usually time-consuming and expensive. With no-fault insurance, no one needs to be at-fault for drivers to pay for their costs, thus no one really needs to sue each other for reimbursement.
In most cases in MA, you may not meet the requirements to bring a suit against another driver. There are a few exceptions. If injuries stemming from the accident are particularly severe, such as disfigurement, permanent disability or injuries with an unusually high price tag, you may sue the other driver for more compensation. You can file a lawsuit against their bodily injury liability insurance which is at least $20,000 worth in Massachusetts. The other driver needs to be more than 50% at-fault in the accident for them to be sue against in the Bay State. If the traumatic injuries are the result of an accident you mostly cause, you won't have a case.