How Does Personal Injury Protection Work in Massachusetts?

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Massachusetts is one of a handful of states where personal injury protection (PIP) car insurance is 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 PIP in Massachusetts though.

What is covered by personal injury protection in Massachusetts?

PIP covers up to $8,000 in medical costs, lost earnings, replacement services and funeral expenses stemming from a car accident. Bay State drivers don't have the option to select a limit higher or lower than $8,000. If you want additional, similar coverage, you can opt to include MedPay in your car insurance.

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.

If you opted for a $1,000 deductible, you would have to pay the first $1,000 in costs and then receive $7,000 in reimbursement.

The benefit of a higher deductible is to reduce your monthly premium. PIP insurance covers everyone in your household, and each person is entitled to $8,000 worth of coverage.

If you have a private, non-ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974) health plan, however, your car insurance company does not necessarily have to pay out all $8,000. You are entitled to at least $2,000 worth of coverage in Massachusetts from your car insurer, 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.
  • 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 PIP maximum.

If your PIP insurance has a $500 deductible and pays you $2,000 in medical care reimbursement, there would be $5,500 of PIP benefit remaining, which you would be entitled to for lost earnings.

Let's say you were making $700 a week before the accident. PIP would pay you 75% of that, or $525 per week. You would be paid those wages for about 10 weeks before maxing out your PIP benefits ($5,500 ÷ $525 = 10.5 weeks).

Self-employed people are eligible for this benefit as well, as long as they can prove their income. Drivers who were unemployed, but have proof they would have started working had they not been injured, can also receive benefits.

How and when to file a PIP claim in Massachusetts

It is important to follow the proper procedures when filing a PIP claim to ensure your costs will be covered. After getting into an accident, you must inform your insurance company, who will then send over paperwork that needs to be filled out. You will need to explain the accident, your injuries 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 that you have 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?

There aren't many ways to reduce your PIP premium in Massachusetts, but you can adjust the deductible to get some savings. Deductibles for PIP in MA start as low as $100 and go up to $8,000.

We collected quotes from Geico for two types of drivers insuring their car in Boston to illustrate the changes in premium cost based on the deductible.

PIP deductible amount
Cost of PIP coverage
Total cost of car insurance
No Deductible$49$938
$500 Deductible$43$932
$1,000 Deductible$40$929
$2,000 Deductible$36$925
$8,000 Deductible$26$915

Rates are annual quotes for basic coverage for a 30-year-old driver.

Going with a higher deductible can save you a few dollars per year.

Using the premium costs above as an example, you may pay up to $23 more per year, but remember, you are only entitled to the $8,000 worth of coverage, minus your deductible. For example, if you go with a $500 deductible, you'll have to pay the $500 and only be entitled to $7,500 worth of coverage. So you’ll save less than $10 in premium costs and have to pay $500 if you get into a car accident.

We recommend not choosing a deductible unless the money you’d save over a five-year driving period is greater than or equal to the deductible.

Let's say your agent's quote has you saving $100 per year when you choose a $500 deductible. That means you will save $500 over the course of five years — equal to the deductible amount. This may be worth the cost, but it's also highly unlikely to get a quote with savings that high.

What if your PIP claim is greater than $8,000?

The purpose of a no-fault law in a state is to reduce the time and expense of determining fault or having a lawsuit. With no-fault insurance, drivers can be compensated by their own policies

But there are some exceptions in which you might be able to bring a lawsuit against another driver. 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 must cover at least $20,000 in Massachusetts. Additionally, in order to sue, the other driver must have been more than 50% at fault in the accident. If your injuries are the result of an accident that was determined to be mostly your fault, you won't have a case.

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