I often get told by my clients that they “do not want to make any claims on their own insurance policy” because “it will raise their rates.” Like many things, this is an insurance tactic meant to scare people from claiming what is rightfully theirs. Let me elaborate further.
Under Texas law, every person in the State must carry Personal Injury Protection (“PIP”) coverage on their auto insurance policy, unless you expressly sign a rejection or “opt-out” of this coverage. The State minimum requirement is $2,500, although many people carry $5,000 or $10,000 in coverage (or sometimes even more, depending on what their auto insurance carrier offers). Importantly, under the Texas Insurance Code, it is illegal for your insurance company to raise your insurance rates, drop your coverage, affect your credit, etc. for making these claims. Therefore, if you have this coverage, you always want to use it.
PIP coverage is meant to reimburse you for two things: (1) medical bills you have already incurred or (2) lost wages (although it will only cover 80% of your lost wages). Additionally, Texas allows “stacking” of insurance benefits. For example, let’s say you get into an accident and you are taken to the emergency room where you incur a $10,000.00 bill. Let’s also say that you have the standard $2,500 PIP policy through your insurance company. After you are finished treating, we send that same $10,000 bill to both the Defendant’s insurance company and to your own. We get you paid $10,000 from this insurance company plus $2,500 from your own PIP coverage for a total reimbursement of $12,500. That’s right, you get paid $12,500 for a bill that was originally $10,000.
I always tell my clients the same thing: If you pay for this coverage every month in your premium, and if your insurance company cannot raise your rates for using it, then why wouldn’t you use it? It is free money falling out of the sky. However, because it’s free money falling out of the sky, many insurance companies (and their agents) will deliberately try to convince you that you do not need it because “it cost more.” Again, this cannot be further from the truth. The cost of this coverage is literally pennies on the dollar for what you get in return should you need to use it. Further, the best part is that this coverage is no-fault, meaning you are entitled to these benefits whether you caused the accident or if someone else hit you.
For these reasons, it is a no-brainer not only to have this coverage, but also to use it once you need it.