UIM & PIP insurance are must have coverages to protect yourself and your family while driving in Washington State. Clients, who have been in an auto collision, often tell me they have “full coverage” when it turns out they just have the minimum required by the State of Washington. (Purchase more than the minimum if you can). That minimum is bodily injury liability limits of $25,000.00 per person/$50,000.00 per accident. This means that they only have protection if they are fault or another person that had permission to drive their vehicle is at fault for an accident. Their insurance will pay up to $25,000.00 for the injuries of a person that they injure and up to $50,000.00 in total for injuries to other persons that they injure. This coverage will do nothing to help them if the other driver is at fault and does not have insurance.
Unfortunately, in Washington State approximately 16.1 percent of people drive with no insurance. This means that if you are involved in an accident with one of them and only have the State’s minimum coverage then you most likely will have to pay for the damage to your vehicle as well as your own medical bills. You will also not receive anything for all the pain and suffering you or your family members suffers. Many potential clients come to see me who were not at fault in an auto accident and who were seriously injured. The other driver did not have insurance and the potential clients only had the minimum insurance and no medical insurance. I could not help them, as most uninsured/underinsured drives do not have any assets to justify a lawsuit against them. However, you can protect yourself in this situation by buying UIM and PIP insurance coverages.
Uninsured / Underinsured (UIM) Insurance Coverage
Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM) is a type of auto insurance that will cover you, members of your household, and other people riding in the vehicle against injuries and other damages caused by a person with no insurance or not enough insurance. The coverage will be up to the amount of the UIM coverage you buy. UIM insurance can pay for the damage to your vehicle, medical expenses and pain and suffering you suffer through no fault of your own. This is obviously very important and all drivers should buy this to protect themselves and their loved ones. Insurance companies, under Washington law, must offered you this type of coverage when you buy auto insurance. Do not reject this coverage when it is offered to you.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Insurance Coverage
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage will pay for medical expenses and wage loss for you and others in your vehicle, regardless of who is at fault for the accident. You can pay your medical providers as you receive treatment. They will not have to wait to be paid until the case is over. Many medical providers will not provide treatment if you do not have this type of insurance or medical insurance. Usually the amount of PIP coverage offered will be a minimum of $10,000.00 to $35,000.00 per person. I recommend that you purchase the $35,000.00 especially if you do not have medical insurance. There is no deductible or per visit out-of-pocket payment. So even if you have medical insurance you should purchase PIP coverage.
There are other auto insurance coverages available that I will write about in another information sheet. But the most important in my opinion are Liability, UIM and PIP. Make sure you purchase them in the highest amounts you can afford, as there are many drivers out there with no insurance.
 (1) Percentage of uninsured drivers, as measured by the ratio of uninsured motorists (UM) claims to bodily injury (BI) claim frequencies.
Source: Insurance Research Council.