So What is No-Fault Car Insurance Anyway?

February 18, 2020

no fault car insuranceDuring discussions of car insurance, it invariably comes up that New York is a “No-Fault State.” But we wonder if people really know what that means.

Does it have to do with lawsuits after a car accident? And how can you have a car accident without anyone at fault? Do people get away with causing an accident with no repercussions? That doesn’t make sense.

So we thought we would enlighten you about a frequently misunderstood part of your New York State Personal Auto Policy. We hope we can make it clearer for you as to what “no-fault” actually is.

As you look through your car insurance contract, you won’t find the words “No-Fault.” In most states, including New York, the insurance company uses the term “Personal Injury Protection.” Here is where you’ll find the coverages you get under No-Fault.

Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Coverage in New York State

If you’re in a car accident and you suffer medical expenses, work loss, or even death, Personal Injury Protection will pay. It doesn’t matter if you’re the owner of the vehicle, the driver, or a passenger.

And it doesn’t matter who’s at fault in the accident. This is where the term “No-Fault” comes from.

Personal Injury Protection has many advantages. It pays without injured persons having to hire lawyers to sue. It saves on courts costs and lengthy court battles. And it pays quickly. Just submit bills and the vehicle’s insurance company takes care of them. PIP coverage even applies if you are a pedestrian struck by any motor vehicle.

The summary below IS NOT comprehensive and is subject to change. It does not represent an insurance contract. Be sure to consult your policy or call us with questions.

What PIP Covers in New York State

Medical Expenses
a. Includes medical, hospital, surgical, nursing, dental, ambulance, x-ray, prescription drug and prosthetic services.

b. Psychiatric, physical and occupational therapy and rehabilitation.

c. Any non-medical remedial care and treatment rendered in accordance with a religious method of healing recognized by the laws of New York.

d. Any other professional health services.

Work Loss
Pays up to $2,000 per month for a maximum period of three years from the date of the accident. It pays loss of earnings from work which the eligible injured person would have performed had that person not been injured. (This payment is subject to exceptions listed in the policy, mainly considering whether he/she is made whole elsewhere.)

Death Benefit
The insurance company will pay $2,000 for any eligible person who dies in a car accident.

Total Amount of Coverage
Basic PIP covers every person in an accident for $50,000 each. However, it’s important to note that you can buy more coverage. It’s easy to get and very inexpensive. Give us a call and we’ll let you know the amounts of additional PIP available and the costs.

An Important Exclusion
A word of caution, though, if you drink and drive. PIP will not cover you. There is an exclusion in the policy for, “Any person as a result of operating a motor vehicle while in an intoxicated condition or while his or her ability to operate the vehicle is impaired by the use of a drug…”

We obviously encourage you not to ever drive while intoxicated. And here is another reason to either get a designated driver or don’t drink and drive in the first place!

This is such a good coverage that we highly recommend you ask us about higher limits. As we said above, they’re easy to get and very inexpensive. And they cover everyone in the car.

So we hope we’ve clarified Personal Injury Protection for you. Now you’ll be the expert at the next dinner table discussion of No-Fault!

Until next time,
Your SZW Team

SZW Insurance is your Utica area Trusted Choice™ independent insurance agent. Call us for a quote on insurance for your home, car, business, or life at 315.792.0000. Or request a quote here. In Westchester County call Zak Scalzo at 914.246.0315 or email at

Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash