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Vancouver, Washington

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Don Jacobs
Don Jacobs
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Understanding your auto insurance

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Washington consumers who find themselves injured in an auto accident often turn to the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage in their policy. This coverage pays for medical bills and wage loss if a driver or passengers are injured. Washington requires insurers cover at least $10,000 of medical bills or three years of treatment, whichever comes first. The coverage also pays for essential services if help is needed around the house because of the injury. Money is available to pay for things like lawn care, housekeeping and child care. The coverage isn’t mandatory, as it is in Oregon, but Washington does require every sales agent offer the coverage and explain what it does. If a consumer decides not to purchase, the sales agent must have them sign a rejection form. The signed form is required to be kept as part of the permanent insurance file. If a consumer is injured later on and the form can’t be produced, the insurance company has to provide the coverage, even if all sides agree it wasn’t purchased earlier. Lawyers who specialize in these cases know to ask for a copy of the rejection form when a client is injured. They know some sales agents either don’t follow the law, or forget to maintain the form as part of the file. If they find the law wasn’t followed, their clients benefit. Although it would be prudent for any driver to purchase this coverage, the signed rejection rule may save some from medical bankruptcy if the law wasn’t followed.