No-Fault Insurance in Hawaii
Hawaii is referred to as a “No-Fault State”. This term can be very confusing. We get a lot of calls from people who have been in auto accidents in Hawaii who think that it doesn’t matter who is at fault in a car accident in Hawaii.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. No-fault insurance (also known as Personal Injury Protection, or “PIP”) refers to the $10,000 in medical benefits that all car insurance companies in Hawaii are required to include in auto insurance policies. It certainly still matters who is at fault in an accident.
The reason why these medical benefits are called no-fault insurance benefits is that fault doesn’t matter when it comes to the $10,000 in medical benefits. No matter who is at fault in a car accident in Hawaii, the insurance for the vehicle that you were in will pay the first $10,000 in medical benefits. Many people are confused about why their own insurance has to pay their medical bills when it was the driver of the other car who caused the accident. The reason why this law was written this way is that the first concern in an auto collision in Hawaii is that all those who are injured get the medical treatment they need as soon as possible. Sometimes it is not clear who is at fault in an accident. Therefore, instead of having injured people wait for the insurance companies to sort out who is at fault before getting treatment, with the no-fault coverage, all who are injured in accidents in Hawaii can go ahead and get the treatment that they need with the assurance that their own car insurance company will pay the bills no matter who was at fault.
Hawaii No-fault insurance covers any reasonable medical treatment that is related to the injuries from the accident. It covers bills for the ambulance, emergency room, doctor visits, physical therapy, massage therapy, and even acupuncture.
No-fault insurance gives the people of Hawaii the piece of mind that if they are involved in an auto accident they won’t have to worry about medical bills. They can also rest assured that our law firm will hold the at-fault driver accountable for their pain and suffering, wage loss, and any other expenses related to the auto accident.
It’s important to keep in mind that although you have $10,000 in medical benefits with the PIP coverage, they only have to pay for treatment that is reasonable and is related to the accident. The insurance company has the right to verify that the treatment is due to injuries from the accident.
First, they’ll want to take your recorded statement. We recommend that you wait for a few days after the accident to provide this statement. Some injuries take a few days to show up. You do not want to provide your statement until you are sure that all of the injuries from the accident are known to you.
When giving the recorded statement, be sure to tell the adjuster about every single injury you have suffered due to the accident. If you don’t to the adjuster about an injury, then the insurance company may not pay for your treatment from that injury. For example, if you tell the adjuster that your upper back hurts, but you say that your lower back is fine, don’t be surprised if the adjuster denies any claims related to your lower back.
When you are providing your recorded statement, only answer the questions that you are asked. Some people have a tendency to ramble. Rambling can get you in trouble in a recorded statement. If you ramble, you may end up saying something that they could use against you.
The insurance company will also expect you to complete an application for No-Fault Insurance benefits. The advice for this is similar to the advice for a recorded statement. Be sure to include all injuries. If you are worried that you may forget something, then err on the side of being too broad. For example, it’s better to say that you have back pain than to say that you have mid-back pain. If you say you have back pain, then that could include your whole back.
When dealing with insurance adjusters, the best rule of thumb to keep in mind is that their job is to help their company avoid paying for your injuries. Even though they seem to be really nice and helpful, you must always keep in mind that this is just part of the act. They act really nice so that you will let down your guard. They want you to feel comfortable and at ease with them. They know that if you feel this way, then you’ll be more open with them and willing to freely give them information that they can use to avoid paying for your bills.
They will be looking for prior injuries that may have contributed to your current injuries. They will be looking for people to downplay their injuries or to exaggerate their injuries. You don’t want to be in either extreme. For example, they will ask you questions like, “on a scale of 1-10 how painful is your injury”. If you say “one”, then they will think that they don’t need to pay for any treatment because your injuries are so minor. If you say “ten”, then they may assume you’re exaggerating and they may require that you have an independent medical examination where one of their doctors will most certainly conclude that you don’t need any treatment.
Hopefully, you are seeing that you really have to be on your guard when it comes to insurance adjusters. Your goal is to convince them that you are indeed injured and that you need treatment to get better. Never tell them, “that treatment wasn’t really helping.” Of course, they’ll quit paying for that treatment if you tell them that.
For more extensive information, check out the Hawaii State Insurance website.