Automobile Medical Payments Coverage

For most people injured in a motor vehicle collision, their first thought is not “I better engage the medical payments provision of my auto liability policy.”    Many Humboldt County drivers are either unaware of their own medical payments coverage ("med pay") in their auto policies, or unfamiliar with how to invoke it and what it covers.

Med pay is coverage under a driver’s auto liability policy which pays for medical expenses incurred as a result of an injury sustained in a motor vehicle collision.  It is a separate category of coverage under a driver’s automobile liability policy, and should not be confused with a person’s health insurance coverage (which might be through a person’s employment).

Here is how a driver’s med pay coverage works, and why it is important.  If an insured driver is injured in a motor vehicle collision, the med pay coverage in their policy (provided they have paid a premium for such coverage) applies to cover the medical expenses arising out of injuries suffered in that collision.   The med pay coverage is “primary,” meaning that it is the first avenue of coverage the insured driver should look to.  The med pay coverage should pay for medical expenses arising out of injuries from the collision, up to the limit of the coverage for which the premium has been paid.

Very often, drivers are unaware of their own med pay coverage, or are unsure how it operates, and therefore it is not used.  The benefit of the med pay coverage is that it pays for medical expenses arising out of the incident, without any copay, share of costs, or deductible (compared to a health insurance type of coverage).

Very often, medical providers (such as hospitals, doctor offices, etc.) are also not aware that the med pay coverage is primary, and will simply bill medical expenses to the patient’s health insurance coverage, especially when that information may already be in their computer database for the patient.  When that happens, the insured driver is not receiving the benefit for which they paid the premium.

When a medical provider bills a patient’s health insurance coverage rather than the med pay coverage under the patient’s auto policy, the driver is not getting the benefit of the bargain for which they paid the premium.  In this circumstance, it is a good idea to invoke the med pay coverage to reimburse the driver/patient for the share of costs/deductible/copay that may not be covered under the health insurance policy.
The premium cost for obtaining medical payments coverage in an auto policy is inexpensive, at least when compared to the premium costs for obtaining health insurance coverage.  Once a basic policy of auto liability coverage is in place, it is relatively cheap to increase the medical payments coverage.  Given the number of uninsured or inadequately insured (also called underinsured) drivers on the roadways, increasing one’s med pay coverage is a very smart economic decision.

Most drivers are overwhelmed with decisions to make once they have been injured in an automobile collision.  The Janssen Malloy LLP attorneys are well versed in how the various automobile insurance coverages operate and stand ready to assist you in answering those questions and protecting yourself, if need arises.