If you have been involved in an auto accident, you may be wondering if your car insurance will cover your medical bills. The answer to this question depends on a few factors, including the type of coverage you have and who was at fault for the accident. Learn more in this general informational overview.
How Auto Insurance Covers Medical Expenses
There are two main ways that auto insurance can cover medical expenses after a car accident: medical payments coverage and liability coverage.
Medical Payments Coverage
Also known as med pay, medical payments coverage is a type of auto insurance coverage that can help pay for medical expenses after an accident regardless of who was at fault. This type of coverage is optional in most states, including California, but even if it’s not required, it’s still a good idea to have.
If you are injured in an accident and are covered by med pay, your insurance company will usually pay for your medical expenses up to the limit of your coverage. Med pay coverage typically has limits of $1,000 to $5,000, but you can purchase higher limits if you want. Some insurers offer up to $100,000 of med pay coverage.
Expenses typically covered under med pay include hospitalization, ambulance fees, x-rays, MRIs, doctor’s visits, surgical procedures, and other medical expenses accrued from the accident. The coverage applies to you and any relatives living in your home. Some insurers will also cover your non-relative passengers.
Liability coverage is the type of auto insurance coverage that pays for damages if you are at fault in an accident. If you have liability coverage and you cause an accident, your insurance company will help pay for the medical expenses of the other driver or passengers involved in the car accident up to your policy limits.
This type of insurance is generally broken down into two categories: bodily injury and property damage. Bodily injury liability coverage will help pay for the medical expenses of the other driver or passengers involved in the accident, while property damage liability coverage will help pay for auto body repair or for full replacement of the other driver’s vehicle.
Most states require auto insurance companies to offer you both types of liability coverage. This is the case in California.
What About PIP Coverage?
PIP coverage, or personal injury protection, is a type of auto insurance that can help pay for your medical expenses regardless of who was at fault in an accident. PIP coverage is required in some states, but it is not available in California.
If you live in a state that offers PIP coverage, it typically covers medical expenses, lost wages, funeral costs, and other expenses related to an auto accident. PIP coverage typically has limits of $1,000 to $10,000, but you can purchase higher limits if you want.
One of the biggest benefits of PIP insurance is that it covers many of the expenses that can accumulate after a person dies in a car accident. For instance, because life insurance does not cover auto accidents, PIP can help relieve surviving loved ones of the burden of funeral expenses.
Does Car Insurance Cover Medical Bills If They Exceed Coverage Limits?
If your medical expenses after a car accident exceed your coverage limits, you may be responsible for paying the remainder out of pocket. This is why it’s important to make sure you have enough auto insurance coverage to protect yourself financially in the event of an accident.
However, you may still have options. If the other driver was at fault for the accident, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against them to recover damages. You may also be able to use your health insurance to help cover the costs of your medical treatment.
Is There a Way to Protect Yourself Financially After an Accident?
One way to protect yourself financially after an auto accident is to purchase auto insurance with high coverage limits. This will help ensure that you have the financial protection you need in the event of an accident.
You can also purchase uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, which will help pay for your medical expenses if you are in a car accident caused by a driver who does not have auto insurance or does not have enough auto insurance to cover your medical costs.
However, these actions can only protect you if you take them before an accident occurs. This is because auto insurance companies generally do not allow policyholders to apply recent coverage changes to an accident that occurred before the coverage change. Regardless, purchasing this additional coverage is a smart proactive measure that can help you in the event of a future auto accident.
What If You Don’t Have Auto Insurance?
The likely scenario here will depend on whether you or another driver was injured. If you don’t have auto insurance and were injured in an accident in which you were the only driver, you may be responsible for paying all of your medical expenses out of pocket.
If you don’t have auto insurance and you cause an accident in which another driver is injured, you may be sued and ordered to pay their medical expenses. You may also be required to pay for their pain and suffering as well as any property damage you may have caused. In either case, it’s a good idea to speak with an attorney to discuss your options.
So, does car insurance cover medical bills? The short answer is that auto insurance can help pay for your medical expenses after a car accident. However, the type of coverage you have and who was at fault for the accident will play a role in how much coverage you have and what your options are if your medical expenses exceed your coverage limits.
It’s important to remember that auto insurance not only covers medical expenses but can also help pay for auto body repairs if your vehicle is damaged in an accident. If you have been in an auto accident, be sure to contact a reputable auto body shop to get an estimate for service and repair.