The unexpected medical bills you will incur after a car accident are rarely something that you will have anticipated or saved for. The responsible party's insurance company will not pay your medical expenses until you are ready to settle your claim. If you have medical insurance, medicare or medi-cal, you can use these resources to pay for your medical care. If you do not have this medical coverage, your own insurance policy on your own vehicle may provide coverage for some of your medical bills if you purchased medical payments coverage when you purchased your policy.
What is Medical Payments Coverage
Medical payments coverage, or "Med Pay" is an inexpensive coverage that will pay for medical bills incurred in an incident related to operating an motor vehicle. This obviously includes a car crash, but it would also include medical care for injuries from slamming you hand in the door, having a trunk lid or engine hood coming down on you or injuries sustained if you fail to set the parking brake and your own car rolls over your foot. (This has actually happened!)
Many people do not realize that they have Med Pay coverage after an collision and fail to make a claim or submit their medical bills for payment. Many insurance agents that sell insurance do not fully understand the benefits of this covarage and fail to recomend it or expain it to their customers. Med Pay will also cover deductibles and co-pays, those amounts that your group medical insurance will not cover. It usually comes in amounts of $1,000.00, $2,000.00, $5,000.00 and $10,000.00. But you can also purchase Med Pay coverage up to $100,000.00.
Beware the Reimbursement Provision
Beware, however, that after your insurance company pays your medical bills under the Med Pay coverage, if you collect money from the responsible parties insurance company for your injuries, your insurace company will likely expect you to reimburse it for the money it paid for your medical bills. Most, but not all, Med Pay policies have this reimbursement provision.
If your insurance company is going to demand their money back if and when you collect from the responsible insurance company, you may ask, why should I even make the claim if I am only going to have to pay it back? You should make the claim so that you can cover medical bills as you incur them. Especially if you do not have medical insurance that will pay mot or all of you bills. Second, if you retain an attorney to represent you for your injuries, your Med Pay coverage must reduce its reimbursement to reflect the fact that you have incurred legal fees and costs to get the recovery in the first place. This is allowed under California law and is called the "common fund doctrine."
So, check your own auto insurance policy for Med Pay coverage. If you were a passenger in someone else's car at the time of the car crash, you would be covered under their Med Pay coverage, and yours as well.