So Does Med Pay Actually Pay?
Medical Payments and PIP—What’s the Difference?
Trick question. With some exceptions, they are essentially the same thing.
Medical payments, commonly referred to as "med pay," is also known as PIP, which stands for Personal Injury Protection. Both will be found in most automobile insurance policies.
Med pay will pay for your medical bills up to a dollar value cap if you are involved in a personal injury regardless of liability.
PIP is somewhat more expansive, depending on the policy definition and insurer, but essentially pays for your medical and other similar bills after an accident.
Give Me An Example
You are in a rush to pick up your daughter from soccer practice at 5, yet just remembered you have a conference call at 5:30 and still have to get your son at his friend’s house. You aren’t paying attention. Just like that, you’ve rear-ended the vehicle in front of you at the stop light.
The other driver claims his back is sore and the police come and prepare a report. You are given a ticket for failure to yield and a few other things. You notice your neck is beginning to hurt and even causing your arms to tingle.
You call your daughter and let her know the neighbor will pick her up, call the neighbor to let her know, and then call your son and his friend’s mother to let them know the new arrangements.
While the other driver may have a claim against you for his injuries and property damage (and you will, of course, report this to your carrier as soon as possible), you are in pain and are going to the doctor tonight to get checked out. The doctor at the Immediate Care facility recommends 4 weeks of physical therapy.
Since you’ve just started a new job, you don’t have health insurance yet. How will you pay your bills?
The answer lies in the "med pay" provision of your own auto insurance policy.
How Much Will My Insurance Pay?
Auto insurance in the State of Illinois must meet certain minimum standards. The bare minimal policy covers up to $25,000 per person per incident for personal injuries, up to $50,000 per incident (meaning if there are multiple individuals injured, that is the most available from that insurance policy), and up to $20,000 for property damage.
Notice that medical payments and PIP coverage, like Uninsured Motorist (UM) and Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverages are not mandated.
While you are required to decline in writing the offer of UM/UIM coverage, which would normally mirror the liability limits, you do not have to be offered medical payments or PIP coverage. That’s right; some policies I’ve seen do not have any coverage for med pay!
What Should You Do?
Make sure you ask about your coverage. Make sure you ask for the dollar amount of med pay coverage you will have. I have seen some policies without any, some covering only $1,000, and most covering a mere $5,000. It is rare that people think this through enough to purchase insurance with significant med pay limits of $20,000 or more. That is what you should have if possible!
Does It Matter From What Company I Have Auto Insurance?
Yes, yes, and yes!
The low end (“substandard”) carriers will always nickel and dime you. Your policy may actually say you have $5,000 in med pay coverage. So you go to the doctor, send in the bills, and the insurance refuses to pay all the bills.
Many lower end carriers will claim the bills were more than was a “reasonable” charge. Others will even require you to be examined by a doctor of their choosing as part of the policy, to see if the bills incurred were causally related to the accident claimed.
Do not let yourself be played like this. Read your policy. Talk to your broker. Make sure you understand your rights and what the insurance can and cannot do. Good companies will simply pay the bills without question.
Medical Payments Is a Must
It allows you to get bills paid (even the portions your health insurance won’t pay) even when you are partly, or completely at fault, without any questions.
It covers people in your vehicle. Just think about your foreign au pair being your passenger in the crash we discussed earlier. Good med pay coverage would take care of all her bills without you having to worry or feel guilty.
- Understanding medical payments coverage/PIP coverage
- Make sure you understand what is covered and in what amounts
- Buy from a good company and a broker
- Abide by your responsibilities under your policy
- Keep your policy limits as high as possible
Contact Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Stephen Hoffman
As in all cases involving injury and potential liability, immediately get medical treatment, report the crash to police and your own insurance company, and contact a personal injury lawyer.
If you've been in an accident and have questions, contact Chicago personal injury attorney Stephen L. Hoffman for a free consultation at (773) 944-9737. Stephen has nearly 30 years of legal experience and has collected millions of dollars for his clients. He has been named a SuperLawyer, has a 10.0 rating on Avvo, and is BBB A+ accredited.
Stephen handles personal injury and workers' compensation claims on a contingency fee basis, which means you don’t pay anything upfront and he only gets paid if you do. Don’t wait another day, contact Stephen now.