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Medical payments coverage helps pay for medical and funeral expenses after a car accident. It's an optional form of auto insurance that typically covers the policyholder, family members driving the car and any passengers. Also known as medical payments coverage or MedPay, coverage applies no matter who's at fault.
What does MedPay cover?
After a car accident, your car insurance policy's medical payments coverage can pay for several types of expenses. These typically include:
- EMT and ambulance fees
- Hospital visits and stays
- Doctor visits
- Surgery and X-rays
- Professional nursing services and care
- Prosthetic limbs
- Dental procedures needed as a result of an accident
- Injuries sustained as a pedestrian or riding a bicycle if a vehicle hits you
- Funeral costs
MedPay coverage follows the policyholder. In other words, if you're walking, riding in a friend's car or using public transportation, your medical payments coverage remains active. You're covered across the U.S., too. In some situations, medical payments coverage won't apply. For example, trailers or other equipment attached to your car aren't covered.
How does medical payments coverage work?
To get a claim payout, you can either receive a direct reimbursement or add MedPay to your existing health insurance policy. It depends on what your auto and home insurance policies allow and whether you live in a no-fault state. When we contacted customer service and claims representatives at major insurers, we couldn't get a clear answer. Geico seems to consider health insurance the primary coverage, while Progressive and State Farm representatives said MedPay would pay out first. Check your policy to be sure.
How MedPay works if it acts as primary coverage
- After an accident, you would pay your medical bills upfront and ask your MedPay carrier for reimbursement. You won't have to pay for deductibles or copays, which are typically associated with health insurance.
- If your MedPay is considered secondary coverage, then your health insurer would pay for the majority of your medical bills. You could use MedPay to cover your deductibles or copays.
Coverage limits on MedPay are usually low. They're mainly intended to cover immediate medical and funeral expenses following an accident or to supplement other types of insurance. And if you're injured while on the job, then you're covered by workers' compensation and not MedPay.
If I have health insurance or personal injury protection, do I need MedPay?
The three coverages overlap, so the answer depends on how your health insurance policy is structured and where you live. You might want to consider medical payments coverage even if you have health insurance and personal injury protection.
Health insurance typically pays for medical expenses, but some policies exclude injuries related to a car accident. That can leave you on the hook for high out-of-pocket expenses. Medical payments coverage could help pay for those expenses and give you peace of mind.
If your health insurance covers car accidents, then you'd likely have to pay a deductible or a copay before your insurance kicks in. MedPay can reimburse you for those costs. But you'll have to check if it's worth paying for both types of policies. If you don't have a deductible and your health insurance covers car accidents, then you don't need MedPay.
Personal Injury Protection
Personal injury protection (PIP), which is mandatory in no-fault states and optional in other states, has a wider reach compared to MedPay. PIP covers health costs, psychiatric care, rehabilitative care and lost wages.
But PIP is subject to claim limits. So if your state requires PIP, then you might consider getting MedPay, too. That's because you'll need to pay for any overages if your medical bills exceed your PIP limits. If you have both types of policies, then you'd use PIP to cover rehabilitation costs and lost wages and have MedPay reimburse you for hospital and doctor visits.
Michigan may be the only state where you don't need MedPay. It's the only no-fault auto insurance state with no limit on medical expenses. Once your medical expenses reach a certain threshold, the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association (MCCA) starts reimbursing the insurance company. You wouldn't be responsible for any out-of-pocket expenses.
How much can medical payments car insurance cost?
MedPay policyholders choose a maximum dollar payout, which helps determine the cost of the premium. Choosing a higher limit will increase your auto insurance quote. You can add medical payments coverage to a policy at any time through your online account or over the phone.
Below are some examples of coverage limits per incident and the additional cost added to a monthly premium for a sample 30-year-old married man driving a Toyota Camry in Indiana. Costs run from an additional $2 a month to $37 a month depending on the amount of MedPay protection you get. You should base your decision on the total cost of your policy.
Cost by insurer and coverage limit per incident
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Across the five companies we surveyed, the most common MedPay coverage limits were $1,000, $2,000, $5,000, $10,000 and $25,000. Geico offered more limit options on the lower end of the range, from $500, and then in $1,000 increments from $1,000 to $5,000. State Farm offered more limits on the higher end, including medical payments up to $50,000 and $100,000.
To understand the cost of medical payments insurance coverage, we collected sample quotes from five top insurers: Allstate, Esurance, Geico, Progressive and State Farm.
We determined the cost to add medical payments at five coverage levels ranging from $1,000 to $25,000, though not every insurer offered coverage at the same levels.
All quotes are for a married 30-year-old man who lives in Indiana and drives a Toyota Camry.