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What is “Med Pay,” And Should You Have It?

The following post is part of our Law Student Blog Writing Project, and is authored by Jessie Smith, a law student from the University of Kentucky.

Medical payment insurance, (commonly referred to as simply “med pay” insurance) is an often overlooked, but nonetheless, useful element of most drivers’ automobile insurance policies. Unfortunately, many people are either unaware that their auto insurance policies include med pay coverage, are unfamiliar with what med pay coverage actually is, or are unwilling to contact their insurer to inquire about med pay coverage, despite how important such coverage may be in the event of an accident. The goal of this blog post is to explain the concept of med pay insurance, exploring what, exactly, med pay is, when it should pay an insured driver, how drivers can obtain it, and whether acquiring med pay coverage is a good idea. In addition, the statute that establishes med pay coverage in Ohio will be analyzed, and insurers’ obligations under that statute will be discussed.

Before you start, please realize that “med pay” is different than “PIP”, which stands for personal injury protection. Lawrence & Associates has a blog post about PIP, which take the place of med pay for Kentucky automobile insurance policies.

What is “Med Pay” Insurance?

Before discussing the more complex questions referenced in the introduction, it is necessary to provide an answer to a very basic question – what exactly is “med pay” insurance? The simplest answer to that question is that med pay coverage is a component of many automobile insurance policies, which will pay medical bills that are the result of an automobile accident. A more detailed answer is that med pay coverage permits a driver that has been injured in an accident to submit their medical bills to their insurance providers for payment, regardless of whether said driver was the cause of the accident. The coverage is not limited to just the driver; it extends to any occupants of the driver’s vehicle, as well.

The inevitable questions that arise from these descriptions of med pay insurance are: why does one need med pay insurance if they already have health insurance? Is med pay insurance really necessary, or will it only serve as an excuse for insurance companies to increase one’s premiums? Will taking the additional steps necessary to acquire med pay coverage really pay off if one is involved in an accident?

The short answer to these questions is that, yes, obtaining med pay insurance is, generally, a good idea, and most drivers should probably consider contacting their insurer to determine whether their policy includes med pay coverage, and, if not, how they can go about getting it. A more detailed, satisfying answer to these questions will be discussed in the following section, entitled “Is Obtaining Med Pay Insurance a Good Idea?”

Is Obtaining Med Pay Insurance a Good Idea?

Obtaining or retaining med pay coverage is a good idea for most drivers. Although many will believe that med pay only serves to increase the amount of money that they have to shell out every month for their auto insurance policies, or are under the false impression that health insurance coverage will suffice to cover the expenses of injuries sustained in auto accidents, or even believe that injuries sustained in accidents that are the fault of another driver will be reimbursed by that driver through their insurance or as the result of a lawsuit, these assertions are ungrounded or are simply false. The benefits provided by Med Pay far outweigh any negative aspects of obtaining coverage.

First, med pay coverage will do little to increase most drivers’ premiums. Generally speaking, such coverage is very inexpensive. Insurance.com states that the cost of adding med pay coverage to one’s auto insurance policy is as cheap as about $5.00 a month under most policies. When this cost is compared to the amount of coverage one receives in exchange, which is typically about $5,000 to $10,000 per person, the economic feasibility and financial sense provided by med pay coverage becomes apparent.

Second, even if one has health insurance, most would agree that obtaining med pay coverage is nevertheless a good idea. Many drivers choose to get med pay coverage in order to bolster their existing health insurance plans. However, many drivers with health insurance choose to also get med pay because many health insurance policies are accompanied by high deductibles, co-pays, etc., that saddle the policy holder with the responsibility of paying a certain amount of medical expenses out-of-pocket and upfront before the health insurance company steps in to cover anything. Med pay, however, has no deductible or co-pay, and it pays medical costs quickly. Another advantage of med pay over typical health insurance policies is that med pay will provide coverage for a plethora of expenses that many health insurance policies will not, including ambulance fees, chiropractor fees, dental fees, etc.

Third, any notion that med pay coverage is unnecessary because of a potential suit against another at-fault driver should be dispelled immediately. Even if one is involved in a multiple-vehicle accident (keep in mind that med pay coverage extends to single-car accidents, as well, as it is not limited to multiple-car accidents), and even if the other driver(s) were partially or totally at fault, bringing suit against them is long process – a process that may take months, or even years, before any sort of damages will be awarded. Additionally, simply bringing a claim does not guarantee success; the aforementioned years-long legal battle may end in the plaintiff having been awarded an amount less than what they expected, or even having been awarded no damages at all. Med pay coverage, however, pays medical costs almost immediately, and is not contingent on the outcome of years of litigation.

Conclusion

In conclusion, given the myriad of benefits that become available once med pay coverage is obtained, most insured drivers should take steps to acquire med pay coverage if their current policy does not provide for its inclusion. Med pay coverage will provide for payment of medical fees that are not typically covered by many health insurance policies, and will often provide for quick payment of these bills. These benefits, and others, can be obtained for as little as $5.00 a month under most auto policies, but will deliver to the insured the advantage of, typically, $5,000 to $10,000 in benefits in the event of an accident. Because of the multiple advantages associated with med pay, and because of its low cost, it makes economic and financial sense for most drivers to do whatever necessary to secure med pay coverage.

Have you been injured in a car accident, live in Ohio, and do you have additional questions about med pay? Call Lawrence & Associates today for a free consultation! We’re Working Hard for the Working Class, and we want to help you!