What is Medical Payments Coverage?
Medical payments coverage — often called Med Pay — provides medical and/or funeral expenses after an auto accident. Med Pay is typically expressed as a coverage limit on your insurance policy and does not feature a deductible. Medical payments coverage for car insurance is currently required in only New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Maine, but can be added as optional coverage in other states.
Table of contents
- What does medical payments coverage cover?
- What's the difference between PIP and Med Pay?
- What's the difference between PIP, Med Pay, and health insurance?
- Home insurance and medical payments coverage
- Renters insurance and medical payments coverage
- Additional resources
Med Pay covers only bodily injuries directly related to a car accident. Medical payments coverage applies regardless of who was deemed at-fault in the collision. After an incident, Med Pay covers costs such as:
- Medical treatment
- EMT/ambulance fees
- Hospital expenditures, like X-rays
- Aftercare bills
- Funeral expenses
Med Pay has two unique features:
- Medical payments coverage applies if you're injured outside of your vehicle. If you're injured by a vehicle as a pedestrian or while riding a bike, Med Pay would cover the costs.
- Med Pay follows the policyholder, as opposed to following the vehicle (like car insurance). For instance, medical payments coverage would cover you in the event of a collision that occurs while riding in a friend's car.
A state-by-state breakdown of Med Pay availability can be found at the end of the article.
What is not covered by Med Pay?
Med Pay offers no liability coverage or protection for physical damage to your or another driver’s vehicle.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and Med Pay each cover both your and your passengers' bodily injury costs after a car accident. However, PIP is required in more states and offers more coverage options than does Med Pay. In addition to the direct medical care and surgical coverage offered by Med Pay, PIP offers coverage for lost wages and rehabilitation expenses.
Which is better: Med Pay or PIP?
If you live in one of the 12 states that require no-fault insurance, you'll be required to carry PIP. If you’re required to carry PIP, it doesn’t make much sense to carry Med Pay as well. PIP coverage provides more comprehensive protection than does Med Pay, making the additional coverage superfluous.
If you’re not in a state that requires no-fault insurance, you might not be able to purchase PIP. Depending on your health insurance coverage, carrying Med Pay might be a good idea. Certain health care plans might not pay out if you’re injured in a car accident. In this case, purchasing Med Pay could be a prudent move.
Even if your healthcare does cover car accidents, having Med Pay might be a good option if your coverage isn’t great. Med Pay can help reimburse your deductibles and co-pays if you use your health care first after a car accident.
Which option is right for you depends on your location and your health insurance coverage. Health insurance is designed to cover medical bills. Depending on your health plan and state, medical expenses related to a car accident may be excluded from your health insurance coverage. In this case, you would rely on PIP or Med Pay.
Health insurance providers can deny claims because Med Pay or PIP acts as the primary insurance provider. If your Med Pay is secondary, meaning your health care covers the medical expenses first, you might be able to use Med Pay to cover your deductible.
Either way, having PIP or Med Pay and health care will ensure you don't pay out-of-pocket healthcare expenses after a collision. See our guide on auto insurance vs. health insurance for more information.
Also known as Coverage F in your home insurance policy, medical payments to others is reserved for covering the medical expenses of a guest if they injure themselves on your property. For instance, if the nanny trips on something and fractures a bone, your medical payments coverage will kick in to cover the nanny's treatment at the hospital. Coverage limits for Coverage F are typically quite low compared to your liability limit — it usually ranges from $1,000 to $5,000.
How is Med Pay coverage different from liability insurance?
The key difference between liability and Med Pay is that liability limits are much, much higher; this is because liability covers more than just medical expenses. Liability coverage also encompasses legal fees if you're sued for causing damage to someone else. In short, liability covers property damage and bodily injury you cause, while Med Pay only covers bodily injuries and comes with a much smaller limit.
Med Pay is meant to help you avoid potential litigation by settling small claims. It does not have the scope of coverage liability provides, and only covers the medical expenses of the injured person regardless of who is at fault.
Similar to the way Med Pay coverage works for homeowners, this coverage in your renters insurance will cover the medical expenses of someone who is injured while on your rental property. If your friend comes over to help you with a task and accidentally breaks a finger, you can use your medical payments coverage to cover your friend's treatment — no matter who is at fault for the injury. Med Pay helps policyholders avoid having small claims snowball into a situation where they are sued; if it comes to this point, then your liability coverage would come into play, and your insurer would need to spend much more money defending you in court.
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