When I meet with a prospective client who was seriously hurt in an auto accident in or around Norfolk, Virginia, once of the first questions I ask is, “do you have medical expense benefits coverage through your auto insurance policy?” Some people say yes, others give me a blank stare and ask if that’s the same thing as health insurance.
To be clear, medical expense benefits (a.k.a. med pay) are not the same as health insurance. In many ways, med pay is actually better than traditional health insurance in terms of getting you compensation for your medical bills related to an auto accident.
How Med Pay Works
Basically, if you accrue medical bills related to a car accident, truck accident, motorcycle accident, or virtually any other type of accident, you can access med pay benefits through your auto insurance policy to help cover those medical costs. For example, let’s say Norfolk resident X has $5,000 in med pay benefits under his Nationwide auto insurance policy. This resident gets into a serious car wreck on Interstate 264 (I-264) while heading to a Norfolk Tides game. The resident winds up with a $3,000 medical bill. Norfolk resident X can utilize med pay benefits to pay that medical bill off.
Are Med Pay Benefits Mandatory?
No, it is an optional form of additional coverage through your auto insurance policy. That is why some of my prospective clients will have no idea what I’m talking about when I ask about med pay. In fact, many auto insurance sales agents do not mention med pay when signing people up, or only mention small amounts of benefits like $2,000. Why? Because med pay is an extremely inexpensive supplementary form of coverage. Adding $5,000 or $10,000 in med pay benefits to your auto insurance policy usually only adds a few extra bucks to your premiums (this varies depending on a variety of factors including the company you sign up with, how many people are under the policy, etc.).
Med Pay Governed by State Law
Virginia Code § 38.2-2201 details specific requirements that auto insurance companies must follow if a claimant submits a medical bill and seeks reimbursement through their med pay benefits. The law stipulates that med pay coverage must extend to the driver and any passengers in a “covered” vehicle, as well as to any person in another vehicle injured in an accident involving your “covered” vehicle. Any pedestrian injuries related to an accident involving a covered vehicle will also be recoverable under medical payments coverage. As you can see, med pay benefits can be accessed in a wide range of circumstances.
In fact, med pay benefits can be utilized by the auto insurance policy holder at all times, even if you are riding in another person’s vehicle. This means if you (the policy holder) are hurt as a passenger in a friend’s vehicle, you can still file a med pay claim with your auto insurance company for your medical expense benefits.
Will My Auto Insurance Company Fight My Med Pay Claim?
Possibly. It depends on the amount of benefits you have under your policy and the amount of the medical bills you’re claiming fall under the benefits coverage. This is why it is important to have an experienced Norfolk personal injury lawyer in your side. I can help file the med pay claim and if a dispute arises with your insurance company, I can work to get it resolved so you can your benefits sooner rather than later.
Call me today to set up a time to talk about your potential case.