A car accident happens every 60 seconds according to The National Highway Traffic Administration which results in more than 5.2 million car accidents every year in the United States.
Many people think that their health insurance plan will cover their medical expenses if they are injured in a car accident but unfortunately, this is not always the case. As a general rule, health insurance will only pay for injuries if there is no other insurance available to cover the loss.
One of the first questions you are asked if you ever find yourself in the emergency room or if you are admitted to the hospital is, “Were you in a Car Accident?” If your answer to this question is yes, then your health insurer might take a back seat to your auto insurance medical coverage.
Your injuries will be treated but you will be billed for anything that was not be covered by your health insurance company – which sometimes, could be nothing at all!
Most health insurance companies will not move forward to pay a claim until all other claims have been denied. This can take a long time for your medical expenses to be covered.
This means your auto insurance coverage regarding almost all accidents, is responsible to pay for your medical expenses. If your auto coverage is inadequate, you could be stuck without enough insurance to pay for your injuries.
So before you get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, you should understand what protection you have and if it will actually cover your medical costs if you or a family member are in an accident.
How Injuries and Medical Expenses Are Covered
There are different types of coverages that deal with injuries and medical bills. Each type of coverage works together to protect you, your family, passengers or other drivers from many types of accident scenarios:
Personal injury protection (PIP): This coverage protects you, your family and passengers if you are injured in an automobile accident and sustain injuries. It is designed to cover medical expenses not covered by your health insurance company up to the policy limits.
PIP coverage generally, has low limits of coverage; $25,000 or $50,000 and some policies even have a deductible before coverage starts.
(Considering that the average stay in a hospital could cost as much as $10,000 a day, basic PIP insurance is hardly adequate for many people).
Additional PIP: Just like PIP coverage, but additional PIP increases the level of coverage for medical expenses if you or your family are injured in an automobile accident.
Additional coverage amounts usually start at $50,000 up to $150,000. It is not offered by some insurance companies and sometimes this extra level of protection is overlooked by people who are trying to save money on their auto premiums.
Medical Coverage: Usually has limits of $5000 or $10,000 and is designed to cover initial medical expenses from a car accident such as your health plan deducible, ambulatory services, emergency aid and so on.
Bodily Injury Liability: Pays for injuries that you cause to another person(s) in an automobile accident. If you are at fault for the accident, your insurance pays for the other person’s medical expenses and injuries. This coverage has no deductible and pays up to the limit specified in your policy. Once the limit is exhausted, the insurance company will no longer pay.
Uninsured and Under-Insured Motorist: This coverage protects you when you are in an accident with a driver who has no insurance or has inadequate coverage to pay for your injuries and medical expenses. This coverage also pays for damages to your vehicle.
Will My Health Insurance Cover Follow Up Doctor Visits and Care?
If you need ongoing care or therapy after your accident from a doctor or hospital, the facility will ask what caused your injuries. Once they determine that your injuries were related to an auto accident, they will provide you with specific claim forms to complete.
These forms will require information about your health insurance company, your auto insurance company and the auto policy of the other driver(s) involved in the accident. This allows the medical provider to determine who should be billed for your ongoing care and treatment.
The medical provider and insurance companies will work on your behalf behind the scenes to determine who will pay for your ongoing medical expenses. You may receive bills for expenses that are denied by your health insurance company while the insurance companies are trying to decide who will pay for what.
This whole process can be very frustrating and even financially devastating if you always assumed your health insurance plan will cover you if you are in a car accident.