Should You Carry Medical Expense Coverage On Your Policy?

Author: Kathleen M. Smith, Fredericksburg, VA Personal Injury Attorney

Medical Expense coverage (sometimes known as "Medical Payments") is an optional coverage available on Virginia Automobile Policies. This coverage covers all reasonable and necessary medical expenses for injuries resulting from a motor vehicle collision, or even arising out of the use of a motor vehicle. Medical Payments coverage covers anyone named on the policy (the "named insured"), a spouse, and any relative residing in the household. It also covers anyone occupying a vehicle on the policy. It will pay the medical expenses regardless of any other insurance and regardless of who is at fault. Medical Expense coverage covers medical expenses incurred within 3 years after the date of the collision or injury.

Although it's an optional coverage because you don't have to have it, by law Medical Payments coverage must be offered by your insurance company. Medical Payments coverage is usually offered in amounts like $1,000, $2,000, $5,000, and sometimes $10,000. Under Virginia law, you can "stack" the coverage up to a maximum of 4 vehicles on one policy. For example, if you insure 3 cars and carry $1,000 Medical Payments coverage on each vehicle, you would "stack" the coverage if you are injured in an accident, so you really have a total of $3,000 limit for medical expenses.

Do you need Medical Expense coverage if you have health insurance?

If you have a good health insurance plan, it may not seem as critical to carry the coverage, but before you choose to drop it to save a little money, consider these questions: Does your health insurance plan have a deductible, co-pays, or co-insurance that would be out of pocket expenses? If your health plan is through your employer, how certain are you that you will remain with that employer? Does your health insurance pay for chiropractic treatment? Every year it seems like health insurance covers less, and the deductibles and co-pays get larger. Many people who have health insurance still find the Medical Expense coverage valuable in consideration of the medical costs that are not covered by health insurance. Keep in mind also that the most common way to suffer serious injury today is from a motor vehicle accident.

You may also want to consider whether or not you often have passengers in your vehicle. Remember Medical Payments coverage also extends to anyone in the vehicle who is injured in a motor vehicle collision. Typically passengers will be family or friends, and this will help cover them also.

Finally, consider this. Medical Expense coverage will "follow" you! If you are a passenger in another person's vehicle that does not have this coverage, your own policy would apply. If they do have this coverage, normally your Medical Payments coverage will provide additional (excess) coverage if your medical expenses are higher than their limit of coverage. Also, if you are a pedestrian and you are injured by a motorist, your Medical Payments coverage would extend to you.

Premiums for Medical Expense coverage are generally low, so it's inexpensive coverage to have. Typical rates are around $20 or less for $1,000 coverage, and, remember, you can "stack" that limit by the number of vehicles on the policy up to four. So, you should certainly consider carrying Medical Payments coverage to protect yourself and those who are in your vehicle. It's good coverage to have and is relatively inexpensive. All the attorneys in our office have it!

This article is intended to give an overview of Medical Payments coverage on your family automobile insurance policy. Please note that there are a number of exceptions and conditions to Medical Payments coverage, and you should consult an attorney if you have any questions as to how this coverage may apply in a specific situation.

About The Author: Kathleen is an attorney with the Allen Law Firm whose practice is focused specifically on personal injury cases. She has a wealth of courtroom experience which provides her with a competitive advantage when representing her clients. In addition to defending the rights of people who have been victims of someone else's negligence, Kathleen also serves as an adjunct professor at Strayer University.

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