When you purchase auto insurance in Virginia(1), there are several types of coverage on the policy that are optional.  One of these is Medical Payments coverage.  Medical Payments coverage is a “first party coverage” which you may purchase in addition to the basic liability coverage when you insure your vehicle in Virginia.  By law, the insurance company must offer this coverage to you.[2] Medical Payments coverage reimburses you for medical expenses even if the bill has been paid by your health insurance provider, as long as the treatment was for an injury involving a motor vehicle.[3]

By law, the medical payment coverage will pay, up to the limit of the coverage, for those expenses incurred for services rendered within three (3) years from the date of the accident.  It applies to anyone who may be occupying your vehicle with permission.  The coverage also applies if you are struck by an automobile while as a pedestrian, a bicyclist, or even as a passenger in someone else’s car or on a motorcycle.  However, if you are operating another vehicle that you own that is covered by a policy that does not have medical payments coverage, then you are not covered.  Medical payments coverage also pays regardless of who is at fault or any other insurance coverage that may applies to the same expenses.  So even if you are driving down the road, fall asleep at the wheel, run off the road and hit a tree, medical payments coverage will pay your medical expenses for any injuries you sustain.

Medical payments coverage is good coverage to have for a lot of reasons.  First, auto accidents are the most common cause of serious injuries in the United States today.  Second, many times health insurance has deductibles or co-pays, so that you may still owe a significant amount after health insurance pays their part.  Medical payments coverage will help pay most or all of that, so that you don’t end up having to pay out of your pocket. Third, medical payments coverage is relatively inexpensive. Often a limit of two to five thousand dollars may cost less than fifty dollars a year. Fourth, medical payments coverage covers not only you but your spouse and children who live with you also.

Check the Declaration Page of your auto insurance policy to see if you have medial payments coverage.[4] If you don’t, then discuss purchasing this coverage with your insurance agent.  You can add this coverage at any time.  Many of our clients who don’t have this coverage wish they did.[5]

[1] In general, auto insurance is governed by the law of each state.  For that reason, the requirements and coverages of an automobile insurance policy vary from state to state. This article focuses on the requirements and coverages under the law in Virginia.

[2] See Va. Code §38.2-2201, at http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+38.2-2201 .

[3] The form Personal Auto Insurance Policy in Virginia states the injury must be caused by an accident and either while “occupying” a motor vehicle or being struck as a pedestrian. “Occupying” is defined as “in, upon, or getting in, out or off” of a motor vehicle.  (There are further exclusions limiting coverage to only four wheel motor vehicles and those designed for use mainly on public roads).  See Personal Auto Insurance Form Policy at http://www.scc.virginia.gov/division/boi/webpages/auto/PP00010105.pdf.

[4] The “Declaration Page” is the page that shows your name and address, the policy number, what vehicles are covered, what coverages you have, and the premium for each overage.  Normally the word “Declarations” appears somewhere on the page.

[5]This article attempts to summarize what medical payments coverage is and what it covers. There are a number of conditions, exceptions, and limitations which apply and are beyond the scope of this article. For more information, consult with an attorney who specializes in Automobile Insurance claims.