Purchasing automobile insurance that meets only the minimal requirements is risky. Consider two options not required in the state of Georgia that are recommended protections for you and your family’s well-being after an accident: Medical Payments (Med Pay or “MP”) and Uninsured Motorist (“UM”) coverage.
Consider the advantages of Med Pay and UM coverage. Med Pay is an available addition to a standard auto insurance policy to help cover medical expenses after an accident regardless of who’s at fault – and using your Med Pay coverage will not raise your insurance rates. Your major medical policy is not good coverage for injuries received in a motor vehicle accident due to the deductibles, co-payments, and no coverage provided for the occupants of your car. The Uninsured Motorist (UM) option takes the place of insurance coverage the at-fault driver didn’t have.
When the at-fault driver does have insurance, a common misconception is that their insurance company will issue direct payments to health care providers (hospitals, medical doctors, chiropractors, physical therapists, etc.) treating you for your injuries. It may sound ridiculous, but when another driver hits your car and is at fault, there is no Georgia law requiring the at-fault party’s insurance (liability carrier) to pay your medical bills! Health care providers can bill the at-fault driver’s insurer, but these bills will accumulate unpaid. The expectation is that payment of those bills will be drawn from any settlement reached between the at-fault party’s insurer and you and/or your attorney. By having Med Pay and UM coverage in place, many of those bills could be satisfied up front long before your case is settled, and will put you in a much better financial position.
CALL YOUR INSURANCE AGENT TODAY TO DISCUSS MED PAY AND UM COVERAGE OPTIONS!
Frequently, people who think they have “full coverage” don’t have Med Pay or UM coverage. Don’t make that mistake. Also consider:
- strong>Having high liability limits, particularly if you have a teenage driver on your policy!
- The importance of starting treatment ASAP after an injury. Interruptions in care of over a week in the early stages of treatment are interpreted by insurance companies as less medically necessary (“this person must not be hurt very badly”). Interruptions in care can severely damage your injury claim and the ability to get a fair settlement from the liability carrier. How busy you are with other things in your life is not a factor in the claim equation. If injured, get the care you need consistently until you’re well.
If you don’t have Med Pay at the time of your accident, there are alternatives for getting the health care treatments you need.
- Hire an attorney to represent you, and agree to an attorney lien. Attorney liens allow negotiations with health care providers, to gain agreement from all parties that you’ll pay for your health care treatment from the settlement of your personal injury claim against the at-fault party.
- Make payments yourself to the health care providers and file for reimbursement through your attorney.
- Turn to any other health insurance you have, but anticipate the challenges of built-in deductibles, copayments, provider exclusions, and possible restrictions on the duration and treatment types accepted). With increasing frequency, some health insurance policies won’t pay for treatment of injuries from auto accidents.
Expect that the liability carrier will contact you or your attorney asking when you’ve completed treatment. When they have that information in hand, the liability carrier will offer a lump sum settlement to close the case. Sometimes what’s offered is less than the sum total of one’s medical bills and other expenses! This is where an attorney’s involvement is invaluable.
BEFORE DISCUSSING ANY RELEASE WITH THE AT-FAULT PARTY OR LIABILITY CARRIER, consider that:
- Your health care bills could exceed the at fault driver’s policy limits in effect at the time of the accident.
- Without collision or uninsured motorist coverage (UM) you could lose the value of your car as well. You can sue the other driver, if they have any assets. In or out of court, the settlement process can be lengthy; it’s not uncommon to take over a year!
- If you’ve missed income due to injury, loss of your car or incurred unpaid medical bills, you could be in a deep financial hole. Such situations have led many to seek bankruptcy protection.
- If you or a family member don’t make a complete recovery and need ongoing treatment, how will you provide long term assistance? A premature settlement of the case may leave resources short in handling future health care needs.
- After using your health insurance for care upon an auto injury, and getting a settlement from the liability carrier or at-fault party, you discover your health insurance company has a legal right to be paid back what they spent in medical bills out of your settlement [subrogation rights], leaving you with far less than from your final settlement.