Car accidents are a major cause of injuries and death, especially among young people. Before you get behind the wheel, it’s a good idea to understand what protection is in place to help cover the costs of an accident. While you may be prepared to use car insurance to cover the cost of your vehicle repairs, you may not carry adequate medical coverage on your car insurance policy.

Most people assume that health insurance will cover all of their medical expenses regardless of what happens. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, and you may end up reliant on car insurance to cover your doctor visits instead. If your car insurance is insufficient, you could be stuck without enough insurance to pay for your injuries at all.

Car Insurance and Medical Expenses

There are several car insurance coverages that deal with injuries, and each applies in a different case:

– Personal injury protection (PIP) coverage generally has a fairly low limit. It pays for injuries that an individual sustains in an auto accident, but usually serves to augment a medical insurance policy. PIP coverage may cover the cost of a person’s medical deductible, but it will usually only pay for the full doctor’s visit if the expenses are minor.

– Bodily injury liability pays for injuries that a person causes to another individual. Whenever you’re at fault for an accident, your insurance pays for the other person’s damages and injuries; the same is true in reverse whenever somebody else hits you. This coverage has no deductible and pays up to a limit. Once the limit is exhausted, the insurance company will no longer pay out.

– Medical payments coverage is a first-party insurance like PIP, but it has higher limits and covers more expenses. Most people carry medical payments coverage if they live in a no-fault state where their own insurance is required to pay for their medical costs and they cannot claim third-party.

– Uninsured and under-insured motorist coverages serve to replace bodily injury liability whenever a person is involved in an accident with someone who has no insurance or whose insurance is insufficient to cover the accident. In some states, your insurance company can also dip into these coverages to pay for accidents that are especially severe if no other coverage is available.

Will my Health Insurance cover car accident injuries?

As a rule, medical insurance will pay for injuries only if no other insurance will cover the loss. This is true of all types of injuries. For example, a medical insurance company may refuse to treat an injury that happens while you’re at work until the company is sure you won’t be receiving any worker’s compensation. The same is true of car accidents.

If you do not have car insurance or your insurance has no medical coverages, your health insurance company will most likely cover the cost of your injuries if you were the only person involved in the accident. If another person was involved in the collision, the health insurance company will wait to see if the other party is at fault and their insurance will cover your injuries.

Because most health insurance companies will not move forward with a claim until all other claims have been denied, it can take quite a long time to have your medical expenses covered. Fortunately, most medical providers are familiar with this process. You will usually be treated up front and billed for anything that will not be covered by an insurance company. This is good news at the time of the accident, but it can be a major inconvenience if you receive a medical bill months later for something you had assumed was covered.

What Happens When I go to the Doctor after an Accident?

Whenever you go to a doctor’s office or hospital, the staff will ask what caused your injuries. When they determine that the injuries are the result of an auto accident, they will provide you with specific paperwork to fill out.

This paperwork will ask for information about your medical insurance, car insurance and the insurance policy of the other parties involved in the accidents if applicable. This allows the medical provider to determine who should be billed for what and gets the billing department in contact with the insurance companies.

The insurance companies and the medical provider will work behind the scenes to determine who pays for what, and you may not be present for all of these steps. You may receive bills for things that are denied, or you might need to call to add subsequent providers or get payment for prescription drugs or therapy services, but otherwise you will be fairly removed from the medical claims process until it is resolved.

One or more injury adjusters from your insurance company will be assigned to determine what coverages will apply to your loss and how the settlement should be handled. There are many variables involved in how coverages are applied, and each claim is different, so be sure to ask questions of your adjuster for a specific claim situation. If you have any questions throughout the handling of your claim, you can contact the adjusters and ask for assistance.

When to Get an Attorney

Medical claims are complex, and the more insurance companies involved, the more complicated the process becomes. If you’re in a situation where multiple car insurance companies are working with your health insurance to cover very expensive medical care, you may want to get the assistance of an attorney.

Depending on the situation, the attorney will be able to help negotiate a higher settlement for you and explain the process in terms that you will understand. A good attorney will be invaluable in helping you settle a claim. Be aware, however, that once you hire an attorney, your ability to communicate with the insurance companies will be limited.

It may be best to discuss your options with an attorney before retaining one. This consultation might clarify your questions and help you decide how to proceed with your medical claim.