As a Tennessee car accident attorney, I am often asked why it is necessary to have medical payments coverage as part of an automobile insurance policy, especially if the car owner also has health insurance.
Frankly, it is possible that your medical payments ("med pay") coverage will do you little good if you are injured in a car wreck and also have health insurance. However, med pay coverage can be used to pay deductibles, co-pays, and items not covered by health insurance. If you have a health insurance plan that exposes you to minimal deductibles and co-pays and you can comfortably meet those expenses on your monthly income or with your savings, med pay coverage may not be a good investment.
However, my experience has been that many people do not have a financial reserve for these bills and, to the extent that they have a financial reserve it disappears quickly if the injury results in loss of income. Thus, med pay can provide a financial cushion and can avoid the all-too-common situation where medical bills from car accidents are sent to collection agencies.
Many people think that med pay is unnecessary because if the wreck is the fault of the other driver his or her insurance will pay the medical bills. In the long-run that is true: an at-fault driver must pay reasonable medical expenses incurred to diagnose and treat injuries caused in the wreck. But, in the short-run, the injured party is responsible for his or her own bills, and it is extremely rare for the at-fault driver’s insurance company to pay any portion of those bills until the entire case is resolved.
So, do you need med pay coverage? It depends on your financial situation, including the health insurance that you have in place. If you have a policy with a high deductible and significant co-pays and do not have a financial cushion that will let you absorb those expenses even if your income is also cut-off or reduced, med pay coverage can protect you from damage to your credit rating and help you get necessary medical treatment.