Motor Vehicle Medical Expense Insurance Coverage – Part 2

Motor Vehicle Medical Expense Insurance Coverage

In my last article, the topic was Bodily Injury Insurance for your Motor Vehicle.  In this blog post, I am going to talk about medical insurance included in your automobile insurance coverage, which many people fail to have sufficient coverage.

I do a fair amount of personal injury work arising out of motor vehicle accidents in many counties in southeastern Pennsylvania.  When an injured party comes into my office after his or her involvement in a serious motor vehicle accident, I immediately review the potential client’s motor vehicle insurance policy to determine whether the client has sufficient medical expense coverage to take care of his or her medical provider bills resulting from personal injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident.  Why?  Because it is your motor vehicle insurance carrier who is responsible to pay your medical bills.  Neither the other party who was involved in the accident and who was negligent, nor his insurance carrier, is responsible to pay your medical bills, even though that party may be 100% negligent in causing your injuries.  That is what no-fault insurance provides.  It does not matter who is at fault in a motor vehicle accident.  The carrier for whomever sustains injuries as a result of the accident is responsible to pay for the medical provider bills.

To be legal under Pennsylvania law, the minimum amount of medical expense insurance coverage that you must purchase is $5,000.  I have seen in my practice that many people tend to opt for the minimum $5,000 to $10,000 medical coverage because they feel they are saving substantial monies in insurance premiums.  Do you know how far $5,000 or $10,000 will go if you are transported to a hospital or trauma center? Just a helicopter transport to a trauma hospital from the scene of the accident can cost $15,000 to $25,000.  The daily rate for a hospital room in most hospitals is several thousand dollars.  As a result, your medical provider expenses could be as high as $30,000 to $100,000, depending on the seriousness of your injuries.

Many of my clients have related to me that they rely on their employer’s hospitalization insurance; and therefore, they only purchase the minimum of $5,000 medical coverage from their motor vehicle carrier.  In other words, when their motor vehicle insurance carrier exhausts its $5,000 medical coverage, the client then relies on his hospitalization insurance at his or her place of employment.  And, in most cases, the hospitalization carrier will pay for the medical provider bills over $5,000.  But such reliance may be misplaced, particularly if the employer-provided insurance is an HMO, which is rather common in the workplace.  Under HMO insurance plans, the HMO has the right to subrogate.  That means that the HMO, if it pays for personal injury medical provider bills incurred by a person in a motor vehicle accident, the HMO stands in the shoes of the injured party, and can collect, and will collect the amount the HMO has paid for your medical provider bills.  It will get paid from the proceeds of any settlement or monetary award from a Court.  In other words, any award obtained by the injured party for his or her personal injuries, may be reduced by the amount that the HMO has paid for medical provider bills.  Therefore, I always encourage my clients to purchase a minimum of $100,000 medical coverage in their vehicle insurance coverage.

Quite frankly, you may be surprised at how small your motor vehicle insurance premium will increase if you buy $100,000 of medical expense versus the minimum of $5,000 coverage.  The increased cost is often not significant.  Call your insurance agent to see how much more it would cost you a year to increase your medical coverage to $100,000. It is well worth your investment.

In my next article, I will continue this series on motor vehicle insurance coverage by discussing limited tort versus full tort. So, stay tuned.

Contact us with any additional questions regarding motor vehicle medical expense insurance coverage.

— Written by Richard D. Linderman, Esq.

DISCLAIMER: The contents of this blog are not legal advice, and are not to be used for that purpose.  If you are faced with a legal matter, you should contact a lawyer immediately in order to ensure that you are protected.