Medical Payments Coverage: Get a Check Instead of Writing One!

Quote from a friend:

“We practically never went to the doctor when we were kids. We always lived in little Podunk towns 50 miles from anywhere, and we couldn’t afford it anyway. We didn’t even get to stay home from school if we were sick. Unless we had a fever of 104 and were bleeding out the ears, our parents just said, ‘Go on and go to school. You’ll feel better when you get there.'”

While this anonymous friend might be exaggerating the part about “bleeding out the ears,” it’s not hard to understand his point. After all, teaching kids to tough it out was a recommended parenting style well into the mid-twentieth century.

“Access to medical care continues to be problematic in some areas, and there’s no argument that it can be prohibitively expensive, no matter where you live,” explains Bill Lawrence, CIC, and President of P/L/R Insurance. “But accidents happen every day, and as insurance pros, it’s our job to prepare for the worst, so we talk to all of our clients about their Medical Payments (Med Pay) coverage on their existing insurance policies.”

Medical payments coverage is a normal part of auto or homeowner’s insurance, but there is one big difference.  Med pay on an auto policy covers the insured or anyone on or about the vehicle.  Med pay on homeowners does not cover the insured.  It only provides “third-party” coverage.

Med Pay for Auto Insurance

On an auto policy, Med Pay can help pay you or your passengers’ medical expenses if you get hurt in an auto accident or even slam your hand in the car door, no matter who is at fault. Med Pay limits are typically lower than Bodily Injury or Property Damage (BI/PD) liability coverage, usually between $1,000 and $5,000. We believe it’s best to maintain lower med pay limits.

Why pay for damages for which you are not legally liable?

It also differs from BI/PD coverage in that those only pay for the other party’s medical expenses, not yours.

Suppose you’re injured in an auto accident and transported to the emergency room by ambulance. In that case, you’ll probably have to pay a deductible before your health insurance kicks in. You’ll need to pay for the ambulance transport, too.

The Med Pay benefits would usually apply to help cover both the deductible and the ambulance ride, essentially paying for itself with just one claim.

With Med Pay, you’ll have protection for you and your passengers that may include claims for:

  • Health insurance deductibles and co-pays
  • Doctor or hospital visits
  • Surgeries and x-rays
  • Ambulance and EMT fees
  • Dental work related to the accident
  • Injuries incurred as a pedestrian, or even if you’re riding a bicycle

If the worst should happen, Med Pay may also cover funeral expenses.

Med Pay for Homeowners

Similarly, adding Med Pay to your homeowner’s policy helps to protect you when people are accidentally injured on your property or in adjacent areas like an alley or a sidewalk.

If your neighbor comes over to help you shovel snow, for example, then slips on the ice and breaks his arm, your Med Pay coverage would help to pay his medical bills. This protection extends past your property line in some cases, so you could be covered even if you’re at the dog park and your dog bites someone.

Med Pay for homeowners covers injuries to others no matter who is at fault. Med Pay limits are lower, intended to cover short-term expenses related to an accident, usually $1,000-$5,000, as explained above.

Med Pay differs from the liability coverage on your homeowner’s policy because liability only covers expenses if you or your family member are found to be legally liable for the accident. Liability coverage on your homeowner’s policy has much higher limits, usually at least $300,000.

“It’s a good idea to understand the Med Pay coverage on your homeowner’s policy, particularly if you’ve added amenities to your yard, like a swimming pool or a trampoline,” Lawrence continues.

“Amenities are not limited to the obvious, though. I once had a client who added a zip line to his backyard, unbeknownst to P/L/R. Sure enough, a ten-year-old neighbor kid came over, rode that zip line straight into a tree, and got seriously injured. Fortunately, the child eventually recovered, and the homeowner had both Med Pay and a higher liability limit on his policy. The client’s Med Pay and liability paid all the medical expenses, and nobody had to go to court.”

“The bottom line? Be sure and tell your insurance agent when you add anything that could be dangerous to your property. Swing set? Swimming pool? 4-wheeler? ZIP LINE?”

“We can help you protect the home you’ve worked so hard for, but only if we know what we’re trying to protect you from!” Lawrence warns.

If you drive a motor vehicle or if your house is the gathering place for everyone in the neighborhood because you have the best yard, you should understand how Medical Payments work on your auto and homeowner’s policies.

Don’t wait until the neighbor kid rides your zip line into a tree. Call the pros at P/L/R today for a quote and enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing your assets are properly protected.

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