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Medical Payments Coverage

We sometimes hear about “no fault” auto insurance coverage in other states, including Michigan.  Indeed, the compensation laws for auto accident claims vary from state to state.  But even those with Ohio insurance polices may be surprised to find that their own insurance carrier can be called upon to pay for accident-related medical bills regardless of fault.Buried inside the policy booklet of many auto policies is a section entitled “Medical Payments Coverage” or “med pay”.  The standard policy will have language that states the insurance company will pay reasonable medical expenses for bodily injury caused by accident within a certain period (up to 3 years) after a crash. The policy will define who is an “insured person” and may have other conditions as well, but these conditions will not involve proof of negligence or fault by either motorist.This type of coverage is not required by Ohio law; it is an optional coverage and will not be available on certain state-minimum coverage policies.  Medical payment coverage is usually limited to $5,000 per person, per accident.  However the limits can be as low as $1,000 or as high as $100,000.By way of example, let’s assume Betsy and Ross are in their own car when they are injured in a collision caused by another motorist (George).  George’s insurance company is going to pay on this claim –eventually—but only when Betsy and Ross agree to sign a “full and final release of all claims.” The couple will not be in a position to settle for months because of ongoing medical treatment.Betsy and Ross should have their health insurance carrier pay their medical bills and use their own auto carrier’s medical payments coverage to pick up those charges not paid by health insurance.  When the case is finally settled with George’s liability insurance company, Betsy and Ross can reimburse their own insurers.  Under this approach, the at-fault motorist’s insurance pays the damages George caused, but Betsy and Ross can get payments to their doctors in a more timely fashion.  Also, they are not pressed to settle their case before they are ready to--just to pay off medial bills.Coordinating the various insurance coverages can be confusing, and to make certain you are receiving the benefits of your policies you’ve paid for, it’s wise to contact an attorney to assist you in this regard.Jim Yavorcik is a board certified civil trial attorney with the firm of Cubbon and Associates in Toledo. Contact him at jy@cubbon.com

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