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Medical Payments

Written by Todd Clay. Posted in Definitions Last Updated: 10/08/2010

Med pay in no-fault states, how it works, and the critical need for getting medical payments coverage on your motorcycle policy

fire truck, ambulance, vehicle upside down

Somebody may need 'med pay' after this accident.

Medical payments, aka “med pay”, coverage is one of the least understood yet potentially most important secondary coverage on any auto insurance policy.

In order to maximize its use, one needs to not only know what it does, but what it doesn’t do and even when you don’t need it.

The No-Fault Question on Med Pay

Many people believe if they’re in an accident that their liability coverage will cover them and their passengers if they’re injured. This is only partially true.

If you live in a “no fault” auto insurance state this is indeed the case. No fault liability auto insurance by definition pays for your car and your interests only. Because of this, there is no need for separate medical payments coverage in no fault states. If you live in one of these states, you can skip the rest of this article.

However, most people live in a “traditional tort” auto insurance state, or a state where auto liability insurance only pays for injuries and damages to others if you’re found at fault. If you or your passengers are injured, there is no coverage under your traditional tort liability auto insurance policy. This can pose a significant problem for both you and your friends if you’re in an accident.

Never fear, however. Insurance agents in traditional tort states offer an optional coverage designed to “keep your friends your friends.” Hence, medical payments coverage is widely available as an option.

How Medical Payments Coverage Works

Similar to auto liability, medical payments coverage is offered as a limit rather than a deductible. While exact options range from company to company, these limits range from a modest $1,000 to a more robust $10,000 or more.

Medical payments coverage is often quite inexpensive. Many agents often include it in their quotes whether you ask for it or not. They do that not because they’re trying to gouge you (they actually don’t make that much on it to begin with), but rather because they think it’s that important.

Remember medical payments coverage covers both you and any passengers. It also covers you above and beyond any medical insurance you may have. If you have excellent, low deductible medical insurance, you may want to consider a low medical payments limit or dropping it entirely. If not, you definitely want the medical payments coverage.

Medical Payments and Motorcycles

To state the obvious, motorcycle drivers and riders are much more exposed to the elements than their contemporaries in cars and pickups. Logic follows they’re therefore considerably more likely to sustain personal injury in an accident.

As a result, when considering bike insurance one should also consider the highest medical payments limits available. It’s definitely more important on a motorcycle policy than an auto policy.

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Todd Clay

Todd Clay is a former insurance agent with the largest insurance company in the United States. He earned his Bachelor’s from the University of Texas. He’s worked in several fields but has specialized in insurance, financial-related information, and technology. He blogs at Car Insurance Guidebook.

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