In auto insurance, the difference between medical payments and bodily injury coverage is that medical payments (MedPay) insurance covers the policyholder, while bodily injury coverage applies to a third-party. Liability insurance only ever pays for damage caused to others, but MedPay applies regardless of fault. In addition, bodily injury coverage is required in almost every state, while medical payments insurance is only required in Maine and New Hampshire.
Medical Payments vs. Bodily Injury Auto Insurance Coverage
Injuries to the Policyholder
Injuries Caused by the Policyholder to Another Driver
Required in Most States?
The bottom line is that bodily injury liability and medical payments auto insurance coverage pay for similar things but in different situations. You can only file a bodily injury claim with an at-fault driver's liability insurance. But if you cause the accident yourself, you need to file a claim with your own medical payments insurance, or with your personal injury protection (PIP) coverage if you don’t have MedPay.
Furthermore, medical payments insurance is often used as supplementary coverage to a health insurance plan, since MedPay can help you avoid expensive deductibles, copays, and coinsurance costs. MedPay can also be used if the policyholder is walking or biking instead of driving when a collision occurs.
You should have at least as much bodily injury liability insurance coverage as your state requires, and it’s good to purchase coverage limits that are equal to your assets. Maintaining enough bodily injury liability insurance to cover your net worth is recommended to prevent lawsuits.
Bodily injury liability coverage pays for other drivers’ and passengers’ injuries when the policyholder is at fault in an accident. Bodily injury liability can cover medical bills, funeral expenses, lost wages, legal fees, and other related costs.… read full answer
How Much Bodily Injury Liability You Need
Drivers everywhere except New Hampshire, Virginia, and remote parts of Alaska are required to carry at least their state’s minimum required amount of bodily injury liability coverage. And in every state, you are legally responsible for serious injuries resulting from car accidents that you cause.
In most states, if your bodily injury limits are not high enough to pay for all the medical bills from an accident, the not-at-fault driver and their passengers can sue you for any uncompensated expenses. Drivers with a high net worth are especially vulnerable targets for lawsuits if their bodily injury coverage does not pay for all of the other driver’s expenses.
Consequently, you should have enough bodily injury liability coverage to equal your assets, rather than just carrying your state’s minimum. After all, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners reports that the average bodily injury liability claim in 2016, the latest year with data, was $19,201 – more than some states require in coverage.
If you need more coverage than car insurance companies sell, you can always purchase an umbrella policy to keep your assets from being seized in the event of a lawsuit.
Bodily Injury Liability Requirements by State
Limit (per person)
CA, LA, PA
CT, HI, ID, MA, MI
NY, IL, OH, GA, and 30 others
MN, NC, TX, VA
Bodily Injury Liability Limits Example
The limits for bodily injury liability will usually be displayed as 15/30 or $15,000/$30,000, which is the minimum required for California. These numbers mean that, for any given accident, a driver's bodily injury liability insurance will cover:
$15,000 for injuries sustained by any one person
$30,000 for injuries sustained by all people involved in the accident
Medical payments insurance (MedPay) covers medical bills for the policyholder and their passengers after a car accident, regardless of who was responsible for the crash. For example, MedPay covers hospital and ambulance expenses, nursing costs, funeral expenses, and the deductibles or copays of other types of insurance. It’s also worth noting that MedPay applies to named drivers even if they were passengers, pedestrians, or cyclists when the car accident occurred. MedPay does not cover indirect expenses resulting from injuries, like lost wages or childcare.… read full answer
What Medical Payments Insurance Covers
Medical expenses after a car crash for any driver named on the policy
Medical bills for passengers in a covered vehicle
Deductibles, coinsurance, and copays of other insurance policies
MedPay is only required in Maine and New Hampshire (if drivers choose to buy car insurance). However, it can still be a smart investment for drivers even if it’s not mandatory, since it’s generally inexpensive. For example, MedPay might be worth it if your health insurance plan requires high out-of-pocket costs or if you don’t have health insurance.
For more information, check out WalletHub’s complete guide to MedPay.
You need $1,000 or $2,000 in medical payments (MedPay) coverage in the two states that require it: Maine and New Hampshire. If MedPay is optional in your state, the exact amount of MedPay that you need depends on a few factors, including what other types of insurance you have and how robust your emergency fund is. Even if you have overlapping coverage, like … read full answerpersonal injury protection (PIP) or health insurance, MedPay is generally a good investment because it is inexpensive and complements other types of insurance.
How Much MedPay You Need by State
New Hampshire: $1,000+ for drivers who choose to purchase coverage
Other States: optional
Medical payments coverage pays for your medical expenses after an accident regardless of who was at fault, so it usually overlaps with PIP and standard health insurance. But MedPay can also cover deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance expenses that come with other types of coverage, so it can help you avoid additional costs if you’re severely injured in an accident.
What to Consider Before Purchasing Medical Payments Coverage
When deciding how much MedPay you want to purchase, you should consider what types of coverage you already have and their associated costs. For example, if you have a high deductible health insurance policy, MedPay can help you reduce your out-of-pocket medical expenses after an accident. And if you live in a state that requires PIP, MedPay can be used as a backup in case your policy limits are exhausted by severe injuries.
In addition to existing coverage (and state laws for those in Maine and New Hampshire), you should consider your financial situation when deciding whether or not to purchase MedPay. If you have a lot saved up for a rainy day, for instance, then it’s probably fine to skip the additional coverage. But considering that MedPay often costs less than $10 per month, the added peace of mind is usually worth the minor investment.
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