How do I know if my car insurance covers medical bills?

Written on behalf of Abramson Smith Waldsmith LLP

If you recently sustained or caused injuries in an accident in California, you may be concerned about whether or not your insurance policy covers medical costs. The best source of information is your insurance company. If you sign into your policy online or view your insurance card, it should show you what your policy covers and does not cover. If you financed your car, there may be a greater likelihood that you have full coverage.

NerdWallet notes that one single auto insurance policy can include multiple types of coverage. The minimum coverage required depends on your state. In some states, you may only need liability insurance. In others, you may need to get personal injury protection, uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage or all of the above.

If you own your car free and clear, then you may have only opted for liability insurance. This generally covers the cost of medical expenses for other injured parties, such as a driver and their passengers, cyclists or pedestrians. Note that you may first have to pay some money out of pocket, which is known as the deductible. After paying this deductible, your insurance company pays up to a predetermined limit and then the remaining expenses may fall on you.

The medical costs for you and your passengers are not covered under liability insurance. Your health insurance may chip in to cover some of your own medical bills. However, unless your passengers are covered under your policy, such as your spouse or kids, you may become financially liable for their medical bills out of pocket.

To avoid ending up in this situation, it is a good idea to get personal injury protection or medical payments insurance. Shortened as PIP, this type of insurance may also help to cover lost wages related to injuries and temporary disability. If someone becomes permanently disabled or dies as a result of the accident and you are at-fault, they or their survivors may decide to sue.

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