Until an accident occurs and you are forced to review your auto insurance policy with your personal injury attorney, you may not be fully aware of your policy’s terms. If you are a Rhode Island or Massachusetts resident, you will find that there are coverages such as Med Pay or Personal Injury Protection in your policy. Beyond property damage, the financial loss associated with automobile accidents often includes substantial medical bills and legal costs. All licensed drivers are required to purchase automobile insurance, but as we covered in Why You Need Uninsured Motorist Insurance, that doesn’t mean you are protected in every scenario. Depending on who is driving, which vehicle you are using, and other important factors, your insurance may fall short of covering your expenses. Rhode Island and Massachusetts require Med Pay or Personal Injury Protection to be included in your automobile policy and it can make the difference in your case.


Med Pay

Med Pay, or medical payment coverage, is a requirement in Rhode Island auto policies. It is applied to all or part of your medical bills that are accrued as a result of an accident. In the event of a liability dispute that may take some time to settle, Med Pay can provide a more immediate means of covering medical expenses. Without this coverage, certain technicalities such as hefty copays may be your responsibility.

The two types of Med Pay include primary and secondary coverage. These offerings differ in their cost, level of coverage and how they function.

    • Primary Med Pay has a higher cost and also a higher level of coverage. Incurred medical bills will be gathered by your personal injury attorney and submitted to your auto insurance company. Payment will be honored up to your maximum coverage amount, which is determined in your policy.
    • Secondary Med Pay comes at a lower price point and works as a supplement to your health insurance policy. Expenses that are not covered by your health insurance, such as deductibles and copays, will be paid by your auto insurance company up to the determined coverage amount.

Tip → Maximum coverage offered with Med Pay is often limited to about $5,000. However, this is actually a per-person maximum. This means that if you and two others in your vehicle need medical attention following an accident, each of you will be covered up to the maximum, reaching a total of $15,000.


Personal Injury Protection

Personal Injury Protection, often referred to as PIP, may cover medical expenses and lost wages resulting from an accident. Depending on where you live, PIP may already be a required component of your auto insurance policy. Massachusetts requires PIP, while Rhode Island does not. States also vary in what they deem reasonable to compensate under this coverage. Certain medical treatments may not be permissible in your state, so it’s important to learn the details of your policy even if you live in a state that requires PIP.

As Personal Injury Protection can potentially cover more of your expenses, it is generally more expensive than Med Pay. Lost wages and transportation to medical appointments are among the commonly claimed expenses under this coverage. “No-fault” coverage like PIP ensures that you are eligible for coverage regardless of which party is considered liable for the accident. If you are hurt, you will be able to receive maximum benefits without any roadblocks.

Both Med Pay and PIP only cover the Insured policyholder. This essentially means that they are not available to you unless it is part of your own policy. They will not be offered through the insurance company of the other party involved in your accident, even if the other party is proven liable. Med Pay and PIP are also extended to cover the medical expenses of your own vehicle’s occupants or any other drivers that were operating your vehicle with your permission when the accident occurred.

Many drivers do not know that their insurance includes, or doesn’t include, these key coverages. While Med Pay or PIP may be required depending on the state that you live in, you also have the option of purchasing both and having more than just the minimum. Being confident that you will be taken care of if an accident occurs can give you peace of mind while you and your family are on the road. If you want clarification on your auto insurance policy’s terms, or have questions about Med Pay and PIP, call 1-401-234-2109 or message Attorney Travis J. DeCosta today.