Medical payments coverage is “no-fault” optional automobile insurance in Virginia. “No-fault” means that an injured person can receive proceeds from this coverage for personal injuries stemming from an auto accident regardless of who was at fault. “Medical payments” and “medical expense” is the same type of coverage, often used interchangeably. Attorneys and insurance adjusters simply refer to it as “MedPay.” Insurance companies will offer medical expense coverage typically in amounts of $1,000, $2,000, or $5,000. A car owner can purchase this optional coverage in addition to liability coverage (bodily injury and property damage).
Medical expense coverage is merely one bucket of money that an injured party can pursue -- another is liability insurance from an at-fault driver. Due to the no-fault nature of this coverage, medical payment coverage can pay up to the policy limits for those medical bills or services one incurs as a result of being injured in an auto accident, even if the injured party caused the accident. For instance, a driver causes a single car accident, strikes an electric pole, and incurs medical bills of $3,000. Even though the driver caused the accident, he can recover the amount of the bills up to the policy limits.
To calculate medical payment coverage, multiply the available amount of coverage times the number of vehicles on the insured’s policy. This concept is known as “stacking,” a concept to increase the amount available to the injured person. Stacking is limited to four vehicles according to Va. Code § 38.2-2201.
For example, use the same hypothetical as above. The driver has a policy with medical expense coverage of $1,000 and two vehicles on the policy. The coverages are stacked for a total of $2,000, the maximum that the driver can recover. Unfortunately, the driver cannot recover the additional $1,000. However, if that same driver did not cause the accident, he may pursue liability coverage against the third party.
Medical expense coverage is generally inexpensive, costing less than $20 per year for minimum limits. Please contact Chad A. Mooney and the team at PLDR Law if you have any questions about medical expense coverage.