Medical Payments Coverage: MedPay in North Carolina
When you’re hurt in an accident, especially when that accident was not your fault, you want to know your medical bills are covered. That’s why people have insurance, right? Still, there is often confusion when it comes to Medical Payments (MedPay or Med Pay) coverage and when it comes into play.
How is MedPay different from bodily injury coverage? Does the at-fault driver’s policy pay everything? What if it isn’t enough? An experienced North Carolina car accident injury attorney can answer these questions for you. Here are the essentials.
How Is MedPay Different From Bodily Injury Coverage?
The answer is that they cover different people in different situations.
Bodily Injury coverage is legally-required liability coverage on your policy. In North Carolina, drivers are required to carry a minimum of $30,000 per person and $60,000 per accident, which is part of your auto insurance policy. This covers you in the event you are at fault in an accident and another person is injured (the other driver, for example).
Medical Payments coverage – MedPay – is optional coverage that covers you as well as the occupants of your vehicle. It’s not included in every policy nor is it required. It’s not available in all states, but it is in North Carolina. MedPay can cover occupants of your vehicle in a crash regardless of who is at fault.
If you were injured in an accident by another driver, that driver’s bodily injury coverage should cover your medical expenses. It’s not that simple, of course – the insurance company may seek to limit its payout. It is probably wise to consult with an experienced car accident attorney to make sure you guard your best interests.
Doesn’t the At-Fault Driver’s Policy Pay for Everything?
Not necessarily. It is important to remember that insurance policies have limits. That’s why coverage is for “up to” a certain amount. Some drivers only carry policies for up to those minimum amounts, which may leave you in the red if your medical costs exceed the policy limits. Some people drive with no insurance at all, despite it being against North Carolina law.
If you have opted to include MedPay insurance on your policy, it can provide you with additional coverage regardless of who was at-fault.
How Do Insurance Policies Interact in North Carolina?
This is where things get confusing – and why many people choose to hire an attorney. Insurance policies can be tricky in how they interact, and insurance companies sometimes “pass the buck” back and forth. They’re generally eager to reduce their payouts.
There are a few legal doctrines that can come into play, and that you may benefit from understanding.
First, there is what’s called “insurance stacking” or “policy stacking.” There are very specific rules for how and when this can be done in North Carolina.
For example, let’s say you have MedPay coverage on your insurance, and you have three cars insured. In North Carolina, you can’t “stack” the coverage from all three vehicles. That would be what is known as “intra-policy stacking” – when one policy covers multiple vehicles.
Now, if there are two separate policies in play, that could lead to “inter-policy stacking.” Let’s say you’re carpooling with a coworker. It’s your day to drive, but you get into an accident and your coworker is injured. In this case, your coworker can claim on your policy and may have a claim through their own policy as well.
The second thing to be aware of is something called “set off.” This happens when multiple insurers are involved. Generally speaking, insurers want to know a total amount for a claim. They like finite numbers. So, let’s say insurer one covers $40,000 of your claim. Insurer two does not want to duplicate that compensation. If your total claim is $50,000, they’re only going to want to pay the remaining $10,000.
If it seems complicated, that’s because it is. And, in North Carolina, it’s been heavily argued. There was a fight in the NC Supreme Court over it, and many policies now contain terms addressing the issue. All of this makes it even more vital that you consult with an attorney who understands how insurance companies act and how policies interact in North Carolina.
What if the Other Driver’s Insurance Policy Isn’t Enough?
There is a specific order in which liability works. First, the policy on the vehicle that hit you, assuming the other driver was at fault. This is usually the same policy as that of the driver, since people are usually driving their own cars. If the car belongs to someone else, you could also pursue compensation from that driver’s policy.
In an accident with injuries, there is usually a specific order in which insurance “kicks in” to help the victims. In other words, there’s an order of their responsibility to pay for your harms and losses.
- Policy on the car of the at-fault driver: bodily injury
- At-fault driver’s policy (if different from the vehicle): bodily injury
- Other policies that may be in play
The good news is that MedPay coverage is yours even if you don’t exhaust other policy limits. In other words, the MedPay coverage is in addition to whatever other compensation you receive from the policy, regardless of what that may be. Once all policy limits are reached, the insurance company’s contractual obligation ends. Further compensation would need to be obtained by filing a lawsuit.
Contact the Laws Offices of James Scott Farrin
If you’ve been hurt in an accident, you should be focusing on your health, not the tiny words at the bottom of your insurance policy. A lot of people find MedPay confusing. We’re happy to clarify it for you. We understand insurance policies and their fine print, and we deal with insurance companies every day. Call us for a free case evaluation at 1-866-900-7078, or contact us online. We’re ready to fight for your best interests, so you can spend less time worrying and more time recovering.