Medical Bills and Your Car Insurance: What You Need to Know
Like many New Jersey drivers, you may have decided to purchase your car insurance online. Answer a few questions and you’ll hopefully find the most affordable way of obtaining what you assume is “full coverage.” Meanwhile, you could be in for a big surprise when it comes to payment of your medical bills.
First, keep in mind that this discussion is intended for New Jersey automobile owners who have their own personal car insurance policies. In our next article, we will provide you with some details concerning medical bill payment for those who do not own and insure private vehicles.
Consider this scenario. You are driving down the New Jersey Turnpike in stop and go traffic. Suddenly and without warning, a car comes from behind you and rams into the back of your SUV. Although you faithfully wear your seatbelt, it turns out something is wrong with it. Apparently, the retractor mechanism is faulty. As a result, you receive rather severe injuries – requiring substantial hospitalization and extensive rehabilitative care.
Meanwhile, you figure you’re covered. After all, that’s what you think you pay car insurance for in the first place. Alternatively, it could be that you’ve decided to save money. It appears there was an option permitting your health insurance to pay your medical bills in the event of an automobile accident – and you took advantage of the assumed cost savings.
If you’re lucky enough to read this before you are involved in a car crash, it is important for you to pay attention. In fact, you may want to speak with our office when making your selections for insurance coverage.
Medical Bills: PIP Benefits
Personal Injury Protection (“PIP”) coverage is offered on all standard New Jersey personal automobile insurance policies. According to NJSA 39:6A-4, it doesn’t even matter if it was your fault that the accident happened. PIP coverage affords payment for medical bills, income continuation, essential services and death benefits.
You might recall that you were offered different options for PIP benefits when you signed up for your car insurance. To save on the premium, you might have decided to choose nominal coverage of just $15K. If you’re wondering how far that will get you, consider a report from 2013. At that time, the average inpatient daily hospital stay in New Jersey was over $2,000. One can easily assume the costs have risen in the past five years.
The sad reality is that it isn’t much more expensive to purchase higher limits for PIP benefits. In many cases, you can obtain upwards of $250,000 in coverage for less than $100 annually. No doubt it’s one example of where you don’t want to be “penny wise and dollar foolish.”
In the meantime, you might decide that since you have health benefits, you have no interest in PIP from your automobile carrier. This could result in regrets if you’re ever involved in a car crash.
Health Insurance for Auto Accidents
According to the State of New Jersey, you have the right to choose your health insurance for your PIP option. However, beware of these potential ramifications before you make that selection:
- Your health insurer may specifically decline benefits for auto accidents
- Medicare and Medicaid do not pay benefits for claims related to car crashes
You may also be surprised at something else that happens when health insurance pays for medical bills associated with injuries from automobile accidents. Companies like Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Aetna, Cigna – and others – have a right of subrogation. That means if you file a lawsuit against the party who caused the accident, a portion of the monies paid for medical bills will be owed back to the insurance company.
At the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone, we have represented hundreds of individuals involved in car accidents. We can also help you ensure that you’ve selected the right choices on your automobile insurance policy. Contact us for assistance!