Can I Use Health Insurance to Cover Car Accident Injuries?

Does health insurance cover car accident injuries? You bet—but you’ll have to pay a deductible. Using personal injury protection or MedPay might be preferable.
Written by Jason Tushinski
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
You can use your health insurance to cover injuries sustained in an accident, but you’ll have to pay a deductible. Using
personal injury protection (PIP)
medical payments (MedPay) coverage
might be a better option.
When it comes to covering injuries due to car accidents, PIP and MedPay usually offer advantages over health insurance. If they’re not already mandatory in your state, you might want to explore adding these options to your
car insurance
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So, read on to learn how using PIP or MedPay coverage through your car insurance plan might be better than relying on your health insurance to handle injuries after an accident.
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Should you use PIP or health insurance after an accident?

If you sustain injuries in a car accident and have either personal injury protection (PIP) or MedPay under your car insurance policy, your best bet is to use one of them instead of health insurance. Here’s why.

No deductible

When using PIP or MedPay, there usually is generally no deductible—that is, money that you have to pay before your coverage kicks in. This means that if you use either coverage to pay for medical care after a car accident and don’t max out your coverage, you’ll likely owe nothing out of pocket.
If you use your health insurance to cover medical care due to an accident, your insurer will subtract your deductible before your coverage starts.

No subrogation clause

Most health insurance plans also feature a subrogation clause. If you were awarded money from a liability claim or a lawsuit, your health insurer can claim some of that money to cover the expenses they incurred to cover you.
Cash from a liability claim, as well as PIP coverage, can be clawed back due to this clause. If you can use PIP or MedPay to cover your costs without filing a health insurance claim, you’ll avoid this scenario.
Key Takeaway By using PIP or MedPay to pay for medical bills stemming from a car accident, you’ll likely save the deductible you’d lose by going through your health insurer.

States with exceptions

In some no-fault states, you can limit your PIP coverage to depend on your health insurance first in case of injury due to an accident. Doing so will lower your overall car insurance rates.
New Jersey
offers a good example of how this works. In the Garden State, drivers are allowed to tab their health insurance as the initial provider of medical care in case of an accident. This means that your PIP coverage would commence only after you reach your health insurance limits.
, unlimited PIP coverage contributes to some of the highest premiums in the country. To save money, you can integrate your health and auto insurance plans as a way of reducing your car insurance rates.
In such a scenario, any rehab costs and lost wages would be covered under PIP, while your health insurance would cover visits to the hospital or your doctor’s office.

Explaining PIP and MedPay

Personal injury protection

Personal injury protection refunds you for costs like medical expenses and lost earnings due to injuries suffered in a car accident. You don’t need to prove anyone was at fault to receive money from a PIP plan. Reimbursement tends to come quickly after filing your claim.
PIP is required in
no-fault states
and optional in seven more. PIP benefits range from about $10,000 to $100,000, though PIP has no limits in Michigan.
In other states, such as
, PIP will only cover a certain percentage of your medical costs—up to 80% in the Sunshine State.
PIP plans usually do not carry a deductible, but some states allow you to include one in your policy in exchange for lower overall premiums.

Medical payments coverage

Medpay (as the cool kids call it) is comparable to PIP. It covers medical bills and funeral expenses—but unlike PIP, it does not cover lost wages due to accident-related injury. MedPay is mandatory in three states and available as an add-on to your PIP coverage, or as a cheaper alternative to PIP, in other states.
Key Takeaway Both PIP and MedPay cover medical bills after an accident, but MedPay does not cover lost wages.

Can you use health insurance if you don’t have PIP or MedPay?

Yes, you can use your health insurance to cover injuries suffered in a car accident if you don’t have PIP or MedPay. Remember, you’ll have to pay your deductible if you file a claim with your health insurer.
If you live in a tort state, you can pursue the other driver in court in a bid to cover your medical expenses. Keep in mind though—lawsuits take time to wind their way through the legal system, and there’s no guarantee you’ll receive any money.
Another thing to remember if you file a health insurance claim and pursue a lawsuit against the other driver—if you’re awarded any money, it may be subject to subrogation. This means your insurer can claw back some of that money to cover their own costs to insure you.
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If you have health insurance, is PIP or MedPay worth it?

Even if you have health insurance, adding PIP or MedPay to your overall coverage can help you save money.
For instance, if your PIP or MedPay funds are running low in the midst of covering medical costs, you can use the last of those funds to pay your health insurance deductible.
That way, once your PIP or Medpay funds expire, your health insurance coverage will kick in to cover your remaining medical expenses—with your deductible already paid off.
PIP and MedPay cover expenses like funerals, which health insurance does not cover. PIP and MedPay also protect other passengers injured in your car—another scenario where your health insurance won’t help you. Only PIP will cover lost wages due to an accident, as neither your health insurance nor MedPay help in this situation.
Overall, adding PIP or MedPay to your insurance portfolio can give you peace of mind. If you’re ever in a scenario where you’ve suffered injuries due to an accident, knowing you have extra coverage is a comforting thought as you recover.
Key Takeaway PIP and MedPay provide good backup coverage in case you reach your health insurance limits due to injuries suffered in an auto accident.

Why you might not need PIP or MedPay

While PIP and MedPay can act as fine first or second lines of coverage against car accident injuries, you may not need either if you have a robust health insurance plan.
At the end of the day, the decision as to whether you’ll need PIP or MedPay coverage is yours. Think about the following questions when deciding whether to add PIP or MedPay to your car insurance policy:
  • How likely are you to be involved in a car accident?
  • How strong is your health insurance plan?
  • If your health insurance doesn’t cover all of your medical bills, can you afford to pay the remaining on your own?
  • Are the peace of mind and extra costs of PIP or MedPay worth it to you?
PIP and MedPay offer a variety of financial safeguards—but these are only applicable if you’re involved in a car accident. Here are the key differences between what health insurance, PIP, and MedPay cover:
Health Insurance
Almost always
Funeral coverage
Lost income coverage
Living expenses coverage
Who can make a claim?
Only those named on policy
Anyone listed on policy or passengers in a car
Anyone listed on policy or passengers in a car

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Who is responsible for medical bills in a car accident?

In a no-fault state, each party involved in an accident goes to their own insurer for coverage. In at-fault states, the responsible party’s liability coverage pays the other driver’s medical bills for injuries suffered in the accident.

Does health insurance cover car accident injuries?

It can. You can file a claim with your health insurer to cover bills related to auto injuries. Keep in mind though, you’ll be on the hook for your deductible before your coverage kicks in.
On the other hand, if you have either PIP or MedPay as part of your car insurance plan, you can use either to pay most—or in some cases, all—of your medical bills resulting from a car accident.
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