Question: I have health insurance, so I don't carry uninsured motorist coverage on my auto. If I am in an accident and the other driver is at fault, but doesn’t carry insurance or sufficient insurance, will my health insurance cover all of my medical bills? Basically, I'm wondering: Is medical coverage needed if I have health insurance?

Answer: Some health insurance policies exclude coverage for injuries sustained in a car accident. Depending on the terms, your policy could cover none, some, or all of medical expenses resulting from injuries from a car crash. 

If your health insurer pays for such injuries, then whether the other driver was uninsured or underinsured isn't typically of any concern to them (except for subrogation purposes with the at-fault party, which shouldn't affect your claims into your insurer).

Health insurance policies also vary by state and insurance provider, so before declining all medical coverage on your car insurance policy, such as medical payments (Med Pay), uninsured motorist (UM), underinsured motorist (UIM) or personal injury protection (PIP), you need to review and understand the specific details of your health insurance policy.

I find that contacting a representative of your health insurance company to discuss your coverages and what benefits you have if in an auto accident is easier than trying to decipher a health insurance policy on your own.  Some questions to ask your health insurer include:

  • Are injuries from auto accidents covered by your health insurance policy?   If they are, are all medical expenses covered? Are there any medical treatments excluded from coverage?
  • If you were to get medical coverage as part of your car insurance policy that carried a deductible, will your health insurance policy pay for the auto deductible (or any portion of it)?  For instance, if you live in a state where PIP is required, see if your health insurance policy will cover your PIP deductible for the named insured and any resident relatives and if they will cover any percentage of medical bills that PIP doesn’t (e.g. Florida’s basic PIP only covers 80 percent, so ask the insurer if they’d cover the other 20 percent).
  • Is your health or car insurance medical coverages primary?  Typically, your car insurance medical is primary and your health insurance is secondary if you carry both, but again this can vary by state.  For example, the New Jersey insurance regulator describes how you can designate your health insurer to be your primary source of medical care should you be injured in a car crash, so if you were in an auto accident your health insurance would pay first and your auto insurer would be secondary through your PIP benefits. 
  • If both your health insurer and car insurer pay for medical bills, will your health insurer ask to be reimbursed for claims they paid on?  The answer is usually yes, if there were overlapping payments paid out by both insurers for the same medical expenses.
  • Is there any health insurance coverage for passengers of your automobile?  Probably no,t unless the passenger is also on your health policy, but knowing the answer can help you determine if you want to carry MedPay or PIP so that your car's passengers will have some medical coverage, if that is of importance to you.

If you find that your health insurance doesn't cover you for auto accident injuries, then take time to seriously evaluate the benefits of medical coverages that your car insurance provider has to offer. 

Even if your health insurer does cover injuries related to a car crash (so you don’t feel the need for MedPay or PIP), carrying uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury may be worth the cost if you want to have the ability to claim for lost wages and pain and suffering – items that your health insurer won’t cover.

If you are uncertain on if you can afford medical coverages as part of your car insurance policy, get quotes for a policy with and without medical coverages to compare costs and make a decision.