What Is Medical Payments (MedPay) Coverage?

If your health plan has gaps in coverage, low limits or steep deductibles, MedPay can be a generally affordable addition to your car insurance policy.
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Written by Ciarra Jones
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Reviewed by Brenda J. Cude
Professor Emeritus, University of Georgia
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Medical payments coverage, or MedPay, helps pay for medical expenses and funeral costs after a car accident, no matter who is at fault. It also pays the medical bills if you or one of your family members is hit by a car while on foot, riding a bike or traveling as a passenger in someone else’s vehicle.

In most states, MedPay is an optional add-on to your car insurance policy, but in some states it's required. In a few states, you can't buy MedPay because personal injury protection, or PIP, is required.

What MedPay covers

MedPay can help cover costs if:

  • You’re hit by a car while walking across the street.

  • Your spouse is riding their bike and is struck by a vehicle.

  • After a car accident, one of your passengers has back pain.

The types of services MedPay can cover include:

  • Treatment of injuries, including medical, dental, surgical and chiropractic care.

  • Ambulance fees and emergency room services.

  • X-rays, prostheses and nursing.

  • Funeral costs following a fatal crash.

  • Health insurance deductibles or copays.

In some cases, MedPay coverage may also extend to non-relatives who are passengers in your vehicle at the time of an accident.

What MedPay doesn’t cover

MedPay will not cover:

  • Costs above your policy’s limit.

  • Wage reimbursement if injuries force you to miss work.

  • Child care costs if you're limited by accident injuries.

  • Treatment for injuries to other drivers you might cause in a crash.

  • Treatment for injuries or health problems unrelated to a car accident.

Who needs MedPay

MedPay is optional for most drivers. It's required in Maine and Pennsylvania. In New Hampshire, auto insurance isn't required, but residents who choose to buy auto insurance must buy MedPay as well.

If you have personal injury protection, you don’t need MedPay.

What to consider before adding MedPay to your policy

When deciding whether you need this coverage, keep in mind that MedPay and health insurance aren’t mutually exclusive. MedPay can cover part of your health insurance deductible or copays, and once your MedPay limit is reached, health insurance covers the rest.

You might also want MedPay if you frequently drive passengers who aren’t part of your family. MedPay typically applies to anyone riding in the car at the time of the accident (unless you're driving for a ridesharing company, such as Uber or Lyft, which requires additional rideshare coverage).

If you're thinking about adding MedPay to your policy, here are some questions to consider:

  • Does your health insurance have high deductibles?

  • Are you concerned about paying out of pocket for medical expenses if you're in an auto accident?

Revisiting both your current auto insurance and health insurance coverage can be a helpful way to determine whether MedPay may be beneficial to you and your family.

Choosing your MedPay limits

MedPay coverage limits vary by policy. In general, you can buy MedPay in set dollar amounts such as $1,000, $2,500 or $5,000. The limit you choose will determine how much your insurance will pay after a car accident. The higher your coverage limit, the higher your monthly premium will be.

It’s difficult to recommend a "right" amount of MedPay. You should choose a coverage amount based on your own financial situation.

Before choosing your medical payments coverage limit, it’s wise to check your health insurance plan. For example, if your health insurance has low deductibles and copays, a few thousand dollars' worth of MedPay coverage might be plenty. But if you have high deductibles or no health coverage at all, you might consider higher MedPay limits.

Say you’re in a car accident and need X-rays, an MRI and stitches totaling $2,000, and you have a $1,500 MedPay limit. Your health insurance may require a $1,000 deductible and a copay before paying for your care. Depending on how your treatment is billed, MedPay could pay your deductible and copay, and the remainder could be used to pay for some of your medical costs, up to your coverage limit. Without MedPay, you would be responsible for your deductible and copay.

MedPay vs. personal injury protection

It’s easy to confuse MedPay with personal injury protection. PIP is sometimes also called no-fault insurance because it pays for medical treatments and services after a car accident, regardless of who caused the crash. (Liability coverage, which is included on all standard policies, pays only for others’ injuries that you cause in a wreck.)

PIP also has more extensive benefits than MedPay, such as wage reimbursement if injuries force you to miss work. However, one drawback of PIP is that it often includes a deductible. MedPay typically doesn't involve a deductible.

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