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UPDATED: Apr 23, 2020
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Auto insurance can be quite confusing. With several different types of coverage and different coverage amounts available, many consumers do not know what they really need and what they don’t.
Often this can lead to people paying for insurance they do not need, or worse yet, not paying for coverage that they should have.
To understand more about your options in insurance coverage and to get the best available rates, consider using a car insurance comparison tool online.
Start comparing car insurance rates now by using our free tool above!
The Basics of Auto Insurance Coverage
In order to determine what types of coverage you need, it is important to understand the different types of policies and what they were created for.
It is also important to note that the legally required types of coverage are not the same in every state and that drivers should verify that they are carrying the legally mandated types and amounts of car insurance.
- Liability Coverage – Most states require their drivers to have liability coverage. There are two parts to liability: bodily injury and property damage. Bodily injury will pay for expenses related to injuries or death if you cause an accident. Property damage liability covers expenses if you are at fault and damage other people’s property. Usually, this means a vehicle, but it can also mean buildings, trees, light posts, and other physical property.
- Collision Coverage – Collision covers accidents that involve damage to your vehicle from colliding with another object, such as a fire hydrant, another car, or a building. You can select your deductible for this type of coverage, though if you lease a vehicle they may mandate a deductible as low as $500 or $1,000.
- Comprehensive Coverage – This coverage is in place in case your car is stolen, or is damaged without the occurrence of a collision. For instance, comprehensive coverage covers damages from hail, fire, floods, hitting wildlife, vandalism, and natural disasters. You can also choose your deductible for comprehensive, but again, the amount might be mandated if you are leasing your car.
- Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage – In the event that you are involved in an accident with another driver who does not have insurance or who is not carrying the appropriate amounts of insurance, this type of coverage from your policy will kick in. In some states, uninsured/underinsured coverage is mandated by the law. Drivers can buy additional coverage in this area, however, many choose to increase their coverage amounts in the collision and comprehensive categories instead.
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Medical Payments Coverage
Finally, there is medical payments coverage. In some states, this coverage is also mandatory.
Medical payments coverage, also known as med pay or MPC, pays for medical bills and care due to an accident.
If your state does not require med pay coverage, your car insurance company may require you to reject the coverage in writing if you choose not to have it.
The positive side to med pay is that it is not dependent upon who is at fault.
Insurance companies are required to allow their drivers to use it, even if they were the ones that caused the accident.
Why is Med Pay Important
One of the biggest expenses related to auto accidents is for the necessary medical care that follows.
Depending on the extent of the accident and how many people were involved, medical expenses can reach in the 6-figures or larger bracket.
Thankfully, most accidents either do not require medical care and treatment or only require a small amount.
Med pay can be used to cover a variety of costs, including:
- Funeral costs
- Injuries sustained by people in the vehicle with you
- If you are a pedestrian or bicyclist in an accident with a car
- Dental care needed as a result of a car accident
In order to use med pay, symptoms must usually begin within the first few days after an accident.
For example, neck pain that started two weeks after an accident will not generally be an allowable expense under med pay from your auto insurance.
Do I Need Med Pay?
If your home state does not require you to have med pay coverage, you may want to evaluate whether you need it or not, as not having it can decrease the price of your car insurance premiums.
You should consider the following factors when making this decision:
- Health insurance coverage – You should check with your health insurance company to find out if they cover medical care that is needed in light of a car accident. If they do, consider the cost of your health insurance coverage and if it is really necessary to pay for additional coverage under med pay. However, if you find that your health insurance does not have good coverage for car accident injuries, it might be well worth paying for med-pay coverage on your auto insurance.
- The cost of med pay coverage – Ask for quotes with and without med pay coverage to determine how much extra it will cost you on your auto insurance policy. Be aware that the cost for med pay can depend on your age, your marital status, your driving record, your gender, and your claims history.
- Personal injury protection coverage – Personal injury protection is similar to med pay in that it covers injuries that are sustained as a result of a car accident.However, personal injury protection in states that are considered no-fault is required. In addition, only a few states that are not no-fault states have this coverage as an option. Personal injury protection also provides for loss-of-income payments, whereas med pay does not.
While some see it as an added and unnecessary expense, med pay can be worth the extra cost.
To determine if you should elect med pay coverage or not, check with your insurance company first to find out if you are legally required to maintain this coverage.
If you are not, then evaluate the other factors, such as your health insurance. You can also decrease your car insurance premiums with the help of an online auto insurance comparison calculator.
Start comparing auto insurance rates now by entering your zip code in our free tool below!