After a car accident, the last thing on your mind should be “How am I going to pay for this medical treatment.” You want to focus on reducing your symptoms, relieving your limitations, and getting back to normal life. While paying cash for treatment is possible, it is much more likely you will be using insurance to afford medical care after your auto collision.
Here are five tips to know before using insurance:
1) PIP is Used Before Medical Insurance
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance is coverage purchased from your car insurance company that provides deductible and copay free medical coverage up to your limit after a car accident. PIP is no-fault insurance, which means that your coverage will apply whether you caused the crash or not. Typically set at $10,000, $35,000, or $50,000 limits, PIP is required in Washington state unless waived in writing. This should be your first line of defense and must be used before medical insurance.
2) You Claim the Charged Amount, Not the Paid Amount
Washington courts have held that the at-fault party should not gain the benefit of your auto insurance. In other words, after a car accident, you get to claim what the medical providers charged your insurance and not what the insurance company ultimately paid for the insurance. This could be a huge windfall. PIP aside, most health insurance companies have contracts with medical providers that reduce billed charges. If you make your claim properly, you could net thousands of dollars more after your crash.
3) You Often Must Repay the Insurance Company
While you may claim the windfall between the charged amount and amount paid by the insurance company, your insurance contract often provides that you must repay the carrier what they paid if you settle your car accident claim. This process – often called subrogation – is sometimes handled directly between the insurance companies. Handling it yourself (or with an attorney) may allow you to negotiate this process to save even more money.
4) You Should Not Stop Treatment if Insurance Quits Paying
This is a major trap in personal injury claims. Often, PIP and medical insurance will stop paying for bills for one reason or another. In this event, you should seek to find alternative ways of receiving medical treatment. Sometimes another insurance company will pay or perhaps they will only pay for an alternative type of medical treatment. Regardless, pausing (even for a short while) or halting medical care altogether is a big red flag in any personal injury case.
5) Negotiate With the Help of a Personal Injury Attorney
Attorneys may be able to work with insurance companies to force them to provide coverage where they might otherwise balk. Attorneys may be able to lower insurance bills to create a larger net settlement. Attorneys provide leverage in the power dynamic that may allow you to reach a more profitable settlement after your car accident. The experienced litigators at the law offices of Magnuson Lowell, P.S. offer free case evaluations to help you know your rights after a car accident. Call today!