Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Who Pays For Auto Accident Bills?

“Why should my insurance pay for my bills since this accident was not my fault?” Without a doubt, THIS IS THE NUMBER ONE QUESTION WE HEAR from our clients. And we hear it for good reason: it’s the most worrisome aspect of an injured person’s claim. Clients want to make sure their bills are taken care of in a timely fashion, without being turned over to collections or having their credit impaired.

However, just like the concern over having to use their own collision coverage for fixing their car, many clients question why they should use their own health or auto medical payments insurance (known as “med pay”) if the collision was someone else’s fault. These questions have led me to the following conclusion: the insurance industry has done a terrific job of scaring you into believing that if you actually use your insurance, your rates just might go up.

This is basically bogus, as Ohio law states: “No insurer shall increase the cost of a private passenger automobile insurance policy based on the insured’s involvement in a motor vehicle accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist,” as long as the accident was not your fault (Ohio Revised Code Section 3937.23).

Secondly, and more importantly, once you understand how insurance companies operate AND how insurance laws work, you won’t want the at fault party’s insurance company “handling your medical bills” – unless you enjoy the equivalent of slamming your head against a brick wall.

Although each insurance company is different, many of their “policies” for handling your medical bills fall into predictable patterns. Some companies will do their best to convince you that you “won’t need an attorney,” or will “work with you” or “treat you fairly,” and will offer at the outset to pay your initial bills. And they may pay the ambulance bill, or the emergency room visit, and maybe even your initial follow up visit to your family doctor. After that, the general rule in my experience is: “Good luck.”

If your medical treatment involves anything more than an ER visit or single doctor bill (like repeated doctor visits, physical therapy, massotherapy, or diagnostic scans such as CT Scans, MRIs, etc), you’ll soon be introduced to the insurance company “auditing process.” This is fancy insurance lingo for a computer generated medical review process that tells the adjuster (who later tells you) WHAT IS REASONABLE MEDICAL TREATMENT FOR YOUR INJURIES.

(The preceding was an excerpt from my free book, "Your Ohio Accident...And How To Level Your Playing Field." To order the book and read more about what you can do to protect yourself when insurance companies deny payment of your medical bills, click here).

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