Why do I Need Uninsured Motorist Coverage if I Have Health Insurance?

I get multiple clients who tell me that the reason they didn’t opt for optional uninsured motorists coverage is because their car insurance agent told them it wasn’t necessary if they have health insurance.I get multiple clients who tell me that the reason they didn’t opt for optional uninsured motorists coverage is because their car insurance agent told them it wasn’t necessary if they have health insurance.

Just because you have health insurance today, doesn’t mean you have health insurance tomorrow. Right, if your health insurance is through your employer, what happens if you lose your job? If your health insurance is through an Obamacare plan, what if health insurance becomes more expensive and you need to switch to a plan that has huge deductibles and significant co-pays? If you are in a car accident that isn’t your fault, you shouldn’t have to bear these expenses.

Health Insurance Will Not Pay for Lost Wages or Pain and Suffering

But, you can have the best health insurance in the world and you should still get UM coverage because health insurance only pays for Medical treatment. In a serious car accident, you are entitled to more than just medical treatment. If the at-fault party doesn’t have insurance, or enough insurance to compensate you, Uninsured Motorists coverage pays for lost wages and pain and suffering.

Some Doctors on Health Insurance Plans Will Refuse to See Patients Involved in a Car Accident Claim

Also, some doctors on health insurance plans, will refuse to see patients who are involved in an injury claim or lawsuit. It’s mostly because they don’t want to ever have to testify and, while I may disagree, the doctor is allowed to choose who he/she will or won’t see. I had a case just like this earlier this year.

While our law firm is based in Miami, we represent people all over the state. I represented a client in the Jacksonville area who was in a bad car accident. He had health insurance. But after many months of therapy, it became apparent to him and his doctors that he would need surgery. But no spine surgeon in that area, on his health insurance plan, would do the surgery because a lawsuit was involved. Luckily, we were able to get the client to a reputable neurosurgeon, not on his health insurance plan, who was willing to operate on a letter of protection. If the client did not have sufficient uninsured motorist coverage he wouldn’t have been able to both receive the care that he desperately needed and make a recovery for his pain and suffering.

How Health Insurance and Uninsured Motorists Coverage Work Together in a Car Accident.

Generally, more insurance is better than less insurance. He or she who has both health insurance and uninsured motorists coverage will have more options for treatment, less likely to owe any medical bills, and more likely to make a financial recovery.

Health insurance and UM auto insurance can work in tandem. To explain how, I’ll use the example of a car accident that requires emergency room treatment. What you as the car accident victim will do is present both your car insurance card and your health insurance card to the hospital billing department. If the bills exceed your no-fault PIP insurance benefits, the hospital will then bill your health insurance.

If you need follow up care, you will have the option of seeing a doctor who takes your health insurance (if one will agree to see you knowing that you were in an auto accident and are bringing a car accident claim) — or you can see a doctor who will see you on what’s called a letter of protection (LOP) – where the doctor agrees to treat you now with no out-of-pocket co-pays or deductibles, with the understanding that the provider will get paid after the case is settled. Immediately, you may notice that this opens up some options.

What if you cannot afford ongoing health insurance co-pays? Uninsured Motorist Coverage Can Help.

Some people can’t afford on-going co-pays, especially if they’re not working due to the car accident. Multiple weekly session of physical therapy may be necessary in addition to a couple of MRIs, doctors’ visits and any other procedures needed to treat the injury. These co-pays will start to add up.

If the at-fault party doesn’t have bodily injury insurance (or a minimal amount) and you do not have Uninsured Motorist Coverage, seeing a doctor on a LOP may not be an option (doctor’s don’t work for free). If you don’t have UM or health insurance, your treatment then may be very limited.

In short: uninsured motorist coverage protects you and your family in case of a serious car accident and is important to have, even if you also have health insurance

What is a letter of protection?

Unfortunately, some injured people do not have health insurance or available funds to pay for health care. If injured in a car accident, this is where PIP / no-fault insurance helps (up to $10,000 in medical bills will be paid regardless of fault). But it is quite easy for medical care to exceed 10K and doctors do not work for free.

Enter the Letter of Protection, commonly referred to as an LOP. An LOP is signed by both the patient/client and the attorney. An LOP is a lien against your case. Its similar to a mortgage on your house (which another kind of lien). If you sell the house, the bank gets money first – up to the amount of their lien. You would get whatever is left over.

The attorney signs the LOP confirming that they will pay the medical provider out of any recovery achieved by settlement or judgment.

The patient/client signs the LOP acknowledging this (i.e. the medical provider gets paid, before the client, out of any recovery); AND confirming that, even if there is no recovery, the client will STILL be held personally responsible for the medical bill(s) incurred. In other words, the client will remain on the hook.

Essentially, the medical provider is saying – We’ll wait until your case is resolved to get paid. But no matter the outcome of your claim or trial, we are owed money for the services we provide to you.

If you would like to speak to a Miami personal-injury attorney, please call and ask for Jason Neufeld or he can be emailed directly at jneufeld@nkplaw.com

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