Med-pay (Medical Payments Provision) is a component of automobile policies in a number of states, which provides for the payment of medical bills for the driver and passengers in a vehicle if there is an accident. Unlike many other forms of automobile insurance, med-pay provides coverage regardless of who is at fault. J.G. Pouros, “Medical Payments Provision of the Automobile Insurance Policy,” 52 Marquette L. Rev. 445 (1969).
For some states, like Virginia, med-pay is statutorily mandated, but in Maryland, it is merely optional. Virginia Code §38.2-124(B), 38.2-2201; Wu v. MAMSI Life & Health Ins. Co., 256 F.R.D. 158 (D. Md. 2008). Maryland has statutory requirements related to Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage, which bears some similarity to med-pay, as it also provides for the medical bills of anyone injured in an accident. Unlike med-pay, PIP also covers lost wages. Though PIP may be waived, it provides for wages lost due to injury where med-pay will not.
Med-pay is optional, voluntarily included in insurance policies. The exclusion of Med-Pay requires no special notice, as is required in personal injury protection. PIP, because it is required by statute, requires a written waiver if the insured individual chooses not to have the coverage in his policy. Md. Code, Ins. § 19-505. Additionally, because it is unregulated, there is no state-required minimum, allowing for drivers and insurers to set the level of coverage.
While there is more flexibility in the level of coverage, and consequently the price of the policy, an insured vehicle owner should be aware that this lack of statutory regulation grants greater flexibility to insurance companies as well. Insurance companies may insert provisions into a policy requiring repayment of any payments made on the insured owner’s behalf.
Also unlike PIP, med-pay does not offer Maryland plaintiffs the opportunity to “double dip” in insurance settlements. While in some states it may be possible for a plaintiff to not only receive an award for medical bills from both his own insurer through a med-pay policy, he may also recover for these same expenses in an insurance settlement. As the court noted in Wu, a provision in the Maryland insurance code prevents this sort of double reward from med-pay policies. Wu, 256 F.R.D. At 168; § Md. Code Ann., Ins. § 15-1207.
What med-pay can provide, however, is an added level of security to anyone inside the insured individual’s vehicle. While the bare minimum of statutorily required PIP insurance is $2,500, insurance bills can easily climb above this amount and a med-pay policy can help to cover all or part of that difference.