Medical payments coverage is a type of auto insurance that pays for car accident injuries to you and your passengers no matter who caused the accident. It's often called just MedPay. MedPay insurance is handy if you want to pay injury bills quickly no matter what the situation was.

Here's a closer look so you can decide if it's right for you.

What does MedPay cover?

MedPay coverage pays for "reasonable expenses" for injuries that you and/or your passengers have after a car accident. This includes medical, dental, hospital and funeral expenses, including X-rays, prosthetic devices, ambulance service and professional nursing. It can also cover health insurance deductibles and copay amounts.

There may be a time limit for the bills that MedPay will cover, such as three years of expenses following the date of the accident.

MedPay also covers medical bills for people who were driving your car with permission when the accident happened.

One thing to note is that you don't have to be injured in your own car to get MedPay. It can also pay out if you or your household relatives are injured or killed in other people's vehicles or if you are hit as pedestrians.

What medical payments insurance will cover

What amount does MedPay cover?

Medical payments coverage limits can be low, such as $1,000 or $2,000. If you've ever had doctor bills, you know that $1,000 doesn't go very far. But you can buy higher limits. For example, in California, State Farm offers a medical payments limit up to $100,000.

Some twists

  • MedPay is usually optional coverage, except in Maine where you have to buy $2,000 in coverage.
  • In some states, like California, auto insurance companies are required to offer you MedPay but you can reject it.
  • You can't buy medical payments coverage alone. You're going to have to buy liability insurance (which is the foundation of all auto insurance policies) in order to get MedPay.
  • MedPay might not be available if you're insuring an antique car.

What's the difference between personal injury protection and medical payments?

MedPay and personal injury protection (PIP) are similar but PIP covers more. PIP insurance covers the same things as MedPay, like ambulance bills, X-rays, dental work and hospitalization.

But PIP also covers wages you lost due to the accident and "essential services" for your household and family if you can't do them. This could include hiring child care or a cleaning service if you used to do those tasks but can't because of injuries. PIP is required in some states.

If you have the option for both in your state, it likely doesn't make sense to buy both. You'd be paying for redundant coverage.