Solomon & Relihan Provides Advice on Managing Medical Insurance Claims

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Many drivers pay an extra premium for medical payments (med-pay) coverage on their auto insurance and also have health insurance through Medicare, AHCCCS, or an employer benefits package. Though med-pay is supposed to be used to pay for medical costs not covered by health insurance, both insurance companies will frequently work hard to avoid paying more than they have to and shift costs elsewhere. Coordinating insurance is crucial to ensuring that the driver doesn't end up paying out of their own pocket.

Insurance companies do not have the best interests of their policyholders in mind. Although these companies market their services as friendly and helpful, their true goal is to make a profit by denying or minimizing the amount they pay on a claim. The law firm of Solomon & Relihan has compiled these tips for dealing with healthcare costs related to a car accident.

Medical Benefits — When Insurers Come to Collect Healthcare Costs

Many people have medical payments (med-pay) coverage on their car insurance policy. It is an extra benefit for which they have paid a premium. Quite often, they also have heath coverage through Medicare, AHCCCS, or an employment benefits package as well. Unfortunately for the people who pay for med-pay coverage in the belief that they can use it for deductibles, co-pays, and other things that their other health plans don't cover, their other plans will do their best to burn up the med-pay coverage for expenses that they would normally pay (thereby allowing Medicare, AHCCCS, and the employer-provided health plans to save money at the patient's expense).

One of the biggest mistakes a person can make when settling an accident claim on their own is to settle for too little. Many people do not realize that the insurance they have through work or Medicare or AHCCCS may pay the medical expenses initially, but later they will want to be repaid out of the settlement from the at-fault driver's insurance company. The hospital that received payment from Medicare, AHCCCS, or the health coverage will want a piece of the settlement as well. When that happens, the settlement that was enough to cover out-of-pocket medical expenses and lost wages suddenly seems grossly inadequate — and the other driver's insurance company won't re-open the claim to pay anything more.

When medical bills exceed insurance coverage.

Because of the high cost of medical treatment, medical bills are often more than the amount of the auto insurance coverage available to pay them. In these cases, it is good to contact an attorney who can contact providers and negotiate bills down. An attorney can also negotiate with physicians for reduced fees.

Should I speak with the insurance company?

Do not discuss your case with anyone from an insurance company until you have spoken with a lawyer. Insurance companies may call or write asking for information or a recorded statement immediately after an accident, before the full extent of injuries is known. Get the name, address, and telephone number of the person who calls and tell them to contact your attorney.

Can I handle my own claim for the property damage to my car?

In most cases, a driver will be able to settle the property damage portion of your auto insurance claim on their own. If your car was totaled in the accident, there are several ways you can get fair market value for your car:

  •      Classified ads in the newspaper
  •      Blue book
  •      Auto Trader Magazine
  •      Car dealers

Once you have checked your sources, you should have a pretty good idea of the range of value for your car.

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Martin Solomon
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