The answer is, it depends. In Oregon, if you have auto insurance or live in a house that does, then any injury you sustain in an automobile-related accident would first be paid by that auto insurance, even if you have health insurance. A car crash victim will often arrive at an emergency room and show their health insurance card rather than the auto insurance identification card. If the victim was a passenger in a vehicle belonging to someone else, the patient might not show proof of the auto insurance belonging to the car’s driver in which they suffered injuries, regardless of fault.
I know, it gets complicated. Let’s simplify. If you were injured in a car crash, auto insurance pays first if available. If not available, your health insurance pays, but the clinic or hospital will seek reimbursement from the responsible auto insurance carrier.
In Oregon, auto insurance policies have a minimum limit of $15,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits that pay per person regardless of fault, whether a driver, passenger, or pedestrian. You might be entitled to two times that amount if you were riding with a friend while your automobile remains parked in your driveway at home. We call this stacking the limits. Your friend’s car insurance will most likely pay first, and then yours will pick up the difference.
“What happens if my friend doesn’t have insurance?” you ask. Then your PIP benefits will trigger first, and your friend will get into trouble for not having coverage at the time of the accident.
Now, this all doesn’t consider the fault of the accident. If you are at fault, your benefits stop at the $15,000 or whatever higher limit you and your agent chose. If you were not at fault, then the limits of bodily injury liability of the other driver who hit you, if they have insurance, will pay above and beyond your PIP limits.
Let’s say the other at-fault party has $100,000 liability coverage, and your injuries exceed that amount. You have coverage on your policy for what is called uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. Your insurance could then pay that excess amount up to the limit you have of underinsured motorist benefits. As you can see, the coverages can stack up like that in Oregon.
Finally, let’s pretend that your injuries go beyond what all your available auto insurance will pay. Then is when your health insurance, after its deductibles and copays, might kick in.
Talk to your agent about what limits for PIP and uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage you have.