For those injured in a car crash, the days after the incident can be harried and stressful. Top of mind for many people is their medical bills. Appointments, treatments and procedures are expensive – who is supposed to pay for it, and when? The confusing nature of insurance coverages can make the answer to these questions even less clear.

There’s a good rule of thumb to keep in mind, however: Unless you took steps to add specific coverage to your policy, don’t expect auto insurance to pay for your medical costs as you get the bills.

Minimum car insurance coverage

Louisiana, like all other states, has minimum coverage standards for auto insurance. The most basic, legally acceptable auto policy will provide:

  • $15,000 for bodily injury or death per person
  • $25,000 for property damage
  • $30,000 for total bodily injury or death
  • $15,000/$30,000 for uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage

While having this coverage means you’re following the law, it doesn’t cover nearly as much as you might think.

This type of barebones policy only applies to an accident that you, the coverage holder, caused – it does not kick in if you’re involved in a crash that another motorist is at fault for. In addition, this basic coverage only covers medical and property damage costs for other people that were harmed in the accident.

This minimum coverage does little to immediately help you with your costs following a crash.

How can I get my own medical costs covered?

If you are injured in a car crash in Louisiana, generally speaking, you are responsible for paying your medical bills as they come up.

You can seek compensation to cover these costs through the at-fault driver’s insurance, or via a personal injury lawsuit against that motorist. Those paths can take quite a long time to resolve however, meaning if you ultimately do receive compensation, it may not be until many months after the fact. It will not be on a regular basis, as needed, to cover your medical bills as they arrive.

There are ways you can help bridge this gap. You can consider add-ons to your auto insurance, such as personal injury protection (PIP) or medical payments coverage (MedPay), both of which are optional in Louisiana. While different plans can vary, PIP and MedPay will usually cover your personal ongoing medical costs related to a crash. That potentially includes appointments, surgery, ambulance fees, tests such as X-rays and more. (Though naturally, there are limits to how much the plan will pay out.)

If you drive in Louisiana, you need to have auto insurance. You can do yourself a favor by understanding what is included in your policy, and making adjustments you think might be helpful.