When you’re rushed to a hospital emergency room after a car accident, the last thing on your mind is probably filing an insurance claim. Of course, the health care providers and physicians who attend to your injuries will be thinking about their own paychecks – and in some cases, trying to get more than they should.
By filing a claim with your auto insurance provider instead of your health insurer, medical institutions can get significantly higher payouts from the resulting car accident settlements. However, this is technically illegal in the state of Virginia, as a 2013 law states that any in-network hospital on your plan must follow the terms of your health agreement and file with your health insurer first.
Even though this groundbreaking law was designed to protect accident victims from further losses, some unscrupulous healthcare providers may try to surreptitiously take your automobile insurance instead. It’s vital to ensure that this doesn’t happen, and in this post, we’ll discuss how you can prevent that outcome.
HOW HOSPITALS FILE YOUR CLAIM
So why do healthcare providers try to use manipulative tactics on accident victims? According to some estimates, the hospital receives only 25 to 60 cents on the dollar from your health insurer, when compared to your auto insurance company. In other words, if they bill the auto insurer first, your medical providers can get a much more substantial piece of the final payout for your accident claim.
That’s why many accident victims report that they’re asked to sign dozens of forms once they’ve arrived at the hospital, or right when they’re getting ready for discharge. Although most of the paperwork is benign, some of these forms purposely include extra spaces for your auto insurance information, or fine print that waives your rights to bill the health insurance company.
One of the most common places to include this stipulation is the AOB or “assignment of benefits” contract, which gives the medical provider full authority to file a medical expense claim and pay their doctors. Thankfully, some of these tactics have been completely eradicated by the July 1, 2013 law. Virginia hospitals now can’t refuse to bill your health insurance company, as long as you have submitted your medical bills within the plan time limit.
PREVENTING A COSTLY MISTAKE
When dealing with your healthcare provider after a car accident, the most important thing you can do is to file your health insurance claim on time, and as accurately as possible. If you do not submit health insurance information to your provider at least 21 days before the claim deadline, they may be able to avoid billing your insurer altogether, and hold you accountable for your medical expenses.
At Huffman & Huffman, we’ve been helping people navigate complex legal situations like this since 1973. Our family-owned law firm is proud to serve our community, and to handle personal injury and car accident cases with care and sensitivity. When you need help pursuing a fair car accident settlement from your insurer, you can count on our team to give you the reliable counsel you need.
For more information, call (757) 599-6050 today! We’re available 24/7.
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