Worried about being in a car accident? Be prepared before the accident and follow this how-to guide to ensure you have the right details and the right care. Here are 6 things you can do to ensure that your healthcare needs are covered by your health insurance...
1. Visit a doctor right away
Seems like a no-brainer but you'd be surprised how many patients wait a few months. The longer you wait, the more diminished the possibility that your insurance will cover it.
You’ve just been in an accident and you have minor whiplash... Visit a doctor? Absolutely
Please don’t hit up the local ER unless you feel that it is truly an emergency!!
A sore neck or back is something you can book a visit to see your practitioner for (in most cases) and even get a quick check-up at the local non-hospital urgent care centers.
Most accidents, if you did not cause them, are covered by car insurance, especially if you plan ahead and have MedPay on your plan.
The research shows that the amount of damage done to your car does NOT match the amount of injury sustained by your body.
Some injuries, such as ligamentous damage or vertebral misalignment, may not show up directly after the accident. It is not unheard of to heal from the soft tissue aches and pains of the initial trauma but to begin feeling symptoms weeks after the accident as your inflammation settles.
I myself was in a head on car accident in high school, impacting the steering wheel on my sternum, I had general bruised pain but I wrote it off as just tenderness. I began having heart issues a few weeks later (more like 6-8 weeks later) and upon re-exam, I had partially fractured my sternum and irritated my heart. I was in care for years after this for the trauma that occurred to my thoracic spine.
I wish I had received care immediately (instead of waiting a year). Insurance did not cover it!
2. Get Documentation to back up your claim.
Get photos of your car and a detailed description of repairs needed for your records. Often the speed of collision is incorrectly recorded and these notes will come in helpful.
Also get the name of the person who examined your car and keep full detailed records (I'd draw them out) of the location, impact angle and what position your head and body were upon impact.
Information is power
Get additional documentation of your injuries by seeing your general practitioner. They will refer you out for any advanced imaging or testing that might be needed to support your care (and more importantly, allow you to heal).
It is not uncommon to
have an entire health care team
working for you...
At my office, I refer out to a physical therapist for your exercises, a massage therapist to support the connective tissue healing, and as a chiropractor myself, we work to loosen tight muscles around the soft tissue and joints that are healing from your trauma.
The goal is to receive care and to document your symptoms and your progress until the end of your healing process.
A good provider will continually ask you to fill out pain diagrams and questionnaires to evaluate your progress.
Care should continue until you reach maximal medical improvement or become pain free.
3. Don’t let any gaps occur in your care.
If you do get injured in an accident and you head right in to see the doctor, make sure you keep going back until your symptoms resolve.
The doctor will make recommendations as for the duration of care and you should go in at least weekly for the first few weeks before you decide that you are ready to close your claim.
If your job gets too busy to come in for care?
Call your doctor and put it on record or swap to another assisting clinic who has later hours.
Moving or going on a trip?
Set up supporting care on your trip to ensure that you continue to heal while away from our office.
4. Don’t close your case early
Once you are pain free, you can close your case…
But take your time!
The golden rule is that when the insurance companies speed up (asking for you to fill out forms), you slow down to fully read those forms and to ensure that you aren’t rushing the process. .
Do they want your case closed immediately?
This could be a red flag that they assume you have returned to your health prior to the accident.
The insurance company might also think that you have hitting the end of your care. The key takeaway is that Insurance companies do not cover care once a claim is closed. It is in their best interests to close your case as soon as possible so they do not incur any more costs.
5. Communicate with your Claims Agent
It is ok to talk to your insurance agent and to tell them the specifics about how you are feeling.
Don’t sugar coat your symptoms or tell your claims agent that your pain is worse than it is...
This may skew their perception of your injury and do remember they are taking notes to add to your file.
Choose to use examples to describe the continuation of your symptoms:
When discussing your current condition, I might make the recommendation to skip the basic descriptors such as ‘fine’ ‘ok’, ‘bad’ or ‘good’, and would recommend you mentioning how your injuries affect your daily activities.
Are there things you are still unable to do due to pain?
Are there things you are able to do but not at 100%? Make sure to tell your claims adjustor this as well when they call. Basically, they will
Are you having trouble putting on your shoes or sitting on the toilet for too long? How about washing dishes, backing up your car from a parking spot? They would better benefit from these tidbits of daily life. You can also tell them how long the symptoms are lasting (and if it has changed from right after the accident) as well as if the severity of symptoms has decreased (you used to experience ‘stabbing’ pain with putting on your shoes, now you feel a mild ache that is momentary. Telling them you ‘feel fine’ when you are having trouble sitting for more than 30 minutes or standing for longer than 1 hour.
Don’t be afraid of relying where you are in your care. Kindly tell them how you are feeling to your truest ability and tell them you are waiting to close your case just to make sure you don’t have a relapse.
I’d recommend waiting a full month without symptoms before you close your case. Also, take the time to use your expected future medical treatments to ensure that they are covered, many insurance companies (AllState as a example), do not cover future medical and want you to finish care before your case is closed.
6. Only ask for care that is related to the injury
Your car accident insurance will only pay for care that is related to the accident.
Often clients come in with pre-existing injuries, or those that were there prior to the car accident. If this is you, make sure that your massage therapist and/or doctor stays on track to treat the region that is affected in your accident.
The reasoning is this, if they put in their notes that they were working on your left ankle (from your ankle sprain last summer), and your car accident exam notes do not say in there anywhere that your left ankle was affected, your insurance isn’t going to cover it.
The only caveat to this is if your old ankle injury was exacerbated by the accident. In this case- yes, your insurance will cover care for the ankle until it reaches the status where it was prior to the injury.