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Out-of-Pocket Expenses

Accidents cost a lot of money, and insurance only covers some of the expenses. If you have rental coverage on your auto policy, your insurer will likely cover the cost of renting a car until yours gets repaired. 

However, you’ll have to pay for any other expenses out of your own pocket. Even if your insurer or the at-fault party’s insurer eventually pays the expense, you will need to float the cost until you get reimbursed.

Here are some common out-of-pocket expenses you might incur after an accident and how you can seek reimbursement for them.

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What Are Some Common Out-of-Pocket Expenses?

After an accident, you may feel like you’re constantly paying for something. If you don’t have health insurance, you may even need to pay for your medical treatment out-of-pocket.

Some common out-of-pocket expenses include:

Medical Treatment Expenses

You may have to pay for some or all of your medical treatment, including these costs:

  • Ambulance and emergency room
  • Hospital
  • Medical examinations
  • Surgery
  • Physical therapy
  • Mental health counseling
  • Prescription and over-the-counter drugs
  • Medical equipment purchases or rentals

If you have health insurance, your health care provider may cover these expenses. But depending on your policy, you will have out-of-pocket copays or deductibles before the health insurance kicks in.

Expenses While Seeking Medical Treatment

Some expenses relate directly to your efforts to seek or receive medical treatment. 

For example, you may incur expenses while traveling to medical appointments, such as:

  • Gas
  • Hotel stays
  • Parking
  • Taxis
  • Buses
  • Rideshares
  • Flights

You could incur substantial expenses traveling to out-of-town medical appointments, particularly if you need special transportation like private paratransit or ambulance services.

Expenses from Disabilities

After an accident, you might suffer from temporary or permanent disabilities that limit your ability to perform tasks for yourself or others. 

You will pay out-of-pocket to hire services for:

  • Childcare
  • Transportation
  • Shopping delivery
  • Cooking
  • Cleaning
  • Basic needs like eating, dressing, and showering

Depending on the severity of your disabilities, you might even require a nurse to monitor your medical condition, administer drugs, or provide emergency care.

Expenses from Property Losses

If your car gets damaged or destroyed, you’ll probably incur some out-of-pocket expenses, such as:

  • Towing
  • Storage
  • Rental car
  • Taxis or rideshares

You may also need to pay out-of-pocket to replace personal property lost or destroyed in the accident. Suppose your helmet gets ruined in a motorcycle accident. You’ll need to buy a new helmet and wait for the insurer to reimburse you.

Types of Auto Insurance Coverage

Though you may have out-of-pocket costs after any type of accident, car accidents frequently result in these expenses. To understand how auto insurers handle out-of-pocket expenses after a car accident, you should learn about the types of coverage you and the other driver have. 

Some common types of coverage include the following:

Medical Payments

You can buy optional medical payment coverage, also called med-pay, with your policy. If you have a car accident, your insurer will pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses up to the policy limits, regardless of who was at fault.

Med-pay was designed to help people without health coverage and those with high copays or deductibles. For example, if you have a $5,000 deductible for your health insurance, you can get med-pay coverage with a policy limit of $5,000. 

If you get injured in a car accident, med-pay will pay up to $5,000 for medical expenses until your health coverage kicks in.

Bodily Injury Liability

Every California vehicle owner must carry minimum bodily injury liability (BIL) coverage. This coverage pays medical or death benefits to third parties injured in an accident you caused. In other words, BIL does not pay for your injuries. Instead, it pays those you injure.

BIL covers documented out-of-pocket expenses related to the injuries. The injured party can claim reasonable and necessary expenses for medical treatment, travel, and disabilities.


Expenses must be reasonable in both cost and relationship to your injuries. If you overpay or have something done unrelated to your injuries, the expense was not reasonable.


Necessary expenses cover procedures to treat your injuries or relieve your symptoms—whether the procedures succeed or not. But the reason for the procedure must relate to your injuries. For example, plastic surgery on your nose would not be necessary if you broke your leg.

Property Damage Liability

California requires vehicle owners to carry property damage liability (PDL) coverage. Like BIL, PDL pays for expenses relating to damage you cause to another vehicle.

PDL covers reasonable and necessary out-of-pocket expenses related to the property loss. California only requires $5,000 in PDL coverage, so the insurance company cannot cover many expenses.

How Do You Get Reimbursed for Out-of-Pocket Expenses?

You should document your expenses to include them in your insurance claim or lawsuit. Receipts, bank or credit card statements, or canceled checks prove the amount and date of the expense.

Proving the purpose of the expense is trickier. You should keep detailed notes about the expenses to provide a declaration or testimony about the reason for each one. You may also request statements from your medical providers to attest to the necessity for certain procedures. 

To discuss how you can claim out-of-pocket expenses in your insurance claim or lawsuit, contact an experienced personal injury attorney in Los Angeles for a free consultation.