Accident victims could have crash tax to go with deductible

"Crash Tax" may become an everyday car insurance term. CC by Blyzz/Flickr

As if dealing with physical repercussions, expensive deductibles and all of the other ramifications of an auto accident weren’t enough, emergency service departments are tacking on another expense. It’s called a crash tax. Motorists involved in a car crash outside their municipalities may be billed by Emergency Medical Services just because EMS showed up at the accident.

Fault doesn’t matter to the ‘crash tax’

The “crash tax” is not complicated. If a person gets in a car crash away from home, and emergency services shows up and checks them out, even if they don’t ask for it, the person gets billed. The bill isn’t gargantuan, but is far from being innocuous. Often, the bill isn’t into the thousands. The norm seems to be a few hundred. There was a recent Chicago Tribune piece about a woman charged $350, and the New York Times had a story of a man charged $200. Neither asked to be checked out by emergency personnel or needed to go to a hospital.

Some bans in place

More states have crash taxes than not. However, the number of states with a ban on the crash tax is growing. Ten states — Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Tennessee — got rid of the practice. It isn’t a state law though. It is almost always a municipal decision. The practice, also called “resource recovery,” is used to get funds back from people that needed emergency services but didn’t pay taxes in that area. There are 24 states that have it. The highest fees in crash tax bills are, of course, in California.

You wish insurance covered this

If a person declines medical assistance, an insurance company will not pay it. Insurance companies oppose it. There are also other groups, including the AARP, which oppose the crash tax.

More information on this topic

NY Times

Chicago Tribune

Sacramento Injury Board