Car insurance covers you and your car ... right? But what happens if you’re in an accident and your passengers get hurt? Does auto liability insurance cover a passenger in a car accident? Find out what (and who) auto liability insurance helps protect.
What is Auto Liability Coverage?
Before we dig into coverage of injured passengers, let’s briefly go over what auto liability coverage is. This type of coverage is made up primarily of two parts: bodily injury liability and property damage liability.
Thinking about your policy coverage, bodily injury liability covers injuries suffered by other drivers and their passengers if you are determined to be at-fault for an accident. Your injuries would not be covered by your own liability coverage, but your passengers’ injuries might. It depends on the situation and relationship. If the passengers are family members then they may not be covered.
As the name implies, property damage liability covers damage you cause to someone else’s property — like their car or a fence, mailbox, or storefront. It has nothing to do with coverage for passenger injuries.
Coverage for Passengers if an Accident Is Your Fault
Bodily injury liability coverage, required for motorists in nearly every state, might cover injuries suffered by passengers in your car if you cause an accident. For the most part, though, it’s designed to pay for the medical bills of other drivers and their passengers if they’re hurt in an accident that you cause.
Other types of insurance do, however, cover passengers in your car who were injured in an accident that you caused.
Medical payments coverage (also known as medical expense coverage or “med pay”) pays medical bills and funeral expenses for injuries and deaths associated with you and your passengers, regardless of who’s at fault.
Medical payments coverage is required in some states but optional (or not even available) in other states. If you don’t have medical payments coverage, you might decide to go with your own health insurance to cover your injuries, and your passengers might end up relying on their own health insurance to cover their injuries.
Medical payments coverage also comes into play if you’re injured as a passenger in another driver’s car, or if you’re hurt by a car when you’re walking or cycling.
Another type of coverage that pays for injury-related expenses is personal injury protection (PIP). It’s similar to medical payments coverage. However, it goes beyond medical payments to include lost wages and other expenses.
PIP is required in no-fault states and optional in others. As the Insurance Information Institute notes, no-fault laws mean there’s no need to determine who’s at fault to receive payment for injury claims. Note: PIP doesn’t always cover passengers not named on the policy in some cases.
Coverage for Passengers if an Accident Is Not Your Fault
So, what if your passengers are injured in an accident that’s not your fault?
In this case, the at-fault driver’s policy is supposed to cover injuries suffered by you and your passengers.
But what happens if the other driver doesn’t have enough insurance to cover injuries suffered by you or your passengers, the other driver doesn’t have any auto insurance at all, or the accident was a hit-and-run?
If you have underinsured/underinsured motorist coverage, your insurance will pay for medical bills related to your injuries and your passengers’ injuries. If you don’t have this coverage, you and your passengers may be able to seek coverage for injuries from your health insurance company. You could also turn to your Med Pay or PIP coverage in this situation.
Underinsured motorist coverage and uninsured motorist coverage are mandatory in some states and optional in others.
Contact Direct Auto with Questions
Have more questions about who and what your auto insurance policy covers? Our friendly agents are ready to help! Call, click or come into your nearest Direct Auto today, and leave all your car insurance doubts in the dust.