Does my car insurance cover passenger injuries?

Your insurance may cover a passenger in your vehicle, but it’s a good idea to carry PIP and MedPay to ensure your insurance will cover everyone in an accident.

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A former insurance producer, Laura understands that education is key when it comes to buying insurance. She has happily dedicated many hours to helping her clients understand how the insurance marketplace works so they can find the best car, home, and life insurance products for their needs.

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP® Joel Ohman

UPDATED: May 19, 2022

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Here's what you need to know...

  • There are a few different ways auto insurance can cover a passenger’s injuries if they are the result of a car accident
  • If you have MedPay insurance, you can use your coverage even if you’re a passenger rather than the driver
  • If the insurance company refuses to pay for your injuries, you may have to hire an attorney

If you’ve ever been in a car accident, you know what a hassle they can be. It can be scary to assess damages to yourself, others involved, and your vehicle. But what happens if you’re a passenger and the driver gets in an accident? Does car insurance cover passengers?

There are a few ways auto insurance policies can help if you’re the passenger in a car and you’ve sustained an injury. You may have to file a claim on someone else’s auto insurance policy. Ultimately, it will depend on the driver’s type of coverage and whether a passenger’s injuries will be fully covered.

Does my car insurance cover passenger injuries?

If you were driving your car and were in a car accident, you probably know that the type of car insurance you carry will dictate whether you will need to pay for any repairs to your vehicle out of your pocket.

The same is true to an extent with passenger injuries. The types and amounts of coverage you carry on your vehicle will be an essential factor in covering your passenger’s injuries.

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What types of insurance will cover passenger injuries?

In the U.S., drivers have to carry a minimum level of car insurance. Some people are curious whether auto liability covers passengers. Most states require that you carry a minimum amount of bodily injury liability coverage, which is designed to pay medical expenses for others when you are at fault in an accident.

The table below shows the liability car insurance requirements for each state.

Liability Car Insurance Requirements by State
StatesMinimum Liability Limits
District of Columbia25/50/10
New Hampshire25/50/25
New Jersey15/30/5
New Mexico25/50/10
New York25/50/10
North Carolina30/60/25
North Dakota25/50/25
Rhode Island25/50/25
South Carolina25/50/25
South Dakota25/50/25
West Virginia25/50/25

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The first number indicates the maximum coverage for bodily injury liability for one person. The second number is the maximum coverage for bodily injury liability for all people involved, and the third number shows the maximum coverage for property damage liability.

Bodily injury liability does cover passengers to a certain extent, but there are some exceptions. For instance, bodily injury liability coverage will apply to your passenger as long as that individual is not a member of your household. In addition, if you are not at fault in the accident, the at-fault driver’s bodily injury coverage will cover the cost of your passenger’s injuries.

If you are the driver and have personal injury protection (PIP), this will cover your passenger regardless of who is at fault in the accident. Similarly, your MedPay coverage can help pay for your passenger’s injuries.

Lastly, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage could help cover your passenger’s injuries if the other driver is at fault but does not have sufficient coverage.

Will my car insurance cover me if I’m the passenger in an accident?

If you get injured as a passenger in someone’s car during an accident, your car insurance may cover your medical bills. 

In most cases, your MedPay coverage will help pay for any medical bills associated with injuries from a car accident. But MedPay is not a standard part of liability coverage, so you will have to add this to your personal auto insurance policy to reap the benefits.

MedPay coverage typically costs around $10 a month when added to an auto insurance policy. The coverage applies after an accident regardless of fault and without paying any deductibles or copays.

Whose policy covers my injuries?

If you are confused about whose insurance policy is responsible for covering your medical bills, you should start with the driver’s insurance.

The driver’s car insurance company may state that coverage for your injuries should come from another company or policy, but you can speak to an agent for clarification. Because laws vary from one state to the next, you should talk to your own insurance company if you’re still at a loss.

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Can an insurance company refuse to cover my injuries?

Unfortunately, it is possible for an insurance company to deny your claim and refuse to cover your injuries. If you and the driver do not carry MedPay coverage, and if the driver does not carry PIP or uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, there’s a chance you may have to pay for your medical bills after a car accident.

But if you do not live in the same household as the driver, the driver’s bodily injury liability coverage should cover at least some of your medical bills.

If an insurance company refuses to cover your injuries caused by a car accident, you can always speak to an attorney. You should especially consider speaking to an attorney if your medical bills are significant or if the car accident’s impact could have lasting effects.

How can I make sure I have coverage as a passenger?

First, you can carry an insurance policy that will help provide coverage if the driver or other individuals involved in an accident do not carry adequate insurance. If you have an insurance policy, you can add PIP or MedPay to your policy for a reasonable price. 

Next, take your safety seriously while riding in a car. Wear a seat belt to avoid critical injuries, and aid the driver by not distracting them, as distracted driving is often the culprit for many car accidents.

If you find yourself in a car accident, try to collect as much information as possible. Unfortunately, if you are seriously injured, it may be impossible for you to get the correct information. But if you can, get the drivers’ names, phone numbers, and insurance information. Having this information will allow you to be proactive when it’s time to file a claim.

Last, consider speaking with an attorney who specializes in car accidents if all else fails. Explain your circumstances and the steps you’ve taken to have your injuries covered. You may be eligible to receive an insurance payout even if the company tells you otherwise.

Car Insurance and Passengers: The Bottom Line

Depending on the nature of the car accident and the insurance everyone carries, there’s a chance auto insurance will help to cover passenger injuries. 

Anyone injured as a passenger in a car accident should seek the necessary medical attention as soon as possible. 

Seek professional help from an attorney who can let you know whether you are entitled to insurance coverage based on the nature of the accident, the people involved, and the insurance policy.

If you do not carry PIP or MedPay and are interested in purchasing the coverages for added safety, you can speak to your auto insurance provider. Learn more about what the coverages offer and how much they would add to your monthly auto insurance payments.

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