Passenger In A Car Accident: Coverage For Your Injuries
When you’re driving your own car, you’re covered by your own auto insurance policy. But what happens when you’re a passenger? The good news is you may have coverage from more than one form of insurance carried by the driver of the car you’re riding in, another driver – or even your own insurance.
But who pays your bills is a question that doesn’t need to be answered until after you get care and medical bills arrive. So if you are injured in a car accident, it is important to seek medical care immediately. If you have health insurance, that will provide a first line of insurance coverage. But as soon as is practical, get car insurance details from all of the drivers involved in the accident, because ultimately the primary coverage for your medical care may come from a car insurance policy.
WalletHub has general guidelines for what to do at the scene of an accident, and our guide to how to file a car insurance claim will give you an overview of the claims process. Continue reading to learn more about the coverage that applies specifically to passengers in an accident.
Insurance That Covers Car Passengers
In every state, drivers are required to carry liability car insurance to cover any harm to third parties when they are at fault – or “liable” – for the damage. But sometimes another form of car insurance will provide “primary” coverage no matter who is at fault for the accident.
How your injuries will be covered depends on state laws, who was at fault, and what type of insurance the various drivers carry. The table below lists all the forms of insurance that may apply when an auto passenger is injured.
|Insurance Policy||When Does It Apply||Important Considerations|
|Personal Injury Protection (PIP)||Your driver’s policy, regardless of fault||May have deductibles|
|Medical Payments (MedPay)||Your driver’s policy, regardless of fault
Your own Medpay insurance covers you even when you are a passenger
|Can pay other policies’ deductibles|
|Bodily Injury Liability||The other driver’s policy when that driver is at fault
Your driver’s policy when that driver is at fault
|Your own driver’s liability coverage applies only if you are not a member of the same household.|
|Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM)||Your driver’s policy when the other driver is at fault but doesn’t have sufficient coverage.|
|Your own health insurance||Pays up front for your treatment||May have deductibles and copays|
If your injuries are covered by more than one policy, the rules about which insurance pays first can be complicated, and they vary from state to state. So it’s a good idea to contact the auto insurance companies for any driver involved in the accident and notify them you have been injured in an accident involving their customer. Let each insurer know about the other insurance companies you are contacting, because if more than one insurer will be paying part of your costs, in the end it will be sorted out by the insurance companies in a process called subrogation.
Tips For Making Sure You’re Covered
As a passenger, you are to some extent dependent on the insurance coverage carried by the drivers of the vehicles in the accident. However there are a few things you can do to make sure you’re covered:
Get insurance information as soon as you can. If your injuries are severe, you can worry about gathering information later. But if you are able to, get names, phone numbers, and insurance information from each of the drivers at the scene of the accident, and ask the police officer for the accident report number. These will be useful to you later when you file a claim.
Take charge of your own safety when riding in a car. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that seatbelts saved 12,584 lives in 2013. Not wearing your seatbelt may cause harm to other passengers as well. Be aware that passengers can be found to be at least partially responsible in an accident. Anything from distracting the driver or not wearing your seatbelt, to grabbing the wheel can make you responsible, and “at-fault,” for accidental harm.
Make sure to carry adequate insurance of your own. If you don’t drive, you don’t necessarily need to depend on other people’s insurance to keep you safe. Getting your own health insurance will protect you any time you need medical care, and under the Affordable Care Act, there are many new options for insurance, including low-cost coverage for people with modest incomes. You can learn more at healthcare.gov. If you do have your own auto policy, look into adding MedPay coverage, which will protect you even when you’re in someone else’s car.
Know when to hire an attorney. In a technical sense, when you file a claim with the at-fault driver’s liability insurance policy, you are threatening them with a lawsuit. That person caused your injuries, and he or she is responsible to compensate you for your harm. Under normal circumstances the driver’s insurance company will compensate you for your injuries. However there are circumstances where either the insurance company will resist paying for your damages, or where there isn’t a clear policy that covers your damages.
Under these circumstances you may need a personal injury attorney to help receive compensation for your injuries. Remember that if you are injured due to someone else’s negligence, the law is on your side, and personal injury attorneys won’t charge you a fee until they recover the damages. Get medical help immediately and talk to an attorney as soon as possible.
Image: Odua Images / Shutterstock
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