Does Your Auto Insurance Cover Passengers?

By Jill Overmyer

What happens when you're riding in the passenger seat of a friend's car and there's a crash. Are your injuries covered by the driver's insurance? Determining whose insurance pays your medical bills can get complicated because it depends largely on who's at fault and who has insurance. Let netQuote help you break it down:

If the driver of the other car is at fault:

In most states, drivers are required to carry minimum limits of liability coverage for bodily injury. This is what would cover your medical bills if you are injured. Things work a bit differently in no-fault insurance states.

Drivers living in no-fault states are required to carry what's called personal injury protection (PIP). This type of insurance will pay for passengers' medical expenses and lost wages, no matter who's at fault, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).

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If the at-fault driver doesn't have insurance (or enough insurance) or if the accident is a hit-and-run, you better hope that your driver has uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. This type of coverage, according to Progressive, would cover things such as lost wages and medical bills for everyone in the car. In essence, it replaces the auto insurance that the at-fault driver should have had.

If your driver is at fault:

In a no-fault state, your driver's PIP coverage would cover you. In other states, your driver would need to have medical payments coverage (MPC) to cover medical expenses, according to the NAIC. MPC is optional, and your driver might not have it.

If your driver doesn't have the right auto insurance to cover your medical expenses, you have these options:

  • Use your own insurance. If you have health insurance, you can use your own insurance for your medical bills. The same holds true if you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
  • Sue the driver. This is an extreme measure, particularly if the driver is a friend or family member. But if you as a passenger are not found negligent, you are entitled to compensation from the driver. Lawsuits typically cover medical bills, lost wages, or any deductibles if you opt to use your own insurance.How to protect yourself as a passenger

How to protect yourself as a passenger

Most passengers don't demand proof of insurance from the driver before hopping in the passenger seat, so it's difficult to know whether you will be covered in the event of an accident. The best ways to protect yourself include:

  • Increasing your insurance. If you don't have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, it's not a bad idea to add it to your own policy.

Be a good passenger. If you are injured in an accident, you may not be able to sue the driver for damages if your behavior is negligent, according to the Law Offices of John D. Winer, a California personal injury law firm. This can include not wearing your seat belt, encouraging the driver to speed or causing distractions.

See how much you could save today on your car insurance. Get your free auto insurance quotes today.

This is an updated version of an article originally published on Dec. 31, 2013.