Does car insurance cover passengers in my vehicle?

Some car insurance policies will cover your passengers if they are injured in an accident. Read on to learn whether passengers are covered on your policy.

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UPDATED: May 27, 2022

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Written By: Laura BerryReviewed By: Joel OhmanUPDATED: May 27, 2022Fact Checked

Here's what you need to know

  • Bodily injury liability is required insurance in most states, but make sure your coverage amount is high enough
  • Full coverage covers passenger injuries as long as the policy includes medical or uninsured/underinsured coverage
  • Liability covers bodily injuries and property damage for others but not for you, your passengers, or your car

Does car insurance cover passengers? Does auto liability cover passengers in your car? These are critical questions to ask and have answered before you start driving with passengers, as any responsible driver should.

With most basic liability car insurance coverage, a passenger is not covered. But, unfortunately, many people mistakenly think that bodily injury liability coverage will cover passengers in their vehicles. 

However, liability only covers property damage and bodily injuries to others and doesn’t include coverage for you, your passengers, or your vehicle.

In addition, there is a limit to this sort of coverage, and it is per person. Considering that medical bills are so expensive, mandatory limits aren’t enough to protect you or pay for costly injuries. Increase limits to be adequately protected.

There is a big difference between full coverage and liability insurance. Keep reading to learn how the difference impacts who is and is not covered in an accident and determine which car insurance covers passenger injuries.

Does liability cover passengers in a car accident?

Most states require a minimum amount of property damage and bodily injury liability coverage in case of an accident. Does liability cover passengers in your car? While liability covers injuries to passengers in other vehicles, it doesn’t cover injuries to your passengers.

Bodily injury liability coverage keeps you safe from potentially harmful lawsuits involving pain and suffering, loss of work, medical care, and subsequent medical bills. 

However, mandatory insurance generally doesn’t offer much protection. You must set your coverage amount high enough to protect your assets.

For example, medical costs will be significant if you cause an accident with serious injuries. If your policy only provides $25,000 in bodily injury coverage, but medical bills are $50,000, you may be responsible for the difference.

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.

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Does full coverage car insurance cover passenger injuries?

Full coverage includes liability, collision, comprehensive, and other mandatory coverages determined by your state. Also, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is generally included. In addition, drivers can choose to add medical coverage.

In most cases, a passenger would be covered in a car accident with full coverage car insurance, as long as your policy has medical coverage or uninsured/underinsured coverage. However, this coverage is optional and not required in almost all U.S. states. So, many individuals choose not to take this coverage.

Uninsured/underinsured coverage provides adequate protection to the passengers in your vehicle and yourself if you are found at fault in an accident and don’t have enough coverage to pay for injuries.

Does personal injury protection car insurance cover passenger injuries?

Some states require policies to offer personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. But what is personal injury protection insurance?

PIP helps pay for bodily injury costs, including medical bills, lost wages, and childcare. Unfortunately, PIP only covers those insured on the policy, such as drivers. So, if you’re a passenger not listed on the insurance policy, PIP doesn’t offer you coverage.

However, many individuals carry this type of insurance on their health insurance policy, so it is not uncommon for a person to be protected already if they were a passenger in someone else’s vehicle.

Consider adding PIP coverage to your insurance policy, so you don’t have to depend on someone else’s insurance if you’re injured.

Which auto insurance coverage pays for injuries to passengers in your car when the accident was your fault? 

There are three primary ways an insurance policy covers individuals if involved in a car accident resulting in an injury.

Insurance that covers bodily injuries includes:

  1. Medical coverage. It helps pay for medical costs for the named insured and all passengers in their vehicle. This coverage is optional and usually only offered on comprehensive and collision policies.
  2. Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. This coverage kicks in if the at-fault driver has no insurance or insufficient coverage. While some states require this coverage, it’s not always mandatory.
  3. Personal injury protection. PIP protects passengers and is optional in most states. This insurance is required in no-fault car insurance states if you do not already have health insurance that covers personal injuries.
  4. Liability. Bodily injury only covers the other driver and passengers in their vehicle but no one else. Most states require liability coverage.

As a responsible driver, it’s essential to consider how your actions and insurance affect others. In addition, failing to have adequate coverage leaves you open to high out-of-pocket costs. Therefore, it is always best to contact your insurance company and ask what your specific auto insurance policy covers.

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What should you do if you’re injured in a car accident?

If you’re a passenger injured in an accident, you should take steps to ensure your claims are covered. Since you’re not the driver, getting your expenses covered may be more challenging.

Steps if you’re injured in an accident include:

  • Get as much information as possible. Document both drivers’ information, take pictures of the accident, and get a copy of the police report.
  • Keep records. Be sure to keep copies of all medical costs, lost wages, and other expenses such as childcare if you cannot perform ordinary tasks.
  • File a claim. Depending on the accident, you may have to file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance, your driver’s insurance, and your personal health insurance.
  • File a lawsuit. If you cannot get satisfactory reimbursements, hire a lawyer to help you get your damages covered.

One way to protect yourself is to carry your own insurance with higher limits. Then, even if the driver’s insurance doesn’t cover your injury costs, your insurance can step in. Otherwise, you’re dependent on others to carry the proper coverages and have limits high enough to cover medical costs.

It’s also important to know how to file a claim on someone else’s auto insurance. Contact the driver’s insurance company to learn the specific process for that company. Be sure you have all of the documentation you might need, such as photos and a police report.

Check Your Medical Coverage, Personal Injury Protection, and Bodily Injury Limits

Comprehensive coverage only covers your vehicle if something other than a collision damages your car. This particular portion of coverage doesn’t protect against damage from an accident but rather theft or vandalism. 

It will help you repair or replace your auto if it has any physical damage from these incidents, minus your deductible. Collision covers replacing or repairing your vehicle if it’s damaged.

Many people mistakenly think that comprehension covers them if they injure another person, which is not true.

Make sure you understand the ins and outs of your policy. That way, you’ll feel a little more at ease, knowing you and your passengers are safe while you’re driving. Also, practice safe driving with passengers in tow, such as wearing a seat belt and keeping your car serviced.

Does car insurance cover passengers? The Bottom Line

If you’re a passenger injured in an accident, your injuries can be covered in a few ways. However, the accident itself may determine if coverage is available.

If the other driver is at fault, their liability coverage helps pay for your injury-related costs. Typically, limits are generally low and may not be adequate.

If your driver is at fault, their insurance can cover your injuries if they have the right coverages. Unfortunately, most states don’t require coverages such as medical payments, PIP, or uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. 

You can also typically file claims with your insurance to cover medical costs. Add coverage to your personal insurance to protect yourself and not depend on others for reimbursement.

If you’re injured in an accident, get as much information as possible, keep receipts for costs related to your injuries, and file a claim with the appropriate insurance company. Then, if all else fails, consider a lawsuit to recoup your costs.

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about auto insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything auto insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by auto insurance experts.

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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Written by Laura Berry
Former Insurance Agent Laura Berry

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

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