Thomas McCutcheon

Q: Will my insurance cover a passenger in my car if I am in a wreck?

Anita, Florence, AL

A: In Alabama, medical payment coverage will pay for a passenger’s medical bills no matter who was at fault. Even if the accident was your fault, insurance will still pay medical bills caused by the accident. If the accident was another driver’s fault, then both “med pay” and uninsured motorist coverage that you have on the car that was wrecked will cover your passenger, if you have “UM”.

Alabama has a guest/passenger statute that prevents a person riding in a car as a guest from suing the driver. There are exceptions to that rule but your insurance coverage typically won’t cover a passenger who didn’t pay for gas or isn’t really there for a business purpose, if you were at fault in the accident. The distinction between a guest and a passenger can be complicated and should be reviewed by an attorney.

Medical payment coverage was probably originally designed to cover the entire medical bills of someone injured while using an insured automobile. In today’s world, we see medical bills that almost always exceed the amount of medical payment coverage that people generally have. Most people buy coverage that is $1,000, $5,000 or $10,000. That money is intended to pay a passenger’s medical bills. Remember that if they are treated at the emergency room, the hospital has a lien that will be first in line for payment. Once “med pay” is exhausted, no more medical bills will be paid. This type of coverage does not reimburse for lost wages or pain and suffering.

Uninsured motorist coverage will cover medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering to the extent of the coverage amount. Because uninsured motorist coverage follows both the car in the accident and the people in the car and if your passenger has a car at home with uninsured motorist coverage then that coverage can apply as long as the other coverage is exhausted and another person was at fault.

Liability coverage is coverage for another person or an automobile damaged if the accident was your fault. Liability coverage is purchased for a specific car and that coverage generally follows that car. Liability coverage is mandatory in Alabama.

Buckle up, drive safely and as always your referrals are appreciated! 256-764-0112


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