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Who pays when injured in someone else's car?


A

Question: My daughter was driving her boyfriend’s truck other night he had been drinking. She wrecked his truck and broke her collarbone. Now his insurance says they won't pay her medical bills. Our insurance says to send them the bills, and they will sue his insurer if they should have paid for her injuries.  Shouldn't his insurer just pay without making us go through our insurance?

Answer:  It’s unfortunate that your daughter ended up crashing after doing the smart thing and not letting her boyfriend drink and drive.  For her medical bills, it really depends on what coverages your daughter’s boyfriend had as part of his car insurance policy, what coverages you have and your state's laws on the order of recovery.

You didn’t mention under what portion of the boyfriend’s policy you tried to make a claim nor under what portion of your own policy you are making claims for your daughter’s injuries. 

Normally, if you’re in the car that is at fault in the accident, then the car’s bodily injury liability coverages won’t pay for your injuries.  Bodily injury liability pays for others that you injure in an auto accident.

Coverages such as personal injury protection (PIP) or medical payments (MedPay) are needed to pay for the injuries of individuals within the at-fault car.

If you are in a no-fault state and in an accident, then usually you use your own PIP coverage.  So, if your daughter is covered under your car insurance policy with PIP, then your PIP is primary, even if she were in another vehicle when injured.

If you have medical payments, it usually would extend and cover your daughter’s injuries in another vehicle. If the boyfriend too had medical payments coverage, it could extend to your daughter since authorized drivers of your vehicle are normally covered; however, your coverage may still be primary.

Without knowing your state’s laws and the specifics of the policies (the coverages and limits), we cannot tell you the exact order of recovery for the involved car insurance medical coverages.  It may be that your PIP is primary but that his insurance (if he has certain coverages) is then responsible if your limits are exceeded and he has higher limits or more medical coverages.

What you can do is have the boyfriend’s insurance company explain to you why they are denying your claims and have your insurer tell you why they believe they can sue his insurance company to recoup the monies they've paid out. 

If after hearing the explanations you are still concerned, contact your state’s insurance regulator for consumer advice on the situation.  You may find that you will need to seek legal advice on what your options are for getting all of your daughter’s medical bills paid.

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