Question: Does liability auto insurance cover medical expenses for a severe burn from an exhaust pipe? My son was putting sporting equipment into the back of an SUV on a friend’s car when his leg was burned on their extended exhaust pipe.

Answer: No, usually the SUV owner’s bodily injury liability wouldn’t cover this type of injury to your son because he was not injured during an actual auto accident.

If a car insurance policy covered this type of injury, it would be by personal injury protection (PIP) or Medical Payments (MedPay) because they give more leeway with how an injury occurs than bodily injury liability does. With these types of coverages, there is a possibility your son’s burns from the hot exhaust system could be covered.

If you have PIP or MedPay as part of your auto insurance policy, speak to your agent to see if this medical coverage would cover the injuries your son sustained. If you don’t have the coverage, ask the SUV owner if he/she does. If he has either PIP or MedPay, see if he will speak to his agent and see if his coverages will pay for your son’s medical expenses.

Whether PIP or MedPay will cover your son’s burns will depend upon state laws that govern these coverages and the terms of the car insurance policy. Some PIP and MedPay policies allow for claims for injuries that arise from the ownership, maintenance or use of a vehicle.

Putting sporting equipment into the vehicle may be considered use of the vehicle, so it’s possible that PIP or MedPay would pay out if he made an auto insurance claim.

It is possible the claim could be denied because the vehicle wasn’t being driven at the time, which may be what the policy describes as use. Or the insurer may not pay out because they find your son negligent for not taking due care and being close enough to a hot extended exhaust pipe to get burned.

If there is no car insurance coverage available for your son to place a claim against, then you may want to contact a liability lawyer to see if the car owner would be responsible for the burn to your son’s leg if you wanted to pursue the owner for payment of his medical bills.

— Penny Gusner contributed to this story.

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Contributing Writer

Shivani Gite is a personal finance and insurance writer with a degree in journalism and mass communication. She is passionate about making insurance topics easy to understand for people and helping them make better financial decisions. When not writing, you can find her reading a book or watching anime.