Types of Personal Injury Insurance Coverage: Auto and Homeowners Policies

Take a deep dive into types of coverage available under auto insurance and homeowners insurance policies. See your options for pursuing injury compensation.

Auto accidents and slip and falls are among the most common reasons for preventable injury claims.¹

Here we guide you through the different kinds of coverages under automobile insurance policies and homeowners insurance policies that can pay for bodily injuries and related damages.

Automobile Insurance Coverage Breakdown

Most personal injury claims are filed with auto insurance companies. If you are injured in a motor vehicle accident, you basically have two insurance choices:

  1. File a claim with your own insurance carrier, called a first-party claim
  2. File a claim against the other driver’s insurance, called a third-party claim

The holder of an auto insurance policy is the first party. The insurance company is the second party. An at-fault driver is the third party. This is true even if you and the third party are insured by the same company.

Personal auto policies are issued to private individuals. Commercial vehicle policies will have the same mandatory coverages, although typically with much higher coverage limits.

Every state mandates auto insurance policies to provide a minimum amount of liability coverage. Many require uninsured motorist coverage and some also require specific injury coverage.

Mandatory In all States:

  • Bodily Injury Liability
  • Property Damage Liability

Mandatory in Some States:

  • Uninsured Motorist
  • Personal Injury Protection (PIP)

Optional Injury Coverages:

  • Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
  • Med-Pay
  • Uninsured Motorist
  • Underinsured Motorist

Get to Know Your Car Insurance Policy

It’s important to know the type and amount of insurance coverage you have. Not everyone who drives your car is automatically covered. The quickest way to find out all the coverages included in your policy is by reading your insurance contract’s Declaration Page.

When you’re the injured victim in a car accident, it’s not always easy to figure out the at-fault driver’s coverage. Even if the driver hands over the name of their insurance company, the adjuster will not automatically disclose the policy limits.

Most insurance policies cover anyone with permission to drive the covered vehicle, but there are some exceptions. Not every member of the policy holder’s household may be covered. For example, an adult child with a poor driving record may be excluded.

Dealing with Multiple Polices

On the other hand, there may be multiple insurance policies that can apply to your injury claim. For example, if you were hit by a teen driver who shares residency with divorced parents. The negligent teen may be a covered driver under each parent’s auto policy.

Multiple policies may come into play when a company driver is at fault for a crash, such as the commercial vehicle policy and the driver’s personal auto policy.

There are many circumstances where multiple policies come into play for severe injury claims. In complicated cases like these, an experienced attorney can ensure your financial interests are protected.

Mandatory Auto Policy Coverages

Bodily Injury Liability (BI)

BI pays for injuries to others caused by the insured driver. Most car accident injury claims are settled by payments from the at-fault driver’s bodily injury liability coverage.

Each state mandates a minimum coverage limit for bodily injury coverage.

Damages paid by BI claims can include:

  • Medical bills, including  physical therapy and rehab
  • Out-of-pocket expenses like medications and bandages
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Funeral expenses
  • Replacement services, like yard care or housekeeping

You and your household family members cannot make a claim against your own bodily injury liability coverage.

However, a passenger in your vehicle who’s injured when you cause an accident can make a claim against your BI coverage, so long as the injured passenger is not a member of your household.

Auto policies generally have two limits for bodily injury coverage: A per-person limit and a per accident limit, such as $50,000/$100,000.

The per-person limit applies to each person injured in an accident. If the person who hit you has a per-person limit of $50,000, the most you can get from their insurance company for your injuries is $50,000.

The per-accident limit applies when more than one person is hurt in the same accident. If the per-accident limit is $100,000, and three people are injured, the $100,000 will be split between them. It is the only amount available for their combined damages.

Property Damage Liability (PD)

PD coverage pays for the other driver’s vehicle damage that was caused by the insured driver. You would make a claim against the at-fault driver’s property damage liability coverage to pay for your vehicle repairs.

In some cases, the other driver’s PD coverage will pay for a rental vehicle while your car is being repaired.

You cannot make a claim against your own property damage liability coverage.

Personal Injury Protection Coverage (PIP)

If you live in a state with no-fault insurance laws, your insurance company is required to include Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage in your auto insurance policy.

In no-fault states, if your injury-related expenses fall within your PIP limits, you can’t make an injury claim against the other driver (unless your injuries exceed a severity “threshold”).

The other driver can’t make a PIP claim on your policy, but PIP will cover your vehicle passengers.

PIP covers medical bills and related costs for you and your passengers no matter who caused the accident. PIP insurance won’t pay for pain and suffering, and it doesn’t cover property damage.

PIP typically covers:

  • Medical expenses
  • Out-of-pocket expenses for things like medications, bandages, and crutches
  • Lost wages
  • Funeral expenses
  • Replacement services, like house cleaning and childcare

Uninsured Motorist Coverage

In the United States, 22 jurisdictions mandate uninsured motorist coverage. In the remaining states, uninsured motorist coverage is optional.

Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury Coverage (BIUM) kicks in when you’re injured in a car accident caused by a driver who does not have insurance at the time of the crash.

If your policy has Uninsured Motorist Property Damage (PDUM) coverage, vehicle damage caused by an uninsured driver is covered, up to the coverage limit.

Optional Auto Policy Coverages

Insurers are not obligated to offer every kind of optional auto coverage in every state. Check with your insurance agent to see what’s available in your region.

Med-Pay Coverage

Medical Payments (Med-Pay) is optional coverage for minor medical expenses. Med-Pay usually has a much lower coverage limit than PIP, and only covers medical expenses, not lost wages or replacement services.

Med-Pay will cover medical expenses for you and your passengers up to the coverage limit, and may include a death benefit.

Some companies will “double” Med-Pay coverage with confirmation (like from the police report) that you were wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash.

Example: Med-Pay Coverage for Single-Car Accident  

Karen was driving home from work on a wintry night when an icy patch sent her spinning broadside into a concrete road divider.

Karen suffered a broken arm and severe concussion when the driver’s side of her car slammed into the concrete. Her medical bills added up to $8,000.

Because Karen was wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash, her $5,000 Med-Pay limit doubled to $10,000, so her medical expenses were covered.

Underinsured Motorist Coverage

Every state is different when it comes to uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage.

In some states, insurance companies are required to offer coverages equal to your liability limits, and make you sign a form to prove you rejected the offer. In other states, it’s up to you to ask your agent for optional coverage.

In any case, you will pay a higher premium for the added protection you get with uninsured and underinsured coverage.

Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM) helps pay for your damages when you’ve been injured in a car accident caused by a driver who has car insurance, but not enough to cover your damages.

Example: Underinsured Motorist Insurance Claim 

Bob was making a late-night run for carry-out food when an SUV drifted over the center line and crashed head-on into Bob’s sedan.

The SUV belonged to Larry, who had fallen asleep at the wheel after working a double shift. Both men were severely injured. Bob’s medical bills totaled more than $70,000.

Unfortunately, Larry only carried $20,000 in liability coverage on his auto policy.

Larry’s insurance carrier accepted full liability for the crash and immediately sent a check for the $20,000 policy limits to Bob’s attorney.

Bob carried $100,000 in underinsured motorist coverage on his auto policy. Bob’s attorney filed an underinsured motorist claim with Bob’s insurance company.

Bob’s attorney negotiated a UIM settlement for $90,000 in addition to the $20,000 from Larry’s insurance company.

Because Bob carried underinsured motorist coverage, he was fully compensated in the amount of $110,000 for his medical expenses and pain and suffering.

Homeowner’s Insurance Injury Coverage

When you’re injured away from home because of a dog attack or a hazard on the premises, chances are your injury will be covered by a homeowner’s insurance policy.

Homeowner’s insurance doesn’t just cover damage from falling trees, fires, and other catastrophic events. It also pays for injuries and property damage sustained by others when the homeowner or a covered member of the household is legally responsible.

Homeowners liability coverage will pay for the injured person’s:

  • Medical costs
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Funeral costs

You can’t make a liability claim against your own insurance policy, even if another family member caused your injuries.

The most common homeowner liability claims are for slip and fall accidents, swimming pool accidents, and injuries suffered by contractors while working. If you were invited to a home and were injured, you probably have a valid claim.

You Don’t Always Need an Invitation for Coverage

You don’t have to be an invited guest to file a liability claim if the homeowner’s dog attacked you. For example, if the dog escaped from the owner’s fenced-in yard and bit you as you were walking down the sidewalk, you have a valid injury claim.

The homeowner may also be responsible for injuries to your child even if the child entered the property without permission. Under the attractive nuisance doctrine, the property owner may be responsible for failing to fence a pool, or for other dangers that may be dangerous for children.

You can file a homeowner’s claim for compensation when:

  1. The property owner had a duty of care to avoid harm to others
  2. The owner knew or should have known of the danger
  3. The owner neglected to take reasonable steps to remove the danger or protect others from harm
  4. If not for the property owner’s negligence, you would not be injured

If you’ve been injured on a residential property, be sure to get the homeowner’s insurance information. Contact the company and file your injury claim.

Multiple factors can affect the value of your bodily injury claim. Depending on the circumstances of your injuries, you may have recourse against multiple policies of one type of insurance (like auto insurance) or against more than one type of insurance provider.

Don’t wait to find out what kind of insurance covers your injury. Some types of injury claims have a very short statute of limitations. If you miss the deadline, you forfeit your chance to seek compensation, no matter how badly you’ve been hurt.

Most reputable injury attorneys offer a free initial consultation. There’s no cost to finding out what a good attorney can do for you.

Personal Injury Insurance Coverage Questions

Charles R. Gueli, Esq. is a personal injury attorney with over 20 years of legal experience. He’s admitted to the NY State Bar, and been named a Super Lawyer for the NY Metro area, an exclusive honor awarded to the top five percent of attorneys. Charles has worked extensively in the areas of auto accidents,... Read More >>