Visitor Question

UIM coverage as a passenger in someone else’s vehicle?

Submitted By: Brendan (California)

I was riding in the passenger seat with the registered and insured owner behind the wheel. She carried the state minimum required amount of insurance. She was involved in an accident with the other driver having a similar state minimum requirement amount of insurance.

I am well insured, and carry UIM (Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage). My insurance company has given me two different answers. One answer is that my UIM covers me in ANY automobile accident, regardless of whether I’m driving or a passenger in any vehicle, or even as a pedestrian struck by a motorist.

The second answer is that my UIM only covers people in my personal vehicle, regardless of whether I’m even in the vehicle.

I am disabled and do not drive, nor does anyone drive my car. My insurer convinced me to keep my high levels of coverage based on the premise that my UIM coverage would protect me in nearly all accidents in which a motor vehicle accident caused me to experience a loss.

Can you tell me which answer seems more likely? What can be done here? Thanks.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear Brendan,

Your uninsured/underinsured coverage is meant to cover the difference in the amount of insurance between the driver’s maximum policy limit and the amount required to treat your injuries (in addition to associated out-of-pocket costs for such items as medications, cervical collars, chiropractic care, etc.).

Start by visiting with your doctor to determine the approximate amount of money you will need to cover your present and future medical, chiropractic, and therapeutic costs, as well as approximate out-of-pocket costs.

With that information in hand, contact your insurance company’s representatives and give them the supporting documentation. Then, leave it up to your insurance company to investigate the matter. They will do so by contacting the driver of the car and the driver’s insurance company.

You really have little to be concerned about. That’s why you pay insurance premiums.

Learn more here: California Car Accident Guide

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney.

Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call 888-972-0892.

We wish you the best with your claim,


One comment on “UIM coverage as a passenger in someone else’s vehicle?

  1. Brendan says:

    I think I got the answer I need. Insurance companies have subrogation investigators, and whoever pays, I just want to be covered. The accident involved the vehicle I was riding in, being driven by the registered owner carrying the state’s minimum liability coverage.

    The other vehicle was also being driven by its registered owner carrying the state’s minimum liability coverage.

    I just wanted to know that, if all parties’ maximum benefits were paid, and it did not fully cover my loss, would my auto insurance policy’s UIM come into the equation to cover any of my losses?

    I don’t drive, but I own a car. Every few months, I start it up and pull out of my garage into my driveway and let it idle for half an hour. Then I back it back into the garage and disconnect the battery. It’s less than one mile per year.

    However, I have liability coverage of $500k/$1m, solely because my UIM limits cannot be of greater value of my liability coverage.

    In the two opposing answers I got from my insurer, it made me question why I should carry anything above the state’s minimum requirement.

    A third phone call to my insurer resulted in the same answer as the first: If I experience a loss due to an event involving any motor vehicle, as a passenger in anyone’s vehicle, as a pedestrian, or if a car damages my property, I am covered by UIM if the responsible parties did not have adequate coverage to address my losses… my UIM would protect me while the insurers would fight amongst themselves, leaving me alone while I recover.

    I love insurance. I used to drive over 45k miles a year, and not one of the six at-fault drivers who collided with my vehicle had insurance. USSA has always had a rental car waiting upon discharge unless I told them not to.

    I don’t know if I get a second bite, but if the first and third answers from my insurer strike you as reality, please let me know. I am impaired by strong pain medication, so I sometimes need simple answers nailed to my forehead before I understand.

    Thank you.

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