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Does my health insurance cover car accidents?

Car CrashWhen searching for health insurance, there are lots of things you need to take into consideration before purchasing coverage to ensure the plan fits your needs. There is the cost of the plan, making sure the benefits are what you need and required by your school (if they have requirements) and then there are the exclusions on the policy – what the plan does not cover.

One area of coverage that is oftentimes overlooked is coverage for car accidents. Whether you are driving a car or you are a passenger, you will want to make sure that your plan covers you in case something happens as not all plans are the same and some may limit or exclude it!

Auto Insurance Coverage

When we talk about car accidents, we are referring to coverage for bodily injuries that occur from being in a car accident and NOT damage to your car or another person’s car. Health insurance plans will never cover standard auto insurance benefits which actually insure the car – so we need to be clear on this. If you are driving a car, you will need to make sure you have appropriate auto insurance in place, which can either be obtained from the company you rented the car from, or whosever car you are borrowing or using.

Included Benefits

Your biggest concern when looking for an appropriate insurance plan is making sure that the plan will cover you if you are in an auto accident. If your plan does not mention car or auto accidents in the benefits or exclusions, then typically your plan will include full coverage for those events. Unfortunately, not all insurance plans are the same and there are good number of plans out there that will either limit, or perhaps even fully exclude car-related injuries. You cannot assume that this will automatically be covered, so it’s important to check the policy benefits and the exclusion list (in most cases it will be listed as a policy exclusion) located in the policy certificate.

Excluded in Certain Situations

Even if your plan does include coverage for car accidents, you should be mindful that other exclusions may come into play when either driving or as a passenger in a car. The most common areas are:

  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Racing
  • Committing a felony

If your injury from a car accident was in anyway related to any of the items listed above, they would typically be excluded and you would be responsible for your full medical costs.

Medical Coverage from an Auto Plan

There could be some instances where the auto insurance plan for the car you are driving, or being driven around in, will cover some or all of your medical costs if there was an accident. This will depend on the type of auto insurance plan, so while it could be a backup, it should not be relied upon as the sole way to be covered from an auto accident.

What if I get hit by a car?

Most of the scenarios in this blog have dealt with car accidents as either a driver or passenger, but what if you are hit by a car either riding your bike or walking in the road? In nearly all circumstances, unless the incident was related to one of the exclusions of your policy, this should be covered. In many cases, if this were to happen, some state laws in the US require that auto insurance plans include some form of third party coverage. It might only be a limited amount, maybe $10,000 or $20,000, but it could be higher depending on the type of auto insurance the driver had. These funds would pay your medical expenses, and then anything over these amounts would be your responsibility. If you have a health insurance policy, however, your health insurance would kick in and pay these benefits instead.

Hopefully this has given you some guidance on what to look for when purchasing an insurance plan. It can start to get tricky when you are dealing with car accidents because there could be coverage from the actual auto policy, as we highlighted above, but then if there are two cars involved, the one responsible for the accident should actually pay. So the best way to handle this is to make sure your own insurance plan covers what you need and you do not rely on auto insurance medical coverage.


Posted by Ross Mason

Ross is the Vice President of International Student Insurance, with over 15 years experience in the international education arena. A graduate from the Nottingham Trent University in the UK with a First in BSc (Hons) Business and Technology, Ross has lived all around the world including LA, New York, Boston, London, Hong Kong, Florida and Germany.

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