What Will My Car Insurance Policy Cover?


Car insurance claims can be confusing. Certain coverage types pay only for other drivers’ repair bills, others pay only for yours, and whose coverage kicks in first can be affected by the laws of the state you live in.

If you’re not sure whether insurance will pay for medical or repair bills, use the information on this page to get a better idea. Locate the details below that best apply to your situation, and find out whether accident-related bills should be covered by insurance.*

Property Repairs & Replacement

Your car or property

You caused the accident

If you bought collision coverage, it should pay for repairing your car. You most likely will have to pay a deductible before coverage kicks in. If you didn’t add collision to your policy, repairs won’t be covered.

Collision only pays for repairing your car, not other types of property that you own. So, for example, it won’t pay for repairing your fence or garage door if you crash into them.

Someone else caused the accident

The other driver’s liability insurance should pay for repairing your car or property. However, there is a limit on how much the other driver’s insurer will pay. If your repair costs are higher than the amount of insurance the at-fault driver has, you may have to rely on your own insurance or try to collect directly from the other party in order to pay the remaining costs. Your collision coverage may pay those remaining costs if you added it to your policy.

If the other driver wasn’t insured: Your collision or uninsured motorist property damage should pay for repairs. However, both of those coverages are optional. If you didn’t buy them, your repairs probably won’t be covered. There may also be a deductible.

The damage isn’t from an accident

If you bought comprehensive coverage, it should pay for repairing your car if it’s damaged by:

  1. Vandalism
  2. A fallen tree
  3. A hailstorm
  4. Any other incident that didn’t involve a crash

You most likely will have to pay a deductible before coverage kicks in. If you didn’t add comprehensive to your policy, repairs won’t be covered.

Pothole damages: Pothole damages are one exception. Collision — not comprehensive — should pay for pothole-related repairs.

The car was stolen

If you bought comprehensive coverage, it should pay for replacing your car. You may have to pay a deductible to get it covered. If you didn’t add comprehensive to your policy, your insurer won’t pay to replace your car.

Someone else’s car or property

You caused the accident

Your property damage liability insurance should pay for repairing the car or property. However, your insurer will pay only up to the limits on your policy. If the bills are higher than those limits, it’s possible that you could be sued for the remaining costs.

Medical bills

Injuries and medical costs are more complicated than damage to cars and property. The way these costs are handled will depend heavily on which state you live in. Where you live matters because different states have different car insurance regulations for handling claims.

In some states, there is a “no-fault” system where your own insurance will pay your medical bills no matter who caused the accident. The following states have no-fault systems:

  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Utah

In others, the “tort” system applies, and the company insuring the driver who caused the accident will pay for injuries.

Your medical bills

You live in a no-fault state & you caused the accident

Your PIP or medical payments coverage should pay your medical bills. However, it only pays up to the limits on your policy.

You live in a no-fault state & someone else caused the accident

Your PIP or medical payments coverage should pay your medical bills. However, it only pays up to the limits on your policy. If your medical bills are higher than your limits, you may be able to collect from the driver who caused the accident for the remaining costs. If this happens, the other driver’s liability insurance would pay.

You live in a tort state & you caused the accident

If you bought medical payments or PIP, it should cover your medical bills. However, these coverages may be optional in your state. If you didn’t buy them, your medical bills won’t be covered by your auto policy.

You live in a tort state & someone else caused the accident

The other driver’s liability insurance should pay for your medical bills. However, there is a limit to how much the insurer will pay. If your bills are higher than that limit, you may have to rely on your own insurance to pay the remaining costs. If you bought medical payments or PIP, it may cover those remaining bills.

If the other driver wasn’t insured: Your insurance should pay if you bought uninsured motorist, medical payments, or PIP coverage. However, these coverages may be optional in your state. If you didn’t buy any of them, your medical bills won’t be covered.

Someone else’s medical bills

You live in a no-fault state

The victims’ own insurance should pay their medical bills. However, if their bills are higher than their coverage limits, your liability coverage may have to cover their leftover expenses.

You live in a tort state & caused the accident

Your liability insurance should pay their medical bills. However, it only pays up to the limits on your policy. If their bills are higher than those limits, it’s possible that they could sue you for the remaining costs.

*The scenarios listed on this page assume you or the driver was 100% responsible for causing the accident. If it turns out that you or the driver were only partially responsible, things get a little more complicated. In this situation, the details will work out differently depending on the fault laws in your state. Always review your policy documents from your insurance company for full definitions, coverages, limits, and other information regarding your policy.

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Did You Know?

Fault laws

You can be partially responsible for an accident with another driver. In some states, your partial responsibility can affect how much the other driver's insurer will pay for your medical and repair bills.

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