This is a pretty common situation. You’re a passenger in a car driven by a friend, and you’re hit by an underinsured motorist. Or, you’re driving a friend’s car or a company car, and you’re hit by an uninsured motorist.
What happens? Where do you look for coverage?
In these situations, there are two primary places you can look for coverage.
First, look to the insurance company that covers the vehicle you are in or using. Any uninsured/underinsured policy provides coverage to the driver and all passengers occupying the vehicle when it is in an accident with an uninsured/underinsured motorist.
The key to these claims is that you have to be occupying the vehicle. There are a number of cases where people have just exited the vehicles, been walking away from the vehicles, etc. before being hit by an uninsured driver, and courts have held that those victims were not “occupying” the vehicles, and thus, there was no coverage.
Second, look to your own automobile insurance. If you have purchased uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, it will cover you (with a couple of minor exceptions) whenever you’re hit by an uninsured motorist regardless of where you are. You can be hit in your own car, hit while in another car, hit while walking down the street, or hit on a bicycle, and you will be covered by your own policy.
If you’re in a wreck, and both of these are available to you, you can make claims on both policies. We have represented a number of people who have been passengers in vehicles that were hit by uninsured or underinsured drivers and have made claims on the policy covering the car they were in and also their own policy covering their own cars.