Who’s Covered by My Car Insurance?

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Now that you know the (totally boring) basics of Pennsylvania car insurance, don’t you want to know who’s covered by your car insurance policy, or under whose policy you may be covered?  They’re great questions, and the answers may surprise you.

Obviously, anyone driving your car (or truck, RV, bus, motorcycle, scooter, etc.) is covered by your car insurance policy.  But is anyone else?  Pennsylvania’s insurance code says your insurance policy also applies to “you and the members of your household.” That’s not entirely true, though.  Your insurance policy does, of course, apply to you, but it doesn’t necessarily apply to all members of your household.  In fact, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has said it only applies to you, some relatives with whom you reside, and anyone specifically named in the policy.

Let’s start with your relatives. First and foremost, they have to actually live with you (thus making them “resident relatives,” as the insurance code names them).  If your relatives are your neighbors – even if they live at the same physical address, but in a different apartment – they don’t live with you.  So, they wouldn’t be covered by your policy (and you wouldn’t be covered by theirs).  For the relatives with whom you do live, some, but not necessarily all, would be covered by your policy (and you by theirs).  Confusing, right?  Let’s flush this out a little.  Here’s a brief list, in no particular order, of the most often covered relatives:

  • Parents and siblings
  • Biological Children, adopted / foster children, and step children
  • Grandparents and grandchildren
  • Aunts, uncles, and cousins
  • Nieces and nephews

This list isn’t exhaustive, of course, but it is pretty comprehensive. It identifies the resident relatives I most often see covered by insurance.  Your choice of insurance coverage  applies to everyone on that list, and, more importantly, their insurance coverage applies to you.  So make sure everyone with whom you live knows the 9 insurance coverages they need to more fully protect themselves . . . and you.

Are nonrelatives with whom you live covered by your policy? Sometimes, but usually not.  When you bought your car insurance, you identified all the people with whom you live – roommates, friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, same-sex partners, etc. – and were asked whether you want your policy to cover them.  If you wanted them covered, you specifically asked for the coverage.  If approved by the insurance company, they’ll now be listed on your Declarations Page as “insureds” or “drivers,” meaning they’re covered.  If the insurance company denied the coverage, or if you asked for them to be excluded from coverage, they’ll be listed on the Declarations Page as “Excluded Drivers,” meaning they’re not covered and not allowed to drive your car.

Not too complicated, right?

I know it can be really confusing and totally overwhelming, so don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions.  I’m a Philadelphia car accident lawyer with an intimate knowledge of car insurance, and I’m always happy to help.  You may not need a lawyer, but I’m here if you want one.

Tom Gibbons
1845 Walnut Street, 25th Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19103Phone: 215-274-0173
Facsimile: (215) 525-1199www.gibbonslegal.com

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