Carpooling and Play Dates: Who Is Covered by Your Car Insurance?

secure Editorial Standards

SmartFinancial Offers Unbiased, Fact-based Information. Our fact-checked articles are intended to educate insurance shoppers so they can make the right buying decisions. Learn More

Sharing driving responsibilities is what many Americans do, whether it’s driving the kids to play dates or carpooling to and from work. If you’re like most parents, you drive your kids everywhere, and you often drive their friends too. In return, other parents drive your kids around. You’ve probably wondered what would happen if you were in an accident and the kids in the car were injured. And what would happen if your child were injured in an accident in someone else’s car? Whose car insurance would cover injuries and damages if you were in an accident while carpooling to work?

Let’s take a look at which type of insurance would cover the passengers in an accident when there are people outside of the immediate family in the car.

Key Takeaways

  • If you’re in an accident that is your fault, your liability car insurance will not cover you and your family members’ injuries.
  • If you’re in an accident that is your fault, your liability coverage will cover all non-family passengers in your car and the other car in addition to damages to the other car and personal property of all third parties.
  • If you live in a no-fault state, you have PIP car insurance coverage, which offers medical coverage to you and your immediate family members in the event of an accident.

Immediate Family Members and Car Insurance Coverage

Most standard car insurance policies automatically cover immediate family members, including spouses and children who live in the same household as the policyholder. Coverage typically extends to anyone driving the insured vehicle who is not excluded and has express permission to use the car.

If you’re in an accident that is your fault, your liability coverage will not cover you and your family members’ injuries. You can get coverage through your health insurance policy, personal injury protection (PIP), which is required car insurance coverage in some states, or medical payments (MedPay) coverage.

If you have health insurance and want to avoid paying high deductibles and copays that may be applicable, medical payments coverage may be something to consider adding to your car insurance policy.

If you live in one of the following states, you have PIP, which offers medical coverage to you and your immediate family members in the event of an accident:

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

Your liability coverage will cover your non-family passengers and all other injured third parties as well the personal property of all third parties.

Non-Family Members and Car Insurance Coverage

Play Dates

Let’s say you had a car accident driving the kids to soccer practice. All the children, except your own, would be covered by the bodily injury liability portion of your liability insurance coverage. Your children would be covered by PIP or MedPay coverage, if you have it, or their primary health insurance policy.

The same goes for the other parents who are also doing their part by picking up and dropping off the kids at their play dates and after-school activities. Their liability coverage, which is required by law, would pay for any doctor or hospital visits resulting from the accident if your child were injured in a car accident they caused.

If your child(ren) were injured in a car accident that was the other driver’s fault, they would be covered by that driver’s liability insurance coverage and so would you.


If you carpool to work and there is an accident, the responsible driver’s liability car insurance would cover all the injured parties except himself. The driver (and any immediate family members in the car) would be covered by MedPay car insurance coverage, if they have it, or PIP, if it’s required by the state they live in. Otherwise, they’d have to use their health insurance coverage.

Let’s say you’re carpooling but you’re driving another colleague’s car that day. In this instance, the car insurance would follow the car, so your colleague's liability coverage should provide compensation for injuries and damages to you and other passengers in the car but not himself.

Liability Insurance: Required by Law

You can see why liability insurance is a crucial component of auto insurance that is required by law in most states across the United States. It serves as a fundamental safety net, protecting both drivers and passengers from the financial consequences of accidents and injuries on the road.

The primary purpose of liability insurance is to cover the costs associated with injuries to others or damage to their property if you are at fault in an accident. This includes medical expenses, rehabilitation, pain and suffering, lost wages, and repair or replacement of damaged vehicles or property.

The specific requirements for liability insurance vary from state to state. Each state sets its minimum coverage limits, which determine the minimum amount of liability insurance a driver must carry. For example, one state might require drivers to have coverage limits of $25,000 for bodily injury per person and $50,000 for bodily injury per accident, along with $25,000 for property damage. Compliance with these minimum limits is mandatory for all registered vehicles.

Liability insurance, required by law, not only safeguards the financial well-being of drivers but also ensures that those who suffer injuries or property damage in accidents receive proper compensation.

An Accident With an Uninsured Driver

Let’s say you have a car packed with people and you get hit by another car, which is at fault but the driver doesn’t have car insurance.

Types of Coverage

When It Applies

Liability Coverage

If the other driver and their passengers are hurt as well as non-family members in your car are injured and the accident is your fault.

Health Insurance

Injuries to you and your passengers who are family members if you are at fault.

Medical Payments

Injuries to you and your passengers who are family members if you are at fault and don’t want to pay health insurance deductibles.

The Other Driver’s Liability Coverage

Injuries to you and all of your passengers if they are at fault.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Injuries to all of your passengers if the other driver is at fault and has little or no liability insurance.

Personal Injury Protection

Everyone has coverage for their own injuries in no-fault states where this is required.

Need Better Coverage? Compare Quotes Now!

Carpooling and Play Dates FAQs

Does my personal auto insurance cover carpooling, or do I need special insurance for it?

In most cases, personal auto insurance policies cover carpooling for non-commercial purposes. However, if you receive payment or compensation for providing rides, you may need commercial auto insurance.

Do I need to inform my insurance company if I start carpooling or driving my kids’ sports teams?

Your personal auto insurance would be sufficient for these activities, however, it’s a good idea to inform your insurance company about carpooling and driving a sports team on a regular basis, to ensure you have adequate coverage in case of an accident.

Does my car insurance policy cover property damage if someone else's property gets damaged in a car accident that is my fault?

Yes, your car insurance's property damage liability coverage would cover someone else's property, like a laptop or phone, that gets damaged in an accident. However, it won’t cover damage to your property or those of your immediate family members. For that you’d have to file a home insurance claim, which would cover off-premises personal belongings.

Get a Free Auto Insurance Quote Online Now.