“Contrary to popular belief, in case of an accident, car insurance follows the car — not the driver. So if you lend your car to a friend or a visiting relative, you could be liable if an accident occurs. Even if your friend has great coverage with the highest limits and the lowest deductibles, your auto insurance would have to cover the damages if your friend got into an accident while driving your car. If you’re thinking of letting someone drive your car for a few hours, days, or weeks, keep in mind that you’re not only lending your car, you’re also lending your car insurance. In most states, comprehensive and collision coverage protects your vehicle regardless of who’s driving it” (Esurance). This is something that can affect many individuals each and every day, but sadly it is soothing post people do not think about until it is too late and something has happened. In the extreme case, something can happen to your vehicle because someone drives it without your permission. What do you do in this case?

Non-Permissive Use of a Vehicle in an Accident

It the worse-case scenario for many people- someone either steals your car or uses it without your permission. When this happens and there is an accident that damages your vehicle, someone else’s vehicle, or someone else’s property, you could find yourself in a lot of hot water. “If your car’s taken without your consent, you won’t be held accountable for any damages. For instance, if a thief takes your car for a joyride and crashes it into a parked BMW 740i, you won’t be liable for any damage to the BMW. However, you’ll most likely have to use your insurance to cover any damages to your vehicle. On the other hand, if a friend borrows your car without your permission and causes an accident, your friend’s insurance will probably be considered primary coverage and yours secondary. If your friend doesn’t have insurance, you’re out of luck. In most circumstances, you’ll have to use your own auto insurance to cover the accident” (Esurance). It is also important to note that unless it is very clear and obviously proven that you expressly deny permission for an individual to use your car, most car insurance companies will assume someone living with you or who you know has permission to use your vehicle. So, if an auto accident were to occur, chances are you’ll still be liable for damages, even if you didn’t personally or verbally hand over the keys. This is why you must carefully consider who you allow to use your vehicle.

Understand Your Car Insurance Coverage and Limitations

One of the most important things you should do as a vehicle owner is understand what is and is not covered by your policy and what exclusions may be included in your auto insurance plan. This will protect you, your vehicle, and other drivers. “As you decide on your coverage, talk to your agent at length about the terms of your coverage, so you know how it will work if an accident does occur. Find out what is not covered or is expressly prohibited on your policy. Also, understand that whether your damages will be covered will depend on your policy. If the other driver was at fault and your own car was damaged, you’ll need collision coverage in order to pay for repairs. If you don’t have it, you’re on your own” (DMV). Any driver needs to know the terms of his or her policy but this is all the more reason to read your policy and understand it inside and out!

Individuals With a Driver’s License But No Vehicle or Insurance

Some auto insurance policies have clauses that deal with an individual driving your car when they have no insurance coverage of their own. This can be risky for both parties involved but some policy providers offer advice on what to do in this kind of situation. Here is some advice from the agents at AllState: If you’re a licensed driver who doesn’t own a vehicle, you likely don’t have a need for a long-term car insurance policy. But, what should you do if you need to temporarily borrow a friend’s car? Are you covered? Here are some points to consider:

  • Your friend’s insurance policy may help provide coverage if you get into an accident.
  • You may be responsible for certain types of damage, depending on what other coverages your friend’s policy includes. For instance, if it doesn’t include collision coverage, you may have to pay for the cost of repairs to your friend’s car if you cause an accident.
  • You may be responsible for costs that exceed the coverage limits on your friend’s car insurance policy.