If your car is at the shop or permanently out of commission, and you need to drive a friend or family member’s car, one of the nagging questions on your mind is probably how insurance coverage works. The answer to this will depend on exact circumstances, but in general car insurance is attached to the car rather than the driver. In this article, Part 1 helps you figure out the coverage details and Part 2 examines some special cases, such as theft.
Part 1 of 2: How to figure out the insurance coverage details
Very rarely in life do you get a straight answer to any question. The good news is that you can expect a little more certainty on the question of who is covered when a car is borrowed. In general, the person who insures the car rather than the driver’s insurance takes effect.
This applies for comprehensive and collision coverage. So, if a friend is borrowing your vehicle and gets into an accident and is at fault, you will be forced to pay for any damages to your vehicle. Your coverage is primary in the case, and the insurance of the driver is secondary.
Note that any of your family living with you and dependents associated with you are covered under the same policy as you, so if your son drives your vehicle, he is covered under your policy.
When you are driving someone else’s vehicle, then, you are covered under the insurance associated with the vehicle rather than your own insurance, and your insurance acts as a backup to the insurer of the car.
This means that you, as a driver of another person’s car, could be on the hook for liability and medical costs that accrue to you as a result of an accident if you are to blame. Also, if your friend’s comprehensive and collision coverage has hit its limit, then you could be forced to pay for this as well.
While this might seem unusual, it makes sense in reality since it is your fault for causing the accident, which means you should have to pay for the other person’s property damage and medical bills.
If, on the other hand, the accident was another driver’s fault, then neither you nor your friend will be on the hook, as is the case with any accident, since the other driver’s insurance company will pay.
Part 2 of 2: Take into consideration some special cases
As with any rule, there is usually an exception or two for special cases. This is no less the case when you lend a car or drive a friend’s car.
One such case is theft. This is known as non-permissive use. When you want to use a car that belongs to a friend or relative, acquiring their permission is the first thing you do. This permission constitutes permissive use.
In the case of non-permissive use, when someone steals a car, the rightful owner of the vehicle is not to blame for the accident and is not held accountable for damages to other vehicles.
Sadly, however, the owner of the vehicle will be responsible for damages caused to the stolen car under comprehensive and collision coverage.
Another case concerns excluded drivers. This is someone your insurance company asks you to exclude from your policy for some reason, such as a history of reckless driving, for example. An excluded family member who drives your car will then not be covered by your policy, and you will be responsible for any damages.
The wise choice is to be careful about who you let drive your car, and when you are driving someone else’s, to recognize the different ways you are covered and not covered and how your driving habits could affect the person who lent you the car.