UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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If you’re driving someone else’s vehicle, then you may or may not be covered by car insurance. Some drivers are always covered when borrowing someone else’s car. Other drivers may not be covered. Today, we’re explaining everything you need to know about being covered by car insurance when borrowing someone else’s car, including situations where you are covered and where you are not covered.
Car Insurance Follows the Car
If you are driving your friend’s vehicle, and your friend has valid insurance for that vehicle, then you should be covered. That’s because car insurance typically follows the car – not the driver.
In other words, when you lend your car to a friend, you’re not just lending your vehicle to that friend; you’re also lending your car insurance. Your car insurance policy extends to cover your friend. If your friend gets into an accident while driving your vehicle, then your car insurance would be the primary liability. Your car insurance would cover the costs of the accident.
Will My Car Insurance Cover Me When Driving Someone Else’s Vehicle?
There are certain situations where your own car insurance policy will come into effect when driving a friend’s vehicle.
Let’s say you and your friend both have car insurance. You drive your friend’s car and get into an accident. Your friend’s car insurance policy is the primary coverage, which means it covers all expenses first up to the limits of the policy.
If the costs of the accident exceed the limits of your friend’s insurance policy, however, then your own car insurance policy could come into play. In this situation, your friend’s car insurance would be entirely used up first, and then your own car insurance would cover any remaining expenses, up to the limits of your policy.
Who is Covered When Driving My Vehicle?
Your car insurance should follow the car whenever somebody else is driving your vehicle, assuming the other person has permission to drive your vehicle.
Your car insurance will only extend to non-excluded drivers. If an excluded driver drives your vehicle with your permission, then your car insurance may be voided.
Generally, you have to manually exclude certain drivers from your policy in order for them to no longer be covered by car insurance. You might exclude your spouse after she gets a DUI, for example, because it would raise insurance premiums. If your spouse is excluded from your insurance policy, then your spouse will not be covered when driving your vehicle.
At-Fault Versus Not-At-Fault Accidents
You should be covered when borrowing someone else’s vehicle, assuming the other driver has valid insurance. You will be covered in both at-fault and not-at-fault accidents. However, insurance will handle claims differently for at-fault and not-at-fault accidents:
At-Fault: If you borrow a friend’s vehicle and you are at-fault, then your friend’s car insurance policy will cover the property damage and medical bills of any injured parties in the other vehicle, up to the limits of your friend’s insurance policy. If your friend’s insurance policy limits are exhausted, then your own insurance policy could be used. The other driver and passengers could also file a lawsuit against you for additional damages, in which case your car insurance should cover you up to the limits of your policy.
Not At-Fault: If you are driving a friend’s vehicle and get into an accident where you were not at-fault, then the other driver’s car insurance policy will cover any property damage and bodily injury expenses up to the limits of his or her insurance policy. Your friend’s insurance policy should not take a hit, and your friend won’t need to pay higher insurance premiums.
When Are You Not Covered by a Friend’s Car Insurance Policy?
Generally, your friend’s car insurance will cover you when you borrow your friend’s vehicle. However, there are certain situations where you will not be covered when borrowing a friend’s vehicle, including all of the following:
When You Borrow the Vehicle Too Frequently: If you drive your friend’s car regularly, then you may not be covered by your friend’s car insurance policy. Someone who drives a friend’s vehicle daily, for example, may be considered the primary driver, even though they’re not listed on the policy. This is a problem in the eyes of your insurance company, and it may cause your claim to be rejected.
When You Are a Member of the Household: If you are a member of your friend’s household, then you may not be covered when driving your friend’s vehicle. If you and your friend share the same address, then you may need to be listed on your friend’s insurance policy. If you share the same address and you are not listed, then your insurance company may deny a claim after an accident.
When You Are Using the Car for Business Purposes: Insurance companies typically do not extend coverage to drivers who are using the car for business purposes. If you are driving your friend’s car for work-related activities or driving for Uber, for example, then you may not be covered. Driving to work generally does not fall into this category. However, driving between clients or transporting things for work may count as driving for business purposes. In these situations, your friend’s car insurance company may deny coverage.
Conclusion: Insurance Follows the Car, and You Should Be Covered
In most situations, the insurance policy follows the car, which means you will be covered when driving your friend’s vehicle, assuming your friend has valid insurance and has given you permission to drive the vehicle.
However, it’s important to verify that you are not an excluded driver. Some drivers are excluded from coverage if living at the same address, for example, or when driving a friend’s vehicle for work purposes. Contact the car insurance company if unsure about whether or not you are covered when driving a friend’s vehicle.