UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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If your friend or family member ever asked to borrow your car, you might quickly agree and think nothing of it. While helping others should be a simple deed, when auto insurance gets involved, the situation might get a bit more complicated. Before you blindly allow to let anyone get behind the wheel of your car, you need to think of some issues, most notably: does my car insurance cover any driver? Will my car insurance cover accidents with my vehicle even if I’m not there at the scene? To know the answers to these questions, you have to have a good understanding of the fine print of your auto insurance policy.
In the United States, all car owners are legally required to carry at least the minimum required auto insurance coverage. This minimum required auto insurance, however, does not necessarily cover your friends when they get behind the wheel of your car. Continue reading this article to discover what your auto insurance covers and what it does not. It is not always a guarantee that your friends will be covered when driving your vehicle.
Does My Auto Insurance Cover My Friends When They Drive My Car?
This question is commonly asked and for good reason – auto insurance is confusing and getting into an accident without proper coverage can literally bankrupt you. To better understand this question, you first need to know about the auto insurance types and policies. Some insurance policies cover the driver, while other insurance policies cover the car. Therefore, there is simply no “yes” or “no” answer to this question. It all depends on the person’s unique auto insurance policy.
Generally speaking, your auto insurance policy will cover the vehicle and not the driver. Like every time you are “generally speaking”, however, there will be some exceptions. If the driver you are lending your vehicle to is a licensed driver in good standing, chances are he will be covered under your (or his/her) auto insurance policy. Like just stated, however, there are exceptions to rules. Let’s read more about the technical side of it below to get a better understanding.
If you have liability insurance, you, yourself, will be covered if you are driving behind the wheel. This coverage will follow you to other vehicles as well (including your friends’). So, if you have liability coverage and get behind the wheel of your friend’s car, you will be covered. The opposite is also true – if your friends get behind the wheel of your car they will be covered (given they have liability coverage).
If you have comprehensive and collision coverage, your car will be covered no matter who is driving. These coverage types are linked to the vehicle and not the driver (although some insurance companies ask for drivers to be listed on the policies). If other drivers are driving your car and get into an accident, damage to your car will be covered as long as these coverage types are in place.
When Can You Let Friends Borrow Your Cars?
If you want to avoid serious problems, it’s wise to make sure that you know when it is safe to let a friend drive your car. Generally, it’s a wise idea to ensure that the person you are thinking about giving permission to drive your car carries his or her own liability coverage. Liability insurance is legally required; however, just because you carry this type of insurance yourself, it doesn’t mean that your coverage will extend to anyone else who drives your vehicle. Rather, this type of insurance coverage follows the driver. In other words, if a friend is going to operate your car and he has liability insurance, his insurance will cover him while he is driving your car. If he were to get into an accident while operating your vehicle, his insurance provider would pay to repair any damages that your car sustains.
However, that’s not to say that you can’t let a friend drive your car if he or she doesn’t have liability coverage. If you carry collision or comprehensive coverage on your vehicle, it will be covered no matter who is operating it. That’s because, unlike liability coverage, collision and comprehensive insurance are connected to the vehicle, not the driver. Therefore, if you have one or both of these types of coverage and a friend is involved in an accident while driving your car, the damages your vehicle sustains will be covered by your insurance provider. However, if you do have collision and/or comprehensive auto insurance, make sure that you check with your carrier before letting someone else operate your car. Some insurance companies require you to list anyone who will be operating your car on your policy. It’s better to check with your provider before allowing a friend to drive your car and assume that the coverage is effective, only to find out that an accident does occur and your insurance won’t cover the damages.
With all of that said, if a friend is only going to borrow your car once in a while – to run a quick errand once or twice a year – generally, it would be alright to let him drive your car. However, if he plans on taking a road trip, it’s not recommended unless he has liability coverage or you carry collision and/or comprehensive coverage. As always, check with your insurance provider to find out the rules regarding someone else driving your car.
When You Shouldn’t Let Your Friends Borrow Your Car
Are there times when you shouldn’t let a friend drive your car? Yes! Even though you want to be a helpful friend, letting someone borrow your car isn’t in your best interest in the following situations:
- Borrowing on a regular basis (more than 12 times a year, for example). For instance, you shouldn’t let your best friend drive your car to work once a week. If you do, you will want to have that person listed on your insurance.
- For long road trips. If you’re planning on letting someone else drive your car across state lines, it’s in your best interest to add that person to your insurance policy before handing over the keys. The same is true if you are going to be driving long distances with a friend and plan on sharing the driving.
- People who you live with (unless you list them on your policy). Your insurance company will assume that anyone who lives with you will drive your vehicle on a frequent basis (more than 12 times a year), and therefore that person should be listed on your insurance. This includes children, spouses, and anyone else you reside with and plan on granting permission to drive your car.
- Dangerous drivers. If someone has a history of risky driving, it’s advisable to avoid letting that person drive your vehicle unless he carries liability coverage himself, or you carry collision and/or comprehensive coverage
Coverage For Other Drivers Depends On Your Policy
Some insurance companies are more lenient than others when it comes to who they allow you to lend your vehicle to. Some say that you can let your family members drive and occasionally let your friends drive and still always be covered. Other insurance companies, might be more strict with their policies and only allow YOU to get behind the wheel of YOUR vehicle. It all depends on your unique company and policy.
One of the main things that you need to watch out for in your auto insurance policy if you plan to lend your car to friends on a regular basis, is that your policy does not have an exclusion for other drivers. Some policies (although not common), have specific lines in their contracts prohibiting other drivers from driving your vehicle. Your policy most likely does not have this extra clause listed, however, if it does, you might find yourself in trouble if your friend gets into an accident while driving your car.
If you are unsure of whether or not your friends will be covered when driving your vehicle, it is best to call up your insurance agent to talk about who is covered and who is not. Like stated above, there is no “yes” or “no” answer to this question and it varies from policy to policy.