There’s a long list of reasons why someone else might need to drive your car, and we’re often asked whether that “someone else” is covered by the owner’s insurance in the event of an accident.
The short answer is, yes, they are!
Typically, auto insurance coverage follows the car, not the driver. Therefore, your insurance will pay for almost anyone you give permission to drive your car – a “permissive driver” – and typically coverage will be just the same as it would be if you, the owner, were driving. Likewise, if you’re driving a car that belongs to someone else and you cause an accident, their insurance will be the one paying out.
However, in some cases, both the owner and the driver will have claims filed on their insurance policies. That’s because if the owner’s liability limits are not high enough to cover damage and injury to other cars and drivers involved, the borrowing driver’s insurance will also be billed to cover the difference.
What about comprehensive and collision claims, like if a friend borrows your car and accidentally backs into a tree? Well, the car is still covered by your collision coverage (as long as you opted for it), but the two of you will have to work out who pays the deductible. Ultimately, the owner of the car is financially responsible.
There are also a few exceptions to the coverage-follows-car rule that are important to note:
- If you have NOT given someone else permission to drive your car, your coverage does not extend to them. However, you must be able to prove that you did not give permission, which can be difficult.
- If you have specifically excluded someone as a driver on your policy (usually a high-risk or inexperienced driver) in order to keep your rates lower, your insurance will not pay. This is true even if you gave them explicit permission to drive, as they are not covered by your policy.
- If someone is driving your car under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, or without a valid driver’s license, your insurance probably won’t pay.
- Some companies won’t cover a permissible driver under a certain age. Make sure to check whether your policy has an age restriction before you let younger drivers take the wheel.
And yes, no matter who was driving, a significant claim on your car insurance will likely raise your rates.
The moral of the story: be mindful of who you allow to drive your car. Insurance or not, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. But if you do need to hand over the wheel to another driver, rest assured that adequate auto insurance will have you covered.