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What happens if someone else is driving my car and gets into an accident?

 Let's say your best friend wants to borrow your car for a few hours to run errands while the car is in the shop. On the one hand, they would only ask if they really needed it – their cat ran out of food, or their brother needed a ride to work. On the other hand, they are fast drivers and have been in a fender bender or two.

Before handing over the keys, it is a good idea to check the validity of the insurance if you let someone else drive your car. What happens if your friend crashes your car and injures another driver? And if they get a ticket? Consider the answers before you let anyone else get behind the wheel of your vehicle. It's also wise to understand these potential problems before driving someone else's car.

Car insurance usually follows the vehicle

In general, claims arising from the use of a car, regardless of who is driving it, are likely to land first with the insurance company, as long as the driver has your license to drive.

Bodily injury and property liability insurance

If a friend, grandchild, or roommate borrows your car and injures someone else or damages their property, your auto insurance's bodily injury or property liability coverage will usually be included to cover the claim. If the compensation amount is higher than the coverage amount, and the driver also has insurance, their coverage can make up the difference.

Comprehensive and collision coverage

Collision coverage covers the cost of damage to your vehicle from an accident, while comprehensive coverage covers the cost of non-collision-related damage, such as a bird hitting your windshield.

If you don't have comprehensive or collision coverage and your friend borrows your car and damages it, your insurance company won't cover the cost of repairing the damage. Even if your friend has their own collision or comprehensive coverage, their policy likely won't cover the damage to your vehicle. You might have to have an awkward conversation with your friend about repairs.

When can driver's car insurance apply

In some situations or states, certain portions of your friend's insurance policy may be used to cover expenses that exceed policy limits or that are not covered by your policy. Think of borrower coverage as a backup policy. For example, if the person borrowing your car causes more property damage than your car insurance covers, your insurer may pay the remainder of the claim.

PIP, medical payments and uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance

Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage, medical payments coverage, and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage vary widely from state to state. Some states require certain types of insurance, such as PIP, other states allow drivers to decline certain optional coverages (such as PIP insurance), and even more states have no requirement.

Differences between states and policies can make settling financial liability extremely confusing when it comes to collision injuries. For example, a driver's PIP insurance may cover certain medical expenses or other personal injury expenses for the driver or passengers, depending on the state and policy. If the driver does not have PIP, but you (the car owner) do, the insurance company may pay for the injury costs.

Contact your insurer to find out more about coverage for damage and collisions with uninsured drivers and how this applies to someone else borrowing your car. Ask anyone borrowing your car to check their insurance too.

What happens if someone else gets into an accident with my car?

Who the insurance pays for depends on a number of factors, including:
  • Who is to blame
  • How many drivers participated
  • Owner's and driver's insurance policies
  • The type of damage or event
  • State insurance laws
  • For example, suppose your friend borrows your car to run an errand. If they are hit by another driver who is found to be at fault in the accident, that driver's insurance will likely cover the damage to your car and your friend's injuries, depending on the state and how the fault is classified.
If your friend is at fault in an accident, your policy will likely pay the maximum amount for any injuries or damages caused. After the limits are exhausted, your friend's insurer may pay additional costs, or you may both be sued for damages.

In another scenario, your friend sideswipes a metal guardrail, causing $1,500 in damage to your car. It has collision coverage to help fix a deep scrape — but only if you pay the $500 deductible. Does your boyfriend agree to pay the deductible or avoid your calls?