What Happens if Someone Else Is Driving My Car and Gets in an Accident?

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Lending your car to a friend or family member is common. But we often don’t think about the worst-case scenario when we do this: if someone else wrecks your car.

Your auto insurance protects you financially when driving your car, but will your policy help you out if someone else not on your insurance drives your car and gets in an accident? It’s important to know who’s responsible if someone else wrecks your car so you know what next steps to take. Let’s break it down.

What Happens if Someone Else Is Driving My Car and Gets in an Accident?

If someone else gets in an accident while driving your car, they’re likely covered under your car insurance unless you’ve specifically excluded them from the policy or they used your car without your permission. But coverage varies by state and company. It also depends on the accident type and extent of the damage.

A good way to think about it is like this: car insurance typically follows the car. So, although you’re the policyholder, your car insurance is designed to cover your vehicle. Your carrier will likely cover you when you’re driving your car, any named insured on your policy (like your family), and people you permit to drive your car in case of an accident.

Permission is key. If you allow someone to drive your car, your insurer will likely cover them. If someone gets into an accident after they borrow your car without your permission, then their insurance should be the first to step up. But, this is a tough situation to be in, as you’d have to prove that you didn’t give permission.

Liability Coverage

If a driver with permission to drive your car caused an accident, then the injured or damaged parties that the person hit would file a claim against your insurer. Your liability coverage would pay for medical expenses and property damage for the affected parties (not the person driving your car). Even though you didn’t cause it, the claim would count as a claim for you and potentially raise your rates. You’d also still be on the hook for your deductible.

Liability insurance is the state-mandated insurance you’re required to carry to protect other drivers on the road financially. Liability coverage provides bodily injury and property damage protection. If you cause an accident, your liability coverage, through your insurer, will reimburse the people you crashed into. Your liability coverage is still responsible if someone causes an accident while driving your car.

If someone driving your car got into an accident that they didn’t cause, your insurance may not come into play at all. The person driving your vehicle could file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance, or they could turn to their own personal injury protection (PIP).

Collision Coverage

Like we mentioned earlier, car insurance usually follows the car, not the driver. So, if someone else crashes your car, you’d still need to file a claim with your collision coverage carrier to repair your vehicle (not the other person’s). Your collision coverage is tailored to your vehicle – it wouldn’t make any sense for the other person to file a collision claim with their insurer because that person’s car wasn’t damaged.

Collision coverage safeguards your vehicle in case of an accident whether you (or someone driving your car) caused the accident or not. 

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What Happens if a Friend Wrecked My Car?

So, if your friend borrows your car and gets into an accident, your insurance is likely to cover the damage. But, if the damage exceeds your policy’s limits, your friend’s car insurance may then step in to cover the rest of the costs. 

For instance, if your property damage liability limit is $25,000, and your friend causes an accident with $30,000 in property damage, there will be $5,000 leftover after your insurance pays out. In this case, your friend’s insurance could pay this remaining expense.

A handful of states authorize companies to offer reduced coverage when someone else other than the policyholder is driving, such as California, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Even though you could have sufficient limits when you’re driving, your insurer might lower them if someone else drives your car.

Also, be sure that your policy covers other drivers. You may have signed a policy that didn’t allow it to save money on premiums. Or, some companies may not allow it in the first place. If your carrier does, they may have limits to how many times someone is covered while driving your car.

Also, your insurance company may pay a whole claim if your friend causes an accident, but then look to recoup the money from your friend’s provider later on. This is a process called subrogation, and you and your friend likely won’t be involved in the process. It’ll happen ‘behind the scenes’ between insurers.

What if Someone Took My Car Without Permission and Had an Accident?

If someone took your car without your permission and got in an accident, you or your insurance likely wouldn’t be on the hook for the damages that person caused to other people. Your insurance typically only covers drivers you permit to use your car. But, you’d have to prove that the person didn’t have your permission which can be tricky. Also, you may need to file a claim for the vehicle damage to your car.

Firstly, if someone steals your vehicle, your carrier should cover you. Theft is covered by comprehensive car insurance. But, let’s say your roommate took your car without asking you and caused an accident. Whether you qualify this as theft is dependent on your relationship with your roommate and the circumstances under which he took your car.

If you claim that your roommate stole your car, you need to notify your insurance company as soon as possible. As in, right when you see it’s gone.

Either way, if the driver doesn’t have permission to use your car, that person’s liability insurance should cover medical bills and property damage should they cause an accident. If the damage exceeds their limits, they may then be personally liable.

You may need to file a claim for the damages to your car, though. Your collision coverage safeguards your vehicle, as we mentioned earlier. Eventually, your insurance company could pursue the other person’s insurance company to foot the costs behind the scenes. In this case, you could get your deductible refunded eventually, too.

What Happens if Someone Else Is Driving My Car and Gets in an Accident Without Insurance?

If the person who you let borrow your car is uninsured, they’ve got no financial protection that can help you in case of an accident. Your carrier will still likely cover the driver, but you may be personally on the hook for any damages that exceed your policy’s limits.

If your uninsured friend caused an accident after borrowing your car without your permission, affected drivers would turn to their insurance first to pay for damages. If your friend is uninsured in this case, the affected parties could then look to your insurance before they file with their own.

If the damage exceeds your policy limits, the injured parties could come after you or your friend personally for medical and property damage bills.

What About an Excluded Driver?

A provider won’t cover damages if an excluded driver crashed your car. It’s not unusual for insurance companies to ask for everyone in the policyholder’s household to be a named insured on a policy. This way, the carrier knows everyone in the house, and they can all get covered. For instance, it would be unfortunate and impractical if your spouse or kids weren’t covered under your insurance policy for your car.

But, you can exclude some drivers from your policy if including this driver raises your rates. This could be someone in your family who has DUIs or a lot of previous accidents. If a person you’ve excluded borrows your car and gets into an accident, your insurer wouldn’t cover the damages if you gave them permission or not.

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The editorial content on Clovered’s website is meant to be informational material and should not be considered legal advice.

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