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Can Someone Else Drive My Car?

Before letting someone borrow your vehicle, or driving someone else’s car, consider these points to help steer clear of any headaches.

Lending your car to a friend or family member, whether it’s for a quick trip to the store or a long-distance move, is a nice gesture. But before you hand over your keys, here are the answers to some questions you may have.  

Does car insurance follow the car or the driver?

If you let someone borrow your car, remember the phrase, “Insurance follows the car.” When someone borrows your car, they’re essentially borrowing your insurance, too, as long as they had your permission to do so. While your insurance would be the primary source of coverage, if your limits were to be exhausted, the driver’s car insurance policy would be responsible for any costs beyond your limits.

However, there are exceptions for any driver borrowing your car. One big factor in whether your coverage will apply or not is if their use of your vehicle was permissive or not. Most auto insurance policies will cover drivers you’ve listed on your policy, or anyone whom you give permission to drive your car.

On the contrary, if someone takes your car without your permission, your auto insurance may not be obligated to pay for damage if an accident were to occur. In this case, the auto insurance of the person who took your car would be the primary coverage. However, if they don’t have insurance, you may still be able to file a claim on your own policy.

Can someone drive my car if they’re not on my insurance?

Most of the time, as long as you gave a driver permission to borrow your car, it’s likely not a problem for them to drive your car, even if they’re not on your car insurance policy. However, here are a few instances in which you wouldn’t want to let someone drive your vehicle: 

  • If they’re an excluded driver on your policy. Your insurance policy may require excluding certain drivers for a variety of reasons. If they’re excluded, coverage won’t be available for them driving your car, so you shouldn’t give them permission to do so.
  • If they’re not a licensed driver. If someone doesn’t have a license, they shouldn’t be driving, and your insurance likely isn’t obligated to pay for damage caused by an unlicensed driver.
  • If you have a Massachusetts auto policy, certain coverages may be excluded if the driver is a household member and isn’t listed on your policy.
  • If the person driving your car plans to use it for a commercial or business purpose. 

If you’re not sure if it would be appropriate for someone who’s not on your insurance to borrow your car, you can always check with your insurance provider.

Will I need to increase my coverage if another driver is going to borrow my car?

When it comes to coverage, you should always carry adequate coverages and limits. So if it’s something as simple as letting a friend run to the store with your car once, there’s not necessarily a need to increase or change your coverage.

In another example, if you let your roommate borrow your car every Wednesday and Thursday to drive to work, you should add them to your policy. This would be considered regular use and not a one-off instance, and there could be consequences in the event of a regular driver who’s not on your policy getting into an accident. This is because there’s a part of the auto policy language that allows an insurer to charge a premium that accurately reflects the different risks of a policy. An additional driver is an additional risk that needs to be reflected in the premium. 

One unique circumstance where you may need special coverage or documentation is if the person borrowing your car were to leave the U.S. If you live near the border of Canada or Mexico and your friend plans on crossing it, be sure to check your policy for any conditions or restrictions on taking the vehicle outside of the U.S. It’s likely that your auto policy doesn’t provide coverage in Mexico. In that case, the driver should obtain coverage at the border. If the driver is crossing into Canada, you’ll want to ask your insurance company for a Canadian ID card before doing so. Remember, when in doubt, contact your insurance company.

What happens if my friend gets into an accident in my car?

If the person you lent your car to is at fault for an accident, here’s how your coverages may apply to the accident: 

  • Liability coverage: This may help pay for injuries to other people involved or damage to other vehicles.
  • Collision coverage: If you carry collision coverage, it may help pay for any damage to your vehicle, subject to your deductible.
  • Medical payments: If the driver of your vehicle is injured, medical payments may help pay for their medical bills.

If the person you lent your car to isn’t at fault for an accident, you may not need to worry about your insurance paying for damage. This is because the insurance of the vehicle at fault would likely pay for your friend’s injuries and repairs to your car.

If you still feel uncomfortable turning over the keys, just offer to drive. You’ll be a good friend, and keep your car and financial future safe.

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Coverage may vary by state and policy.

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