It’s something we’ve all been guilty of: Your friend or family member calls you for a simple favor – they only need to borrow the car for just a bit to run a quick errand and they’ll have it back in no time. You happily allow them to drive your vehicle without a second thought, only to later find out that they were involved in a fender bender and you are being held liable. Most people find comfort in allowing their loved ones to borrow their vehicle here and there, according to the false belief that “the insurance follows the driver” instead of the car. Quite the opposite is true, according to the car accident lawyers at Ellis Injury Law, even if you weren’t in the vehicle, you could still be held responsible for charges incurred from a collision.
Determining Coverage for a Collision
Before progressing in your insurance claim concerning any incidents that occurred under your friend’s operation of your vehicle, you must review the details of your policy. In some cases, the individual does not have to be explicitly named on your policy for coverage to take effect. Both your auto insurance policy and your friend’s insurance may have provisions and exclusions that specify the criteria that determine when the car and/or driver is covered.
Such information will also be influenced by the state of the vehicle’s registration. For this reason, it is not necessarily accurate to say that lending your car to an individual who is not named on your insurance is always bad, however, it is best to avoid it given the abundance of caveats. Here are some examples of when your policy may or may not apply to your loved one borrowing your vehicle:
Collision and Comprehensive Damage. You must also keep in mind that all coverage related to collision and comprehensive damage is tied to the vehicle. As long as your friend had explicit permission from you to drive your car, your insurance will likely cover repair costs. (Family members are generally assumed to have been permitted by the owner to operate the vehicle, regardless of whether they have been named on the policy or not.)
Liability Coverage. This is an instance in which the idea that “the insurance follows the driver” is true. As long as your friend has a reliable liability insurance policy, any eligible vehicles that are operated by them will be covered. Still, keep in mind that this coverage is subject to exclusions in their policy.
What to Do if Your Vehicle was Involved in an Accident Under Someone Else’s Operation
If neither you nor your loved one has adequate coverage for any accidents that may have occurred while your vehicle was in their care, you should hire a car accident lawyer to prevent escalation of the situation. If you are held responsible for providing compensation to the victims, you have the option of filing a lawsuit against your friend or family member to recover those funds. However, this is not ideal and can introduce extreme conflict where it could be avoided. An experienced car accident lawyer will explain to you all available options and ensure that all individuals are insured and compensated appropriately.