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If you drive your car and cause an accident,car insurancepays at least part of the damage. But what happens if a friend or acquaintance is driving your car and has an accident?
To the surprise of many, your car insurance will cover the damage.
"If you allow another driver to temporarily use your car, your own insurance policy could be held liable for vehicle damage or medical bills," says Carole Walker, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Insurance Association.
And if you're not careful, you could be held personally liable for any damage.
"Remember that your insurance company, and by extension you are personally responsible for covered damages and potential legal liabilities," says Walker.
This means that lending your car to friends can become an expensive favor if they get into a car accident.
What happens if someone has an accident with your car?
In most cases, car insurance follows the car. This means that if someone else is driving and your car causes an accident, your insurance will usually cover the damage as long as it is covered by your policy.
However, there may be times when your insurance coverage does not cover damage. For example, if someone drives your car regularly but didn't list it on the policy, your insurance company may deny the claim.
In this case, you may be held personally liable for any damage. What does "permitted driver" mean?
When you agree to let someone else drive your car, that's called "free use." According to Walker, insurers often offer acceptable use coverage for situations where someone uses your car temporarily.
“This coverage arrangement extends insurance coverage in this situation,” she says.
Typically, if you let someone else drive your car, your insurance will cover damage caused by an accident.
"Policy provisions typically specify how many times the vehicle may be driven, typically up to 12 trips, and include exclusions for residents or immediate family members," says Walker.
However, insurers can have different rules, so it's important that you speak to your insurer to find out exactly what's covered and what's not before allowing someone else to drive your car.
For example, if someone else drives your car regularly, or you're taking a long trip and sharing driving responsibilities with another driver, "you might want to consider adding them to your policy as a designated driver," says Walker.
Another thing is "unauthorized use". If someone, from a friend to a thief, takes your car and uses it without your permission, you and your insurer cannot be held liable for any damage resulting from an accident.
If someone damages your car, who pays?
As long as you give someone permission to drive your car, your insurance company will likely cover damage resulting from an accident in most situations.
Your liability insurance covers damage to another car, person, or someone else's property.
If you have collision insurance, it will pay for damage to your own vehicle if your friend hits it.
However, keep in mind that insurance coverage only goes up to the limits of your coverage. So if your friend has a serious accident that leaves someone seriously injured or even killed, you could be held liable for damages well in excess of your coverage limit.
What if your friend is driving your car and causes an accident with minimal damage to your car?
If you lend your car to a friend and damage it in an accident, your insurance will pay in almost all situations as long as you have collision protection. Even if your friend has their own car insurance, the claim will still be made under the collision portion of their policy.
It also means you are responsible for paying your deductible and there is a chance your insurance premiums will increase.
What happens if your insured friend is driving your car and causes a major accident to other people?
Let's say your friend's accident results in property damage and serious injury to others. In this case, your liability insurance will take effect.
Liability insurance covers damage your friend caused to other people and their property, including the car. It also offers protection if you are sued as a result of the accident.
Liability insurance is mandatory in almost all states, but minimum requirements vary widely. Keep in mind that if you only have the minimum coverage required by your state, it may not provide enough coverage to protect you if your friend causes serious harm.
If the damage exceeds your insurance liability limits, the courts may order your personal property, such as B. your home, to claim damages.
If your liability limits are insufficient to cover all of the damages caused to the other party, your friend's auto policy could be considered secondary coverage.
What happens if someone destroys your car and it's not on your insurance?
Even if someone isn't on your insurance, damage should be covered as long as your policy limits are reasonable and you have the right type of insurance.
Even if someone else is driving the car, your insurance is often the primary form of insurance.
However, things can get complicated when you regularly let someone else drive your car but don't do itAdd them to your policy. In this case, your insurance company may refuse to pay for the damage.
So before you allow someone else to drive your car on a regular basis, talk to your insurance agent to make sure they cover any accidents when that person is driving.
What if your friend is driving your car without your permission and hits it?
You are unlikely to be held liable for damages because your friend borrowed your vehicle without your knowledge. In this case, your friend's insurance will come into play first, if he has one.
when your friend iswithout insurance, you will likely need to use your collision insurance to cover damage to your own vehicle. Your liability insurance may cover damage to third party property.
Keep in mind that insurers will assume that a friend will be allowed to use your car unless there is clear evidence that you have refused permission, e.g. B. When a drunk friend drives without your knowledge or permission.
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Other scenarios affecting your coverage
Now that we've gone through common scenarios with friends, let's look at a few involving other drivers:
- Your car is stolen and then has an accident:If the thief hits someone or something, you are not responsible for damage to other people or their property, but you will likely need to use your comprehensive insurance to cover damage to your car.
- An excluded driver has an accident with his car:An excluded driver is a person, e.g. B. A teenager in your household who is specifically barred from driving your vehicles under your insurance policy. Policyholders often exclude drivers to keep their premiums low. Excluded drivers are not covered even if you give them permission to drive your vehicle. You will be on the hook for any damage.
Will auto insurance rates increase after someone crashes my car?
Normally yes. Your insurance company doesn't care if you're behind the wheel or if a friend is.
"When you rent your vehicle, there's a chance that a collision, motion injury, or insurance claim could affect your insurance premium or even renewal," says Walker.
If you have Accident Forgiveness in your policy, you can opt out without a raise if you meet the program parameters. Accident Waivers can be granted as a benefit for long-term customers with a clean driving history, or as a qualifying one-time payment add-on.
Bottom line: be careful who you let drive your car
"Although it might seem like it's not a big deal to rent a car, you are ultimately responsible for insurance coverage if it causes an accident," says Walker.
If the driver doesn't have a driver's license, it can prevent your insurance company from paying for accidents, and in some states the police can subpoena you.
In addition to all the legal issues, coping with an accident can result in significant costs.
Your car policy follows your vehicle, so claims made by a friend who wrecked your car will be included in your policy and affect your future car insurance rates. Keep this in mind before you hand in your car keys.
"Put simply, be careful who you lend your car to, because you know you're also 'borrowing' your insurance coverage," says Walker. If you're paying higher rates after an accident caused by your friend, it might make senseCompare the best car insurersto see which may be offering a lower price.
Chris Kissell is a Denver-based writer and editor with notable work in the United States. News & World Report, MSN Money, Fox Business, Forbes, Yahoo Finance, Money Talks News and more.
In case you lost
Table of contents
- What happens if someone has an accident with your car?
- If someone damages your car, who pays?
- What happens if someone destroys your car and it's not on your insurance?
- Other scenarios affecting your coverage
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