Car crashes are unplanned, unfortunate incidents that can happen to anyone at any time. However, things can get even more complicated when you weren’t the one driving but instead had a friend behind the wheel. Part of the complications might pertain to who will repay the damages caused by the crash.
When Your Friend Is at Fault
Usually, if someone borrows your car and causes an accident, your insurance will cover them, but they will be responsible for any damage that exceeds your coverage limits. Your insurance company will likely cover damage to your car, damage or injury to another person or vehicle. Still, if the coverage is limited, your friend might have to pay for whatever is not covered. Your friend’s insurance will be considered secondary coverage if your insurance limits have been exhausted.
Auto insurance follows the car, not the driver, so even when you let a friend borrow your car, the insurance is typically responsible for anything that happens to the car or the driver during that time. Your insurance is meant to pay for the friend’s crash, provided your friend is a licensed driver and doesn’t borrow your car regularly; if they do, then they should be listed on your policy.
However, not all policies are alike. Some auto insurance policies exclude other drivers, including your family members (unless your policy specifically lists those drivers), from any form of protection. These are cheap step-down policies, generally sold by substandard carriers. The reason they’re so cheap is that they exclude everyone except the primary driver or offer only limited coverage for other drivers. Make sure that you buy a standard policy from a reputable auto insurer so that you won’t have to worry about being underinsured.
When the Crash Is Not Your Friend’s Fault
In situations where the crash isn’t your friend’s fault, the financial responsibility will rest with the other drivers who caused the accident.
Note that your insurance will cover an accident that someone else caused while driving your car only if that person is already listed on your insurance policy or if you gave them explicit permission to drive. Being a permissive driver ensures that you are covered whether or not the owner of the vehicle is in the car at the time of the accident. Also, as long as your family members or anyone listed in your policy is driving your car at the time of the accident, your insurance will cover it.
When Your Friend Drives Your Car Without Your Permission
If a friend or family member uses your car without your permission, and you are able to prove it, they will be liable for the damage they caused. If your friend drives your car without your permission and doesn’t have a car insurance policy, you can file a claim with your insurance company to cover the cost of any damage they caused.