If you have a friend or member of your family who needs to use a car for a short time because theirs is being fixed or it was stolen, it is natural to lend them your own car or a spare one if you have more than one.
You will probably only start to worry about insurance when they are out of the driveway! The chances are that your car will be returned without your friend or relative damaging it or having an accident, but it’s useful to know who is liable if someone else is driving your car.
The short answer is that as long as you have insurance, most policies should cover any liability if someone else is driving it and has your permission to do so.
The main caveats are that the driver must have a valid driver license, are not doing anything illegal (e.g. driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs) and has your permission to drive the car. If the driver is unlicensed, drunk, or took your car without permission, then the driver is liable.
Can Someone Drive My Car If They Are Not On My Insurance?
There is no definitive answer to this question as there is variation from one policy to another and from one state to another.
If your friend, colleague or relative asks to use, or you offer the use of, your car for any length of time or is likely to use it for any distance it is best to give your insurer a ring and find out whether the extra driver is covered and what they are covered for.
This information may be in the small print of your policy anyway, but it’s still worth enquiring before allowing the use of your car. Also, make sure that the person has a valid license.
Who is Liable if Someone Else is Driving Your Car?
The state determines whether you have to have PIP coverage or not. This covers personal injury to the driver and occupants whoever was to blame. If you are in a “fault” state, the driver who is at fault is liable for any damages.
This means that if you have lent your car to someone else and they are hit by another driver, your PIP insurance should pay for injuries to the occupants in a “no fault” state, but a personal injury claim should be pursued against the other driver in a “fault” state.
Your own insurance should only be needed if there is no chance of compensation from the other driver.
Liability remains with either you or the other driver if that driver was at fault. Much depends on the actual policy, but most policies follow the car, not the driver. This means that in an accident whoever was driving the car, allowing for the caveats mentioned above, should be covered by your own car insurance.
Some policies specifically follow the driver, not the car. In this case, it is the driver’s own insurance that pays damages. If you have this type of policy, then the driver who you allowed to drive the car will be liable to pay damages and should use their own insurance to do this.
This would be similar to the situation if the driver had rented a car and used their own car insurance as part of the liability agreement before renting.
What if the Person Driving Your Car Has Their Own Insurance Policy?
If the person you allowed to drive your car had their own insurance then this could add to any insurance policy you already have in the event of an accident. Generally, the other driver’s own insurance policy will provide secondary cover, while your insurance will remain the primary cover.
For example, say damages come to $120,000, but your insurance cover only has a maximum of $100,000, the driver who you allowed to drive your car could pay the balance from their own insurance.
Remember that if you have to make a claim, not only is there a deductible which you will have to pay out of your own pocket, the claim will affect your next year’s premium. This alone is an incentive to pursue a personal injury claim against any other driver involved in the accident if there is proof that their negligence caused the accident.
What Should You Do After Someone Else Crashes Your Car
The main steps to take if someone else crashes your car are the same as if you had been driving yourself. If there are any injuries, these must be attended to as a priority and emergency services called if necessary.
The police must be informed and their crash report will be a vital part of your insurance claim. The driver must exchange details with the other driver, such as license, registration, insurer, name, address and telephone number.
At the crash scene, if this is possible, anyone who has seen what happened could be a useful eye witness. Contact details should be taken if possible. Photos of the crash site, damage to the vehicles should be taken.
Obviously if you are not present, you will be depending on the driver doing this by themselves, but if you are contacted by phone by the driver at the crash scene, you could remind them to use their cell phone (if they don’t have anything else) to take photos and do what they can to obtain evidence of any negligence if that is what caused the accident.
You will need to contact your own insurance company after the accident giving as many details as possible. The other driver who was involved in the accident may also need to contact their own insurer if their insurance cover is likely to be needed.
Get Help Today
As accidents involving someone else driving your car can become complicated, it is a wise move to contact a personal injury attorney as soon as you can after the accident.
If you believe that the accident was caused by another driver’s negligence, whoever was driving your own car, then a personal injury attorney can provide advice and help obtain compensation. Fill out a free case evaluation to receive the compensation you deserve.