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On The Road

Does My Car Insurance Cover Other Drivers?

You may have hopped behind the wheel of a friend’s vehicle without much thought, and though it may not seem like a big deal to drive a vehicle that isn’t yours, there are a few things you should be mindful of before gettin’ into gear.

We’re here to clear up the question about whether or not your car insurance covers other drivers, so you can hit the road with confidence knowing you’re properly protecting yourself — and the person driving your car — from the unexpected.

  1. In most cases, auto insurance follows the car rather than the driver — but the specifics of a claim can vary, from one accident to the next. This is because insurance laws and coverage can shift, depending on the policy and the insurance company covering the car.

    Coverage requirements can be state-mandated too, so the party deemed responsible for an accident can change depending on what state you're in.

  2. Usually, yes — your car insurance coverage should extend to anyone else driving your car.

    Think of it this way: the car insurance typically follows the car, not the driver. So if you lend your car to your best friend, your sister or even your second cousin, your insurance is most often the insurance that will pay in the event of an accident. This means even if your friend, sister or cousin have the best coverage possible, it would usually be your auto insurance that’d be covering the damages if they were at-fault in an accident while driving your vehicle.

  3. Usually, the owner of the vehicle is a “named insured” on the auto policy. But if another person — other than the owner — is willing to pay for auto coverage for your car, most insurance companies will allow it.

  4. How insurance comes into play after an accident when someone else drives your car depends on your specific car insurance coverage, so be sure to check with your insurance agent to find out how your policy covers other drivers.

    Take a look at the following scenarios to get a clearer idea of how your insurance coverage is affected if someone gets into an accident when driving your car. My friend got into an accident with my car and we’re both insured. Whose insurance should cover the accident?

    If you gave your friend permission to drive your car, your car insurance would typically be deemed the primary coverage. However, since they also have car insurance, their insurance would probably be considered secondary coverage. This means, if they were to cause an accident in your vehicle, it would most likely be you who files a claim, pays your deductible, and yes, potentially faces the wrath of increased rates. It doesn’t really seem fair for you to suffer the consequences if you didn’t cause the accident, so before letting someone jump in the driver’s seat of your ride, make it clear whether they’ll be helping pay some or all of the deductible if they cause an accident.

    Also, it doesn’t matter whether your friend has insurance or not — they could be responsible for any personal liability or medical expenses, and if they do have insurance, their coverage may step in if the limits of your policy have been reached.

    Learn what to do if you total your car (or if your friend totals your car).

  5. Let’s say you let your sister take your car to pick up pizza you ordered. You get a frantic call from her telling you that she got into an accident, but fortunately it wasn’t her fault. In this case, it normally wouldn’t be yours or her insurance that takes the hit — it’s the at-fault driver who would pay for any damages (given you don’t live in a state with no-fault insurance). You’ll file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company and your insurance shouldn’t be affected. Just make sure your sister knows to get all of their insurance info before taking off — follow these tips if you get in a car accident.

  6. Say your cousin Sally came to town and wanted to take your ride for a spin. Uh oh! She caused an accident and unfortunately Sally doesn’t have insurance of her own. Since you granted her permission to drive your vehicle (albeit, not aware she didn’t have car insurance), you could be held liable for some of the damages she caused. If the damages exceed your car insurance limits, the affected party/parties could sue you and your cousin Sally to pay for any medical fees or property damage which may have to be paid out of pocket or from a wage garnishment.

    So, keep in mind, if you let someone who doesn’t have insurance drive your vehicle, it could be you who is also on the chopping block and paying for damages if they were to get into an accident.

  7. If they’re living at home, you should be sure to include them as a driver on your policy because if they are not, and they get into an accident, you run the risk of them not being covered.

    Your agent can add your teen driver to your existing policy so you won’t have to worry about whether your teen is covered or not. Even though insurance follows the car, household members who are regular drivers should always be listed on the policy to ensure optimal coverage.

    If you have the MyAmFam app, you can easily add or remove a driver from your policy to ensure your teen is covered under your insurance. Download the MyAmFam app today.

  8. Similar to the scenarios above, if you drive your friend’s car and get into an accident that was your fault, it most likely will be their auto insurance coverage that will be affected. Remember, even if you have better insurance than them, the insurance usually follows the car. So they’ll probably file the claim, pay the deductible and face the potential higher rates. Again, make sure you both are on the same page as far as who will pay the deductible if you get into an accident while driving their vehicle.

  9. Typically, the ticket follows the person, not the car. So if your buddy was driving your vehicle, saw the berries and cherries, and received a hefty speeding ticket, it would be recorded on his driver’s record and your car insurance shouldn’t be affected.

    However, if a driver who is listed on your policy gets a speeding ticket (let’s say your tenacious teen), it unfortunately could cause your insurance premium to rise. Learn more about how much insurance rates go up after an accident.

    Share these tips for teen drivers with your newly liberated, bright-eyed motorist to keep them safe and focused on the road — and hopefully help them avoid speeding tickets.

Keep These Tips in Mind Before Lending Your Car

If you plan on letting someone else drive your car, consider the following:

  • Make sure you’re both on the same page. Sure, your friend should be covered by your insurance if they’re in an accident, but will they help pay for any additional costs or deductibles?
  • Contact your agent or take a look at your policy to make sure you understand the details and the state specific laws of your insurance.
  • Whether uninsured, underinsured or an insured driver, if someone is an accident while driving your vehicle, you could be put in a bad situation, so be guarded about letting other people drive your vehicle.
  • Don’t let just anyone drive your car. Make sure they are a trustworthy driver and have a good driving record.

Confirm Your Insurance Before Letting Someone Drive Your Car

Remember, all of this being said, different insurance companies may have different limitations, so it’s best to check-in with your insurance agent before letting someone else drive your car. That way you know what you may be facing if they were to get into an accident.

You can also check out our auto insurance coverages to ensure you're protected from the unexpected.

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Related Topics: Car Insurance , On The Road , Teen Drivers , Safe Driving