Say you and a friend are hanging at your house, watching a movie.

Midway through the night, the two of you realize you’re missing something important: ice cream. Your friend offers to take your car and drive down to the convenience store to buy some. You appreciate the help and hand over your keys without giving it much thought.

Unfortunately, you might have just made a mistake. Because when you let a person who isn’t on your car insurance policy drive your car, you’re opening yourself up to some risks. In this post, we’ll discuss the different scenarios that arise when a friend or family member gets behind the wheel of your car.

In these situations, an increase in car insurance rates is a possibility. But if you shop with Insurify in the first place, you can compare quotes from multiple companies seamlessly to find the best value for you. That’s why Insurify is a can’t-miss destination for drivers who want a clear, real-time picture of the car insurance landscape.

Letting Other Drivers Use Your Vehicle

When it comes to letting other drivers use your vehicle, there are a few basic rules you should know.

Liability insurance follows the car, not the driver.

If another driver drives your car and causes a car accident, your liability insurance covers the costs of any resulting property damage or injuries to other drivers. That means you—and not the person who drove your car—will pay the deductible. Your auto insurance rates could also go up as a result of the accident.

Your coverage is on the hook up to your coverage limits. If the person driving your car causes a severe accident, your car insurance might not cover the high medical bills. In this case, the driver of your car’s insurance can kick in as secondary insurance to cover these extensive costs.

If you have collision coverage included in your auto insurance policy, that can also cover any damage to your car, even if you weren’t the one driving. And if the driver of your car totals the vehicle, you’ll likely need a rental car. If you have loss of use coverage on your auto insurance policy, the costs of a rental car will be covered, too. 

Personal injury protection follows the driver, not the car.

Personal injury protection (PIP) works a bit differently. PIP follows the driver rather than the car. So if the person driving your vehicle has PIP, the claim will be against their car insurance policy for any injuries they sustain. The same goes for medical payments coverage. 

If this driver does not have PIP included in their policy, you might be on the hook for the medical bills that come with their injuries. Remember, personal injury protection is only required in some states. Reach out to an insurance agent or a representative of your current provider to figure out if personal injury protection is right for you.

Whether or not you gave this person permission to drive your car is important.

If you give a friend permission to drive your car, they are considered a “permissive driver.” The same rules from above apply: your own insurance covers liabilities and collision costs, but your friend’s insurance will cover their personal injuries.

Permissive use can get complicated. In general, car insurance companies will assume the driver of your car had permission unless there is a glaring exception. For instance, if your friend took your car while intoxicated, it’s easier to argue they didn’t have permission and took your car for a drive without your knowledge. Or if your friend has a mixed driving record, it might be easier to prove they took your car without permission.

In some cases, you might want to exclude an irresponsible or inexperienced driver from driving your car. This “excluded driver” has been barred explicitly from your policy, maybe because they have a bad driving record or are risky to insure. In this case, your car insurance company will refuse to cover the costs of an accident they cause.

Anyone who is on your policy is automatically considered a “permissive driver.” This applies to family members who might share a car. Unfortunately, you could both feel the brunt of increased insurance costs even if only one of you causes an accident.

Your car insurance rates will likely go up—even if you weren’t in the car.

In most cases, rates will go up after an accident. It doesn’t matter if you or another driver in your car caused the accident—your car insurance company still had to pay out an insurance claim, which means they consider you more expensive to insure. 

How much your rates go up varies by the car insurance company. With Insurify, you can figure out what your monthly premium will be with a given provider if you have an at-fault accident on your driving record. And you can also use Insurify to search for companies that offer accident forgiveness, which can soften the financial blow in the event of a car accident. 

Speeding tickets and moving violations differ from accidents. 

If a friend or family member borrows your car and gets a speeding ticket or moving violation, that will only affect the driver, not the vehicle owner. So don’t worry: you aren’t on the hook if your friend or family member has a lead foot. 

Remember that laws vary by state.

There are certain situations where handing over the keys to your car could lead to legal troubles. For instance, if the person driving your car doesn’t have a driver’s license, the police could get involved. And your insurance still might be on the hook for any associated legal fees.

Similarly, if the person driving your car gets into a severe accident and your policy limits don’t enable you to cover damages, you might be in trouble with the law. For instance, say your liability insurance isn’t able to cover the medical bills of another driver involved in the accident. In that case, other assets like your house or valuables might be vulnerable. In general, reach out to a law firm to understand your rights and chart a path forward in this unfortunate situation.

What if I borrow someone else’s car? 

Any time you’re behind the wheel, you need to buckle up, take precautions, and practice defensive driving. And if you’re driving a friend or family member’s car, you should be particularly careful. After all, the owner of the vehicle will be on the hook for collision damage and damage to property or other motorists’ injuries (assuming you had permission to drive).

If the extent of the damages exceeds the policy limits of the car owner’s coverage, your own auto policy might need to act as a secondary source of coverage. 

If you have personal injury protection, which is required in some states, your injuries will be covered by your own insurance. If you aren’t insured, the car owner’s PIP can cover you.

As always, laws can vary on a state-by-state basis. Reach out to your insurance agent to make sure you’re aware of the details of your policy in the event of an accident. 

Too Long, Didn’t Read: Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if someone else is driving my car and gets in an accident?

If you give another driver permission to drive your car and they cause a car accident, your liability insurance will cover any property damage and bodily injuries to people in the other car. Any injuries sustained by the person driving your car will be covered by their personal injury protection, assuming they have such coverage.

How do I add more drivers to my car insurance policy?

Most insurance companies make it very easy to add another driver to your car insurance policy. You can simply call up an insurance agent or add a driver through your provider’s website. Keep in mind that you might have to pay higher premiums if there are multiple drivers on your policy.

I’m overpaying for car insurance. Where can I compare car insurance quotes online? 

Car insurance can get expensive. And oftentimes, there’s a cheaper option out there that you might not be taking advantage of. That’s where Insurify comes in handy. With Insurify, you can easily compare quotes from a wide array for car insurance companies—helping you get the right coverage at the right price.

Conclusion: The best way to compare cheap car insurance quotes

As you can see, car insurance can be complicated, especially when other drivers enter the picture. At the end of the day, you want to make sure you’re covered no matter what happens—and don’t have to pay too much in the event of an accident.

That’s why Insurify gives drivers peace of mind. With Insurify, you can easily access free quotes, giving you the ability to understand the car insurance landscape and get the coverage you need at a price point you can afford.

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Updated July 1, 2020

Mark Steinbach is a writer based in Brooklyn, NY. In addition to his years of work as a copywriter, he is also a TV writer with a degree in English from Harvard University. When he isn't writing, he can be found playing tennis or doing crossword puzzles.