Someone Borrowed My Car and Was in an Accident
Most people will let a friend, family member, roommate, or even an employee borrow their car. They may be good drivers, but what if they get into an accident? Are you liable?
Unfortunately, the answer to this is not a simple yes or no. Most insurance policies follow the motor vehicle, not the driver. According to DMV.ORG, when a family member or friend borrows your car, “your car insurance is the primary coverage that would apply if a crash occurred. The driver's insurance would act as secondary (or excess) insurance.” While there is nothing wrong with lending your car, it is important to know that you may be held liable for damages if they get into an accident.
There are many determining factors that play into who is liable and who would pay the costs associated with the accident:
Fault- If the person driving your car isn't found at fault for the accident, then the driver of the other car would most likely will be responsible for paying for any damages.
Insurance Limits- If the driver had your permission to use your car, typically your insurance will be the primary coverage. If the damages caused by the motor vehicle accident exceed the limits on your insurance policy, the insurance of the person borrowing your car will serve as secondary coverage.
Permission- Whether the driver of your car had permission to use your car could be a determining factor. For example, if a stranger steals your car and has an accident, you typically would not be held liable for damage to the property of others.
Lending your car to a reckless driver- If you willingly and knowingly lend your car out to someone who is intoxicated, reckless, or unlicensed, you may be held liable for personal damages.
Excluded Drivers – If you have chosen to exclude a driver on your insurance policy, your coverage will not pay for damage caused by that person if they borrow your vehicle and are in an accident.
Be Familiar with your Insurance Policy
Before lending your car out to someone, familiarize yourself with everything you can about your insurance's policies and know what is covered and what is not.
What you need to do if someone borrows your car and is in an accident
- Make sure a report is filed with the police- Make sure a report has been filed with the police. The accident report will be crucial when filing a claim with your insurance, especially if there are injuries or damaged vehicles.
- Contact Your Insurance Company- You should contact your insurance company to determine who and what is covered when your vehicle has been involved in an accident where you are not the driver.