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Auto insurance follow the car or the person?

What happens if someone drives your car and they get in an accident?

Contrary to popular belief, Auto Insurance typically follows the car — not the driver. If you let someone else drive your car and they get in an accident, your insurance company would likely be responsible for paying the claim, depending on the coverages in your policy. The claim would go on your insurance record and could affect your auto insurance rate in the future.

A number of factors may come into play, though, when determining whose car insurance applies if someone else drives your car and gets in an accident.

As a driver, there are times when you may find yourself in a position of driving someone else’s vehicle or lending your vehicle to someone temporarily. Regardless of the scenario, there are some things you need to know. Are you (and your vehicle) protected in case of an accident? Does your insurance follow the car or the driver?

The answer isn’t so cut-and-dry. Auto Insurance coverage varies from insurer to insurer and policy to policy, but generally, there are coverages that can follow you or your car. There are several factors that determine whether and to what extent a person or vehicle is covered, including the names listed on the insurance policy, the state where you live and whether you have the permission to drive someone else’s vehicle.

Your car insurance typically will cover other drivers operating your vehicle if they’re listed on the policy. This may include your spouse or significant other, your parents, your siblings or your children. It also may include other household members.

For others not listed on your policy – like friends or extended family members – the issue becomes murkier. Whether the policy provides coverage in these situations typically depends on consent. If other people drive your car with your permission (meaning you’ve verbally told them they could drive your vehicle, or you handed them the keys), then typically they should be covered under the terms of your policy.

Drivers who are not on your policy might also be covered in the following situations:

  • When extended family members visit you or stay with you at your home.
  • When sharing the driving responsibility on a road trip or a long drive.
  • When friends and family members borrow your car when theirs is being repaired.

Permissive use

Most Auto insurance policies will cover drivers you’ve listed on the policy, or anyone whom you give permission to drive your car, This means your insurance will likely cover another driver in the event of an accident, as long as they had your permission to drive your vehicle. Remember though, some states may provide reduced coverage when other people drive your vehicle.

Non-permissive use

If a friend or family member takes your car without your consent, you may not be held accountable for damage if an accident occurs. For example, if a friend borrows your car without your permission and causes an accident, your friend’s insurance may be considered primary coverage. However, if your friend doesn’t have insurance, you may still have to file a claim with your own insurance company to help cover the accident. Or, if a thief takes your car for a joyride and crashes into another vehicle, you likely won’t be liable for damage and repairs to the other vehicle. But, you may have to file a claim with your insurer to cover your vehicle’s repairs.

Be sure to read your policy’s terms and conditions, or talk to your agent, so you understand what’s covered in your state. You may also want to talk to your agent about whether you can exclude drivers from your policy.



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