If you are behind the wheel of your vehicle and cause an accident, your insurance will, depending on your policy and coverage, cover the cost of repairs for your vehicle as well as other vehicles or property that may have sustained damage. But what if it’s not you behind the wheel of your vehicle? What happens if someone else is driving your car and gets into an accident? Generally, the same rules will apply whether it is a spouse, son/daughter, or friend in the driver’s seat. Let’s run through some of the more common instances you might encounter:
If Your Spouse or Member Of Your Immediate Family Is Driving
Chances are that all of the licensed drivers in your household are on your policy and will be covered while driving your vehicle just as you would be. An exception would be if you deliberately excluded a member of your family from your policy for whatever reason. For example, you might opt to save some money on your premium by excluding a family member with a suspended license or bad driving record.
If Someone Who Isn’t On Your Policy Is Driving With Permission
If you lend your vehicle to a friend, you are making that person a permissive driver. In most cases, permissive drivers are given the same protections as the vehicle’s primary driver. However, you’ll want to refer to your individual policy as far as knowing to what degree (if any) permissive drivers are covered.
If Someone You Know Is Driving Without Permission
This one can be tricky. If a friend or acquaintance “borrows” your vehicle without your knowledge and gets into an accident, that person (assuming they’re insured) is responsible for any damages seeing as you never explicitly granted them permissive driver status. Instances like these are typically deemed “unauthorized use” rather than “theft”. Unless your friend accepts the responsibility in full, it can be hard to prove that your vehicle was taken without your permission . Generally, your collision insurance will cover the cost of the damage in the event you cannot prove that permission was not explicitly granted.
If My Car Is Stolen and the Driver Gets Into An Accident
If a car thief (i.e. someone you do not know) steals your vehicle, you will not be held personally accountable for damages caused and your comprehensive insurance will cover the cost to repair or replace your vehicle. Even if the thief is apprehended and happens to have auto insurance himself, the provider will not issue coverage for damage sustained during their client’s criminal act.
While we hope this list has given you a general idea of what happens when someone other than yourself is behind the wheel of your car, keep in mind that there is a lot of gray area when it comes to deciding who is liable for damages in a given situation. Like any other scenario involving an automobile insurance claim, there are exceptions to…pretty much everything. Your best bet is to talk in detail with your insurance agent about how these and other instances relate to your policy specifically–especially before lending the keys to anyone.