It’s not an uncommon scenario: Your car is at the mechanic’s shop being repaired and your mother-in-law has offered her car to you until yours is road-ready again. Or you’re home from college for a visit and want to meet some friends, but you left your car on campus. In any situation, should you borrow someone else’s car or let someone borrow yours? Would you still be covered if you do? What happens if you or they are 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?
Does Car Insurance Follow the Car or the Driver?
Car vs. Driver Coverage
The answer isn’t so cut-and-dry. 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.
Does My Car Insurance Cover Other Drivers Who Operate My 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.
There are a few scenarios in which certain drivers and activities will generally not be covered by your policy. These include:
In most cases, your insurance will not extend to other drivers if they’re paying to use the car (for example, you’re renting it out to a car-sharing company). You will likely need an additional, specific auto insurance policy to cover this activity.
Excluded drivers (those specifically listed on the policy as not covered) will typically not be covered when driving a car under your auto insurance policy. In some states, excluded drivers may have a minimal amount of coverage, though this (and the exact type of coverage provided) will depend on where you live. You should check with your auto insurance carrier for guidance on this.
If you use your vehicle for commercial purposes, your insurance policy will typically not cover incidents occurring during this type of use. This can include using the vehicle to deliver pizzas, driving for a transportation network company that offers car rides or ride-sharing, or operating some sort of delivery or concierge service. You will likely need a separate insurance policy or supplement to insure these types of activities.
Does My Car Insurance Cover Me When Driving Another Vehicle?
If you’re specifically listed on the car owner’s insurance policy, you’ll be covered when driving that car – even if it’s not your own. If you’re not on the owner’s policy, applicable coverage will again depend on consent.
Assuming the driver gave you consent to operate the vehicle or, at the very least, there is reasonable belief that you had permission to drive it, then you’re probably covered. If you pay to drive the car (for example, you rent it from a rental car company or a car-sharing service), then this generally constitutes assumed permission as well.