Does Auto Insurance Cover Friends Driving My Car?

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Automotive News

Andrew Kaufman is an automotive journalist and content manager from Los Angeles, CA. He received his English Degree from Colorado College and has written about a variety of topics throughout his career.

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, Automotive News - November 6, 2013

Some types of car insurance cover third-party drivers, but liability insurance follows the driver, not the car. Find out what car insurance covers.

Driving Friends In A Car

Many motorists understandably ask themselves, "Does my car insurance cover other drivers?", or "Does auto insurance cover the car or the person?" In most of the United States, auto owners are required to carry minimum coverage in order to be able to legally drive, so understanding auto insurance can make the difference between who you allow to drive your car and who you decide should stay in the passenger seat.

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Does My Insurance Cover Another Driver?

Knowing what car insurance will cover and what it will not is especially important when it comes to friends driving your car. There is a wide variety of car insurance available to you, each with its own features. Before you let a friend borrow your car, you should know if your auto insurance coverage applies to them. Go through the definitions of the different types of coverage to get an idea of the protection they offer. Then call your insurance company. They will be able to give you a complete rundown of coverage features.

Liability Coverage
Liability car insurance coverage follows a driver no matter what car they are driving. Most states require at least liability coverage and many states have assistance programs for low income residents who qualify. Liability coverage is what allows a driver to drive a friend's car and still be covered under their own auto insurance policy. If you plan to allow your friends to drive your car, one of the questions you should ask is about what kind and level of insurance coverage they already own. Knowing the answer may prevent problems down the line should they be driving your car and an accident occurs.

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Comprehensive and Collision
Comprehensive and collision auto insurance coverage are specifically linked to the car that is being covered. These policies provide coverage for damage that may occur to a car as a result of an accident or vandalism. Charges for comprehensive and collision coverage are usually higher than liability coverage and they are additional expenses to the policy.

Other Drivers
The question of allowing other drivers to drive your car and whether or not they will be covered by your existing auto insurance is an important one. Unfortunately, there is no blanket yes or no answer, since this is something that varies from policy to policy.

When purchasing auto insurance, you should talk to the agent about who precisely is covered and what happens if you give permission to someone to drive your car and there is an accident. If you have complete coverage, many insurance carriers will cover the driver, but only at the minimum coverage limits. However, there are certainly insurance carriers who will not cover any driver who is not specifically named in the policy.

Another important factor can be where that person resides and if they are related to you. In general, if someone is living in your household and they regularly drive your car, then the insurance carrier expects you to have that person named on the policy. They will need to undergo the same underwriting and qualification process as any other policy holder.

In some cases, if a family member is visiting and has permission from you to drive the car, then the insurance company will cover them if there is an accident, but the coverage may be limited. Additionally, in the future, that person may be specifically excluded from any future inclusion on the policy and your rates may increase as a result of any accidents.

When purchasing auto insurance, carefully review the details on excluded drivers and any limitations on coverage for anyone driving the car who is not specifically named on the policy.

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Someone Else's Car: What Drivers Does Auto Insurance Cover?

In the event that you find yourself in this situation, insurance coverage when driving someone else's car is, in general, the coverage you carry for your own vehicle. Your personal auto insurance coverage will apply in most cases when you drive a vehicle not your own. This includes any uninsured motorist coverage you carry and the medical portions of your policy. Although not always, your property damage coverage might carry over while driving another's car as well. As should be expected, if you drive your own car without insurance, do not expect that you are covered when driving another's car.

When You Are Covered
If you carry auto insurance for your own vehicle, when driving another's car, typically you are covered by your own policy in the event that you get into an accident. Certain factors may be weighed including the reasons for driving a car other than your own, if you had permission or not or if it was a rental or dealership loaner. In each case, the individual circumstances will be investigated, but generally speaking you are covered by your own insurance.

With some policies, provided the car is insured, the insurance will cover any drivers of that car. This is not always the case, though. Some insurers require that all drivers be listed in order to be covered. One detrimental consequence of this involves the car being stolen. In some instances, if the car is stolen and the thief gets into an accident, your insurance won't cover the damages, sticking you with the bill. It only applies if you have given permission for a particular driver to operate your car.

With comprehensive insurance which covers almost everything, it is the car rather than the driver that is covered. This, however, requires many stipulations to be put in place such as who is allowed to drive the car. If you are driving a car with this type of insurance, if you are not listed as a driver--even if you have permission--you may not be covered in an accident.

Under normal circumstances, provided either the car you are driving is insured or you carry insurance for your own vehicle, an accident will be covered. Since insurance follows the car, the insurance covering the car you are driving (with permission) will cover at-fault accidents. If the car has no insurance attached to it but you do, your insurance will most often kick in and cover you. It is a complicated situation, but as long as you have permission to drive another's car and either the car or you have insurance, you will be covered in the event of an accident. The best thing to do, however, is check the exact stipulations of yours or your friend or family member's insurance company.

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Related Questions and Answers

Does my Auto Insurance Cover any Driver?

Most auto insurance polices will cover any legal driver that gets behind the wheel of your car. However it is best not to assume this is the case. Individual policies vary from company to company and person to person. Typically the crux of the issue is if the owner gives another person permission to drive their vehicle. In these instances, nearly every policy will cover another driver. Drivers without permission are almost never covered by insurance policies. Prior to making an important assumption, it is recommended you check with your insurance agent before allowing other drivers behind the wheel of your car.

Does Comprehensive Insurance Cover Other Drivers?

Most of the time, your comprehensive insurance will cover drivers that you allow to operate your vehicle. Your policy may vary, so you should check with your insurance provider prior to allowing anyone else to operate your vehicle. Family members (such as kids or a spouse) are generally already included in your policy. No insurance will cover a driver that operates your car without the owner's permission. Your terms and conditions may vary depending on your provider.

Does my Auto Insurance Cover Other Drivers in Another State?

Generally your vehicle auto insurance will cover a driver from any state as long as he or she has permission to operate the vehicle. However, this isn't always the case. In all instances when someone else operates your car, you should check with your agent prior to allowing others to drive it. Auto coverage and policy may vary (even greatly) depending on your company and the insurance options you have picked. It is always a good idea to review this information ahead of time.

Will my Insurance Cover an Accident with my Car if I Was not There?

In order for your insurance to cover an accident when you are not present, you will need to have comprehensive auto coverage. Assuming this is the case, then the answer is maybe, but probably. The instances in which your car became involved in the accident definitely matter. If the driver is a relative, then most likely your insurance will cover the accident. The driver also needs to have had your permission, otherwise your insurance will most likely deny the claim (unless the vehicle was stolen). Individual insurance companies and policies may vary in regards to these rules, therefore you should always check with your agent prior to allowing anyone to operate your vehicle.

Is a Driver Covered by their Insurance when Driving a New Car Home?

Once you get a car loan and purchase a new car, you can then take it home. Most states require you acquire proof of insurance, or notify your agent, prior to allowing you to take your new vehicle off the car lot. Should the unthinkable happen, your car insurance will cover you in the event of an accident. This is the reason you need to contact your agent and get the paperwork faxed to the dealership. Each auto dealership is required to make sure you are legally operating the vehicle prior to leaving the lot.

What are the Auto Insurance Minimum Requirements for California

Almost every state has an auto insurance minimum requirement. California is one of the states that has minimum insurance requirements. The state requirements of California are as follows. $15,000 for bodily injury liability; this is the maximum amount that will be paid for one person that is injured in an accident. $30,000 Bodily injury; the maximum amount for all the injuries in the accident. Finally, $5,000 for property injury liability per accident. These coverages are liability coverages which pay the medical bills of the accident victims. Your injuries and vehicle are not covered. These minimum requirements would be far from sufficient if you are in a serious accident.

, Automotive News

Andrew Kaufman is an automotive journalist and content manager from Los Angeles, CA. He received his English Degree from Colorado College and has written about a variety of topics throughout his career.

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