If someone decides to let someone else drive their car and causes a car accident, your insurance coverage is bound to cover them. However, they are going to be on the hook for damages that exceed those coverage limits.
Car insurance is there to protect people from financial accountability in case there is a car accident. Injuries are likely possible, and the vehicle may be significantly damaged.
Typically, law enforcement is called when there are injuries and damages.
It is essential to be responsible when letting someone borrow the car. Driving is dangerous, and when an accident happens, someone is bound to be at fault. So it's important to know, who is liable in a car accident? Owner or driver?
Giving anyone permission to drive your car means that they might get into an accident. The owner must make a claim through their car insurance company, which can be an arduous process.
Times When Insurance Might Pay for an Accident Where Someone Else Drove the Car
The insurance is only going to cover an accident that someone else caused in the car if that person was included on the insurance policy already. It is important to give permission to a person before they take the vehicle.
No-fault driver's insurance means that the insurance company can pay on the policy no matter what. Typically, an injury is the result of the accident, and the driver could be liable for legal costs.
Many times, permission is given to the person driving your car, and they were already on the policy from the insurance company. It might be a friend or a loved one, but they have the right to drive your vehicle. The insurance is going to cover that friend and pay if there is a claim.
Permissive use means that the vehicle owner gave permission to another party who should have been responsible enough to be a safe motorist.
Typically, collision coverage pays for damages to the owner's vehicle, while liability coverage covers the motorist who did damage to someone else's vehicle.
However, the damage to others caused by the driver may exceed the policy's limits. If that happens, the motorist may use their own insurance company, and that liability insurance may help to cover those costs. If the car driver doesn't have car insurance, they may have to pay out of pocket for any damages to the other party.
Policy Members (Spouse, Children)
Unless the family member (spouse and children) are excluded from the policy, they're likely included already. Most insurance companies require all the drivers in a household (each family member) to be listed on the policy. Anyone named on that policy gets the same coverage as the primary driver. The insurance company is going to cover those who share the car insurance policy if they cause an accident.
Acts of Theft
If another party steals the vehicle and crashes it, the car owner isn't liable for any personal injury or damages caused. The law is going to be part of everything. Typically, comprehensive coverage is part of the policy, and it covers theft and injuries to other people.
Ultimately, the law is clear, but the insurance company must prove that the car was stolen. It isn't going to pay, but it can go after the thief.
Times When Insurance Doesn't Pay for an Accident Caused By Someone Else
There might be situations where the insurance doesn't cover the damage to the vehicle caused because another party drives your car. These usually have to do with:
If a friend borrows the car without your permission and it can be proven (which is hard), they are liable for any damage caused. However, an insurance claim from the vehicle owner might be needed to cover damages. That can happen if the friend borrowed the vehicle without authorization and doesn't have a car insurance policy.
Insurance may not cover damages to the car owner by another driver of your vehicle if they were excluded from the policy. An excluded driver could be a high-risk party or have little experience, and the owner excluded them intentionally from the car insurance policy because it might raise the rates.
If an excluded driver gets in an accident and the policy holder's vehicle is involved, insurance isn't likely to cover the damages. This is true even if the driver had authorization at that time to go somewhere.
Intoxicated or Unlicensed Driver
The insurance company is not likely to cover damages caused to the car owner if it is lent to a party who gets in an accident while intoxicated or has no driver's license. It is not legal to do either of those things, and the law is quite clear. In fact, the other party may find that the law is after them, and they have serious charges against them, especially if someone dies in a car accident.
When the Teenage Child Causes an Accident with the Family Car
If a teenager has a license, they must be added as an insured name on the insurance policy. That way, they are covered if they drive your car and have an accident. Teenagers are often not responsible, which can raise rates. To legally drive your vehicle, the law says they must have a permit at least. Typically, teen drivers without licensure or a permit are not covered. If they are allowed to drive and get in an accident without any proof, the claim is likely to be denied. That means the owner must pay for damages their child caused.
It is usually possible to put in claims if the child stole the car and crashed it. However, a police report may be required, and the claim may not cover all the damages.
Do Car Insurance Rates Increase After a Car Accident?
In most cases, yes. Insurance rates are bound to go up if there is an accident. Car insurance works similarly when the other party is driving your car, or the owner is behind the wheel. If either party gets into an accident, the driver's insurance policies come into effect, and premiums go up. Ultimately, property damage and medical bills are incurred. Collision coverage may not take care of everything, so the car owner may be subject to pay for those injuries out of pocket per the law.
Most insurance policies cover medical bills for drivers of other vehicles. However, coverage can vary based on the auto insurance policy. Ultimately, the policyholder must pay the deductible before the claim covers anything.
To save more money on car insurance:
Bundle car and home insurance together
Take advantage of various insurance discounts out there (safety while driving, senior citizens, etc.)
Raise the deductible paid before coverage takes effect
Shop for more quotes
On top of that, many policies offer accident forgiveness. This feature can keep rates from rising after an accident. This is often an add-on, but some companies provide it as part of the policy. If the vehicle owner can be accident-free for many years, the rates may not go up as much or at all.
Depending on the policy and location, there could be some reduced coverage based on who drove the vehicle at the time of the accident. It is important to find appropriate coverage options if lending the car out is a necessity.
Should a Lawyer Be Called?
Many people who get into a car accident don't need legal representation. However, if it was severe or a complicated case, a lawyer can be very helpful. They are going to build the case and find out if there is one. From there, they can handle everything, including documentation and more. If these apply to the situation, contact an attorney:
Significant injury to another party
Accident where fault isn't clear
Crash involving others (pedestrian, cyclist, truck, or other cars)
School zone crashes
Work zone or construction zone accidents
Disagreement with a police report
Accidents with uninsured or underinsured drivers
Problems with the insurance company (mixed signals, confusing answers, no contact)
Work missed by the drivers and passengers
What to Do After the Accident
If anyone is injured, 911 should be called immediately. Report it to local law enforcement and have medical assistance at the scene. When possible, gather up what evidence there is or have the party involved do so. Take pictures of damages, intersections, and whatever else is available.
The insurance company is notorious for reducing liabilities where possible and offering lower settlement offers. An experienced attorney can help build the case and ensure that the company does what's right.
When someone else drives your car, they must follow the law and rules of the road. Accidents happen, but if the owner chose to let someone borrow their vehicle and causes an accident, it is important to make sure the insurance company pays if the policy says that.
It is possible to call an attorney and talk about a personal injury lawsuit. In many cases, they can get all the compensation possible and take care of damages, injuries, and everything else for all parties involved. These legal professionals know the law and can help.