Does car insurance cover the car or driver?

While there are exceptions, car insurance generally follows the car and not the driver. Allowing another licensed driver to borrow your vehicle is known as "permissive use," which means you give someone, who isn't listed on your car insurance policy, permission to operate your vehicle. If they're involved in an accident, your auto insurance may pay for the damages and injuries, up to your coverage limits. However, if the driver is also insured, their auto insurance could also pay out, depending on their policy and the details of the accident.

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When can someone else drive your car?

Standard auto insurance policies typically cover drivers that you authorize to drive your vehicle. This is referred to as "permissive use" and may cover drivers that aren't listed on your car insurance policy. However, anyone that regularly drives your vehicle should be listed as a driver on your policy.

Depending on your state requirements and your insurer, you may be required to list any drivers that live at your permanent residence, regardless of how often they drive your car. Even if they don't live with you, they should be added to your policy if they regularly drive your vehicle. A driver who lives in your household and isn't listed on your auto policy may be denied coverage if they borrow your vehicle and are involved in an accident.

Family members who live in your household and drive your vehicle, including a teenager or your significant other, should be listed as drivers on your policy. Also make sure to add your roommate to your policy, if they use your vehicle regularly.

If someone borrows your car and gets in an accident, are you liable?

In certain cases, your insurance company may cover the accident. Someone who borrows your vehicle can be covered up to the full extent of your policy's auto insurance coverages. But there are situations when someone borrows your vehicle and your policy may not cover the accident, including:

  • The driver borrowed your car without permission: Known as "non-permissive use," the driver's insurance may be responsible for the damages and injuries resulting from the accident
  • Another driver causes the accident: If the driver of your vehicle isn't found at fault for the accident, the at-fault driver may be responsible for the claim

Pro tip:

Are you uninsured and planning to borrow a car? Consider purchasing a non-owner insurance policy. This type of policy provides liability coverage for bodily injury and property damage, but won't cover damage to the vehicle you drive or any injuries you may suffer in an accident.

What if you let an uninsured driver borrow your car?

Depending on the situation, your auto insurance policy may cover an uninsured driver if they're involved in an accident while operating your vehicle. However, if the uninsured driver is at fault in the accident, they may be liable for the injuries and/or damages they caused beyond the limits of your policy.

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