There’s a fine line when it comes to friends and favors. Would you ever loan a friend money? Try to get them a job with your employer? Let them borrow your car? As much as we love our friends, we don’t want to make decisions that we will ultimately be uncomfortable with.
If you say yes to the favor and something goes wrong, it can be difficult to know what to do next. If you let a friend borrow your car and they have an accident, you might think that you’re not responsible for any costs and damages, but that’s not always how it works. Here’s what you need to know about letting a friend borrow your car, and how to react if they crash it.
Auto Insurance Covers a Specific Car, Not a Specific Driver
When someone else is driving our car, our auto insurance is still active (assuming they have permission from us and they are legally allowed to drive). If your friend borrows your car for the afternoon, the good news is that your insurance will still protect the car.
Our car insurance typically covers not only a primary driver, but also family members in the same household. Additionally, we can delegate “permissive drivers” who don’t live with us but might occasionally borrow our car.
Don’t Lend Your Car to an Uninsured Friend
Even though our car insurance protects the vehicle regardless of who is driving, it’s not a good idea to lend your car to a friend who doesn’t have their own auto insurance coverage.
If your uninsured friend causes a serious crash that results in a lot of damage, your insurance alone might not be enough to cover the expenses. Your coverage would act as the primary insurance, and your friend’s insurance would cover the excess. If your friend doesn’t have insurance, you will be footing the entire bill.
Fault Still Matters Most
If you lend your car to a friend and they get in an accident, you won’t be held responsible if they didn’t cause the accident. Fault still matters most, even if your friend isn’t the primary insurance holder. The responsibility in this case would go to the other driver who caused the accident, and they would pay for any damages.
Your Rates Will Likely Increase, Even if You Weren’t the Driver
One unfortunate consequence of lending your car to a friend is that if they cause an accident, your rates will likely increase. Anytime you submit a claim to your insurance company, you might see a higher bill. This is because you are often viewed as higher risk after an accident.
Take Extra Measures if the Driver Was Impaired or Uninsured
If an accident happens when a friend is driving your car, it’s important to first contact your insurance provider to confirm your coverage, liability, and deductible based on the situation.
Next, you should make sure that the person driving your car was not impaired at the time of the accident, that they have a valid driver’s license, and that they have their own insurance. If any of those statements are not true, then you might need to consider hiring a lawyer. You are going to be held responsible and you could be sued for damages, so you might need help navigating the situation.
Lastly, talk to your friend about their insurance coverage and responsibilities. Disputes over money can be hard on a friendship, so tread carefully. Ideally, your friend will be accountable for their actions and help you with the financial burden of repairs, liability, and increased insurance bills.
This likely goes without saying, but be cautious about who you allow to drive your vehicle. You should only lend your car to people you know and trust, even just for short trips or errands. Car accidents can happen anywhere, anytime.