Letting a Friend Drive Your Car: What You Need to Know

Whether a family emergency arises or you just want to help out a friend in need, sometimes you have to let friends or family drive your car. If they're not insured under your policy, you might be facing some major expenses in the event of an accident. Before you lend your vehicle, understand what might happen when you let a friend drive your car.

Know Who's Covered

Letting a Friend Drive Your Car: What You Need to Know 

Image via Flickr by State Farm

When it comes to your car insurance, you need to know who's covered. Generally, everyone who lives in your home is covered under a single policy, but that isn't always the case.

Permissive Use

Typically, your insurance company will require you to list and insure everyone living in your home. This is known as an omnibus clause. No matter if you have a large or a small family, this is a convenient way to cover all family members, from everyday drivers to college-aged kids home on a school break.

Non-permissive Use

In addition to your immediate family, friends and other family members might borrow your car on occasion. If you haven't given permission for them to drive your vehicle, however, this is considered non-permissive use.

This type of use can have several implications. If your car is stolen and the driver gets into an accident, you won't be held liable for damages to other cars or property. You may, however, have to rely on your insurance policy to pay for damages to your own vehicle.

If friends or family take your car without your permission and you can prove it, their car insurance policy will cover damage to the fullest extent. As the secondary insurance policy, however, yours might also take a hit.

Keep in mind that proving you've denied permission to drive your car can get tricky. Unless you have it in writing or in an audio recording, you might not be able to make a case for non-permissive use.

Excluded Drivers

If some members of your household don't or can't drive your vehicle, you might have the option to exclude them from your policy. Excluding teenage drivers or family members with poor driving records isn't uncommon, especially if they have independent insurance policies. Also, consider excluding drivers who have multiple accidents on their record or who have a history of DUI offenses. Not only can covering them become costly for you, but it can also put them at greater risk of injuring themselves and those around them.

In most cases, your car insurance policy won't cover excluded drivers in the case of an accident. If you gave them permission to drive your car, however, you'll probably be held liable for damages. This may change from state to state, so be sure to understand how your state treats liability.

Take Precautions

Many drivers mistakenly believe their car insurance will cover them no matter what vehicle they're driving. Since your car insurance policy follows the vehicle, however, the policy applies to whoever drives the vehicle. Unless you've expressly excluded a driver from coverage, your insurance policy serves as the primary one in the event of an accident. While insuring all your family members may get expensive in the short term, it can help you save in the long term, especially when you understand how your insurance company views excluded drivers.

Before anyone who doesn't appear on your policy drives your vehicle, it's in your best interest to make sure they're up for the challenge. Since your liability increases if you let an unlicensed or intoxicated driver take your car, make sure that anyone who gets behind the wheel is both qualified to drive and sober enough to do so.

Don't hesitate to contact your insurance company to make sure you understand your policy's terms and conditions. If you plan to allow a friend or relative regular access to your vehicle, you might consider adding extra drivers to your policy to make sure everyone is covered.

Consider Other Options

Whether you anticipate encountering a liability issue or you simply want to cover all your bases, keep in mind you have other options besides insurance. In fact, Carefree Auto can help you save on damages with an inexpensive discount plan. No matter who damages your vehicle or who's ultimately responsible for the costs, Carefree Auto has you covered. Just subscribe to the plan of your choice, make monthly payments, and you'll save on auto expenses at select autobody shops.

Though Carefree Auto's discount plans don't replace an insurance policy, they do offer a convenient and cost-effective way to supplement an existing policy. They also give you much more flexibility to repair damage or perform maintenance on your own timeline.

Don't let an act of kindness turn into an expensive hassle. Understand what happens when uninsured friends or family drive your car, and know how to protect your investment.