What Happens When Another Driver has an Accident in Your Car
Accidents happen. You’ve let your friend, roommate, or family member drive your car and you get a phone call informing you there has been a wreck. People often become understandably worried about the insurance and the legality surrounding these accidents.
While it can sometimes be confusing to understand who is covered to drive your vehicle, the general rule is that anyone living in your house is covered when driving your car, unless expressly excluded on the policy. In fact, everyone in the same household is often required to be included on the vehicle’s insurance policy. As for friends or family members who don’t live with you but use your car anyway, typically they will be covered too as long as you have given them permission.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember in these cases is that car insurance follows the car, not the driver. This means that so long you have given permission to a driver who is not excluded from your policy, then that policy of yours will be the primary coverage if an accident occurs. The driver of your vehicle would only act as a secondary (or excess) insurance.
The exception to this is excluded drivers. You may have excluded a driver from your insurance policy, for example, because that person has a poor driving record and it would hurt you financially to have that person covered. If that person is driving your car and gets into a wreck though, your coverage will not pay for the damages incurred from the accident. However, in some states, you may be excluded from damage liability if you can prove you DID NOT give permission.
In addition to being liable if an excluded driver gets into a wreck driving a vehicle, you can be sued if you let an intoxicated/impaired driver operate your vehicle, or if you allow an unlicensed driver to drive your vehicle.
It’s important to remember insurance policies differ though, so you should make sure to understand the terms of your own car insurance coverage.