It’s often assumed that car insurance covers the driver and not the vehicle, but that’s simply not the case. If you let someone else drive your car and they crash, you’ll be the one left to pick up the pieces. By the same token, if you’re driving someone else’s vehicle, you may be covered by their insurance, but it depends on several factors.
Permissive and Non-Permissive Use
If you take someone’s car without their permission, you could be liable for any damage that you cause. This is called “non-permissive” use, and this is where things get complicated.
If a friend takes your car without your permission and hits a tree, guardrail, or another vehicle, they will only be responsible for the damage if they are insured. For uninsured drivers, you could be left to foot the bill, and this is true even if the car was stolen.
The most basic insurance policies only cover you for liability damage split into two parts: bodily injury and property damage. It provides cover when the driver causes harm to another car, house, or person. To be covered for theft, vandalism, and other damage, you need full coverage, which includes collision coverage and comprehensive coverage.
Permissive use occurs when you have been given permission to drive someone’s car. In this case, if you’re involved in another accident, their insurance will cover the costs even if you are insured.
It’s worth noting, however, that some states reduce the coverage when you let someone else drive your car.
When Your Insurance Gets Involved
If you cause an accident that your friend’s insurance can’t cover, your insurance might be tapped for the remainder. For instance, if you cause $100,000 worth of bodily or property damage and your friend has just $50,000 of cover, your insurance may be asked to cover the rest.
Your friend’s insurer may ask your insurer to cover the costs even if they have adequate cover. It all comes down to the insurance company, their terms and conditions, and your state laws.
Summary: Am I Covered on Someone Else’s Car Insurance?
To summarize, if you drive a friend’s car with permission, you are covered by their car insurance and not yours, but depending on the circumstances, your insurance might be tapped to cover some of the costs.
If you take their car without permission, you will be responsible for the damage. You’ll also be charged with grand theft auto and could face several years behind bars, so you’ll have bigger issues to worry about!