When a friend asks to borrow your vehicle while his is in the shop, you might be a bit apprehensive about turning over the keys. Should you be? You take good care of your car — you wash it, take it in for all of its scheduled maintenance, not to mention, you likely paid thousands of dollars for it and the car insurance. Before loaning your car, it is important to understand what the insurance implications of that decision might be.
Due diligence: check if they are licensed
This might sound utterly basic, but first things first: before you loan your vehicle to anyone, make sure that person is a licensed driver, with a valid driver’s license. Also, remember that state laws about auto insurance vary. If friends or family members who are not on your policy borrow your vehicle with any regularity, it is important for you to know what the laws in your state cover. Check your policy to see if it provides coverage for permissive drivers. The definition of a permissive driver can vary from one insurer to the next, but generally speaking it means someone who has permission to drive your car, but is not on your policy as a listed driver. There can be all kinds of exclusions for permissive drivers, such as age restrictions, so make sure to review your policy closely.
It’s also a good idea to find out if your friend has auto insurance, for reasons we’ll get to in the next section. And, your insurance information and vehicle registration should always be in your glove box, but verify it’s there before you hand anyone else your car keys.
Car insurance generally follows the car
If you let your friend Tom borrow your car to run errands, and he causes an accident, your auto insurance will be primarily liable while Tom’s insurance might be tapped to cover anything over and above your policy limits. Tom’s insurance may come into play as secondary coverage, if there are any personal liability issues, medical expenses that arise from the accident, or if the accident claims exceed your coverage limits. This is why it’s important to know if the person borrowing your car has insurance — if that friend is an uninsured motorist, your insurance will be responsible for all claims up to your coverage limits, and then you will be responsible for paying any liability or medical costs that exceed coverage out of your own pocket.
Should I allow my babysitter to drive my car?
Your kids have the summer off, but you don’t, so you’ve decided to hire the neighbor’s college-age daughter to watch them, take them to the pool, and soccer practice. Since the kids’ car seats won’t fit in her car, you’ve decided to let her drive your minivan for the summer. She’s a licensed driver with a spotless record, and she is insured. Is it okay to let her drive your vehicle? In cases like this, it’s a very good idea to speak with your agent. It may make sense to add her to your car’s policy as an additional insured as an occasional driver.
Driving is an activity that so many of us do with such regularity that we might not think twice about handing over our keys, especially to a family member or friend. However, there’s a lot to consider, particularly in the area of liability, so even if it seems like much ado about nothing, take the time to check your policy or call your agent before loaning your vehicle.
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