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UPDATED: Jan 10, 2019
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A common question involving car insurance is this: does car insurance follow the driver or the car?
Read on to learn all of the nitty gritty details for this frequently-asked question.
Car Insurance Follows the Car
First and foremost, your policy covers your cars. Your cars are covered when you get in an accident. You and your passengers are covered if you are injured in your cars.
Others are covered if injured by your cars. Comprehensive and collision insurance covers your car only. Contact your car insurance and make sure that your insurance follows the car.
Car Insurance Can Follow the Driver
The answer to whether car insurance covers the driver or the car is not black and white because there are parts of your car insurance policy that do follow you when you are driving someone else’s car.
When it comes to other members of your family driving the cars you own, it is wise to make sure they are listed on your policy so that full coverage is guaranteed.
While it is your driving record that will have the biggest impact on your premiums, insurance companies also take into account the history and influencing factors of the other drivers in your household.
Not listing your teenager as a driver on your policy might mean he or she will not be covered in the event of an accident.
The implications of driving uninsured can be disastrous for your whole family.
When your car is driven by someone who is not a member of your family and is not listed on your policy, he or she is still covered by your car insurance policy on account of the aforementioned fact that car insurance follows the car.
The term for the non-family member operating your vehicle is, “permissive driver.”
There are some things to keep in mind when allowing another driver to operate your vehicle, including:
- Your insurance covers first – Because you gave permission for this person to drive the car, he is covered primarily by your insurance. His insurance may come into play secondarily if damages exceed your own coverage.
- Liability for excessive costs – If damages exceed your coverage and the driver does NOT have his own insurance, you can be sued for the remainder.
- Risk for increased premiums
These are just a few of the reasons why it is important to be careful when lending out your car.
Allowing an uninsured driver behind the vehicle of your car could be a very dangerous move on your part. In some states, your current policy may not completely cover permissive drivers.
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If you do not give permission for someone to drive your car, damages caused in an accident by that driver are not covered by your policy.
An example would be a thief who steals your car and then gets into an accident. But while damages to other cars or property are not covered, you will likely have to use your collision coverage to repair your own car.
The same holds true if someone you know drives the car without your permission, though it may be harder to prove that they were not allowed to drive your car.
One factor that may work in your favor if your car is used without permission by someone you know – as opposed to being stolen by a stranger – is that you are more likely to be able to recoup damages to the vehicle from that person’s insurance.
If that person does not have insurance, however, you are out of luck. Your only consolation may come from the ticket the driver receives for any wrongdoing since the police will charge the driver, not the car.
Make sure you are familiar with any exclusions to your car insurance policy. Many providers specify situations that will not qualify for coverage.
Examples of exclusion may include:
- Drivers with suspended licenses
- Business-related driving
- Excessive number of passengers
Only a few states do not allow certain drivers to be excluded from your policy, such as Kansas, Michigan, New York, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
By staying true to the specifics of your car insurance policy, you can minimize the risk every time you, a family member, or any other driver gets behind the wheel of your car.
If an excluded driver takes your vehicle for a spin, with or without your permission, your car insurance will probably not cover the accident if one occurs. Though state laws differ, the following generally applies:
- If an excluded driver borrows the car with your permission and an accident happens, both you and the driver will be personally responsible for any damages caused, depending on insurance coverage of the driver.
- If an excluded driver takes off with your wheels without your permission and gets into an accident, depending on your state’s laws, you should not be held liable if an incident occurs.
- If you live in a no-fault state, you may not be responsible for personal injury but you and the excluded driver may still be responsible for personal liability. That is, if the injured party’s insurance limits have already been reached to cover the accident, he or she could take both of you to court to recover any remaining expenses.
Look Before You Lend
It’s always the best decision to check with your insurance company before allowing someone else to drive your vehicle.
Find out exactly what is covered and be prepared for any circumstances that may arise.
Also, remember to verify that the proper documentation is in your car and alert the driver as to where everything is located.
Find the Best Car Insurance Policy for Driver and Car
Using an online quote comparison tool will allow you to find the best car insurance policy for you, your family and the cars you drive.
By detailing the history and experience of your household drivers, as well as the make, model, and year of each car you own, you will be able to analyze personalized car insurance rates from many different providers.