If I drive my friend’s car will my car insurance cover me?

Your insurance coverage will protect you while you're driving a friend's car, but there are exceptions to every rule. Make sure that while you're driving your friend's car insurance will cover you, and that your friend has coverage as well.

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A former insurance producer, Laura understands that education is key when it comes to buying insurance. She has happily dedicated many hours to helping her clients understand how the insurance marketplace works so they can find the best car, home, and life insurance products for their needs.

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP® Joel Ohman

UPDATED: May 4, 2022

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Here's what you need to know...

  • Your friend’s car insurance should cover you when you borrow heir vehicle, but there are always exceptions
  • If you are in a crash when driving a friend’s vehicle and the damage exceeds the limits of their policy, your insurance may kick in to cover the rest
  • If you’re driving a rental car, you will be required to carry full coverage insurance through the rental company or on your personal policy

Driving a friend’s car can be a complicated issue in regards to insurance.

If you are in an accident, coverage for damages will often come from your friend’s insurance company, but there is also a chance that your insurance company will end up paying for the damage. In certain circumstances, coverage may even come from both policies.

Although there are state mandated rules, as well as policy limits set by each individual insurer when it comes to car insurance and who needs it, there are also exceptions.

This article will review car insurance requirements when borrowing or renting a vehicle, and will also discuss certain situations in which these rules may change.

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Whose insurance would be responsible for the primary coverage in the case of an accident?

In most circumstances, the insurance company of the vehicle being driven is responsible for any property damage or bodily injury that may occur from an accident. Normally, car insurance coverage follows the car rather than the driver of the car.

This means that even if you are driving someone else’s car, your insurance company will not be responsible for damage in most cases.

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What if my friend does not have enough coverage?

In some unfortunate instances, the auto insurance coverage that your friend has will not be enough to cover the vehicle and bodily damages.

Your friend may have a basic policy that only meets the minimum liability requirements. Or if the accident is more major, the damage done may exceed the limits on your friend’s insurance policy.

If you have an insurance policy yourself, your car insurance may be able to cover the difference between the limits of your friend’s insurance and the damages done.

Also, if you are at fault for the accident, you may be sued for the damage amount that exceeds the limits. Your insurance policy may be able to help you in this case as well. It’s best to find out what limits you have regarding property damage coverage and bodily injury protection.

What if I don’t have a car or my own car insurance?

If you do not have even a standard auto policy, and you’re sued for excess damages, you may be hurt financially because the money will be expected out of your own pocket. In these circumstances, it may be a smart idea to have a non-owner policy.

Even if you do not own a car, you can purchase a non-owner policy through most insurance companies.

This is liability insurance that can protect you if you are driving someone else’s car or a rental vehicle. This type of insurance tends to be more budget friendly than traditional car insurance.

Purchasing liability insurance through a non-owner policy can also save you money in the long run for when you do purchase a car. Often you can save money on your premium when you can prove you have had liability coverage continuously in the past.

What if my friend does not have car insurance?

If your friend does not have car insurance for their vehicle and you are in an accident, there is a chance that your insurance company will not cover you.

Because of this, you should always check with your friends to determine if they have insurance on the vehicle you want to borrow before you drive it. If not, check with your insurance company to see if you would be covered under your policy if an accident was to occur.

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What happens if I am driving a rental vehicle?

The rules change a bit when you rent a vehicle. Most often, your insurance company will cover you up to your coverage limits when you are driving a rental car. Check with your insurance company to make sure.

If you only have a liability policy with your insurance company, you may be required by the car rental company to purchase collision insurance through them or with your insurance company.

One may be cheaper than the other, so do a bit of research before deciding if you should buy insurance from the rental car company or your own insurance company.

The Bottom Line

If you are planning on driving someone else’s vehicle or a rental car and you’re unsure about whether you will be covered if you’re in an accident, the best thing to do would be to speak with your insurance agent about your auto insurance policy. Make sure you understand what service you have, and what your auto policy will help you with in terms of borrowing a vehicle.

If you need extra coverage but your current insurance carrier doesn’t have what you need, you can search for and compare car insurance rates right now just by entering your ZIP code.

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