You may not think twice about letting a trusted friend or family member drive your car if the situation calls for it. However, you’re also probably not thinking “What happens if someone else is driving my car and gets in an accident?”
These situations can cause some confusion with insurance companies and you may be affected, even if you weren’t in the car at the time. Here’s what you need to know about how liability is determined after a collision involving a vehicle that’s owned by someone other than who is driving:
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How Does Insurance Apply When Someone Else Drives Your Car?
Many people believe in a common misconception when their friend or family member is driving their car. They think that insurance applies to the driver. However, this is not the case. Insurance applies to the vehicle. So, if someone who is not on your insurance plan is driving your vehicle, your insurance still applies in the case of a collision.
While this may not seem like a huge deal if there’s a minor accident where no one is injured, the situation can quickly become complicated if the accident is serious. Let’s take a look at the various ways that an accident can occur and how they affect your insurance.
What Are the Different Car Accident Situations That Can Arise?
There are some scenarios where you do not have to worry about your insurance. If your friend is driving your car and gets in an accident, but the other driver was at fault, then the at-fault driver’s insurance will cover the damages and costs.
Your insurance situation can get more serious if your friend was at fault for the wreck. If the accident doesn’t cause any injuries, your insurance will cover the property damages. However, if you don’t have collision coverage, you’ll have to cover damages to your vehicle. You’ll also pay your deductible.
If the accident caused bodily harm, your insurance may be used to cover medical bills after personal injury protection (PIP) coverage has been applied. If the injuries are serious and you owe the victim more money to cover the costs of their injuries, then your friend’s coverage may be added on top of yours to ensure the victim gets the proper amount.
However, your friend may not have any insurance at all. This is a dangerous situation because there isn’t another insurance plan to cover the additional costs once yours is completely used. Since it was your car and therefore your insurance applies, you can be held personally responsible for covering the rest of the costs, which could be financially damaging. Before letting a friend borrow your car, you should know if they have insurance coverage. If they don’t, it’s not a good idea to let them drive your vehicle because of the severe financial issues you could have if they harm someone in a collision.
One issue you may not have expected to have is if someone steals your car and then causes an accident. If it’s a stranger, then you will not be held liable for the other person’s injuries if there are any, but your collision coverage will be used to pay for your car’s damages.
It can be tricky if your friend steals your car because you’ll have to prove that they did not have permission to do so. You’ll have to convince the insurance company. If they believe you, your friend’s insurance will cover the damages. The matter can get complicated if the insurance company does not believe you and you may want to contact a car accident attorney.
How Can You Protect Your Auto Insurance?
As a person with insurance, you want to do everything possible to not raise your premiums or be in a situation where you’re held liable for the accident. The first way to occur to you may be to never let anyone drive your car. While this is an option, there still may come a time where someone is in need of a vehicle and you may be the only one who can and wants to help.
You can take the time to understand your insurance policy. Many people may have one, but not know the finer details including who the plan covers and what will happen in the event of an accident. You can go over your insurance policy with your insurance agent so they can explain it to you and answer your questions.
When you have this conversation, you can gain more insight on your policy’s deductible, its parameters, and you may find that you want to add something to the policy that will give you more peace of mind.
Get Sound Legal Advice
The Chicago car accident lawyers at Thomas Law Offices have helped countless people get the justice they deserve. When someone else drives your car in Illinois and an accident results, you want an expert on your side to make sure you’re not paying more than you need to. We’ll stand up for your rights no matter what. Get in touch with us today.