There’s nothing wrong with being selective about who borrows your car. A vehicle is a powerful, expensive machine that kills over a million people every year. Your car is also your property, your responsibility, and, often, your means of access to work, school, food, community, and many other aspects of life. There is certainly risk involved when someone asks you to lend them your vehicle.
What are the risks of someone borrowing your car? We’ll discuss the risk factors below, and how things can become tricky if your vehicle and insurance policy are involved in an accident. If you have further questions, reach out to an attorney with experience handling complicated car accident cases in Chicago.
Risk Factors to Consider Before Someone Borrows Your Car
Is it safe to let someone borrow your car? There are things you should know before letting someone drive your vehicle. Before you agree to lend your car to another driver, take the time to consider what you know about the driver, your vehicle, and the conditions and purpose of the drive.
After someone asks, “Can I borrow your car?” you might want to ask some questions to determine if lending your vehicle is the right decision. For example:
- Do they have a valid, unexpired driver’s license?
- Do you they have experience driving the kind of car you own (especially if it’s a stick shift or large truck or SUV)?
- Do they have a history of car crashes?
- Do you think they are a good driver?
- Are they a new or teenage driver?
- Is there a possibility of criminal behavior?
- What is the condition of your car—is there any risk of mechanical failure?
- Do they plan to use the car for commercial purposes?
- Are they using your car for deliveries with a company like Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, or Postmates?
- Do they have liability insurance?
- Do they plan to take your car on poorly-maintained roads that can damage your vehicle?
- Do you suspect they may drink and drive?
- Will they be using your car to transport children who require a car seat or booster seat?
- Will they be driving in snow or other adverse weather?
- Will they be driving at night and on weekends when crash risks are greater?
The answers to these questions will help you determine if it’s a good idea to let your friend, family member, neighbor, or coworker borrow your car. Whether you let someone borrow your car or not is your decision to make. You are responsible for that person’s safety and the safety of others on the road around them. Remember, it’s okay to say “no,” even without an excuse. You’re not being “nice” or “a good friend” if you agree to a situation that could be dangerous to the borrower or others.
For example, your insurance is most likely not sufficient to cover a vehicle used for commercial purposes, and it’s probably not smart to let a friend who wants to make food deliveries borrow your car. A teenage, uninsured, or unlicensed driver is a higher risk than the general population. Poorly-maintained roads, bad weather, and times with higher accidents rates make driving more dangerous for the person using the car. Never give your keys to someone who is drunk or under the influence of drugs. And it’s advisable to think twice before letting someone with a history of accidents or DUIs take your car for a drive.
On the other hand, you may feel perfectly at ease letting someone use your car temporarily. If someone you know well wants to take your car for the afternoon while theirs is in the shop—and you trust their driving ability and judgment—it may be a good opportunity to help a friend in need. But if you are not comfortable lending your car to someone—but still want to help—consider driving them where they need to go. If you have the time and the availability, it may be the safest decision to drive your own car to take them to run errands, visit the doctor, or go to the airport.
Another thing to consider is traffic violations. You naturally want someone who drives safely and observes the rules of the road to be behind the wheel of your vehicle. But the good news for you is that if your friend is caught speeding or running a red light in your car, the violation and any associated fines will go directly to them, not to you. Your driver’s license record and insurance rates will not be affected by your friend’s poor decisions.
What happens if someone borrows your car and gets in an accident? One of the most important things to remember is that your auto insurance applies to the vehicle, not the driver. If there is an accident, it will be your insurance that applies first, even if someone else was driving your vehicle at the time of the collision. There may be additional costs that the insurance policy of the person who borrowed your car will eventually need to cover, but your insurance will be primary. This means your rates will probably go up when someone else gets into an accident in your car.
The insurance rules vary depending on the circumstances of the crash. For example, if the friend driving your car is involved in an accident caused by another driver, the at-fault driver’s insurance should cover the damages and costs. If your friend caused a minor accident without injuries, your insurance will likely cover the property damages. If the crash caused injury to another driver, 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 medical costs, your friend’s coverage may need to be added to ensure the victim is adequately compensated.
It’s usually not wise to let someone without insurance borrow your vehicle. If your insurance isn’t enough to cover all costs, you can be held personally responsible for covering the remainder of expenses, no matter how steep the price. These situations can quickly become complicated, and your car accident attorney will need to work diligently to determine liability and gather all documents needed to support your car accident claim if your vehicle was in a collision when you were not present.
If you plan to lend your car to someone on a regular basis—for example, if a babysitter plans to pick your kids up from school every day in your car—it’s a good idea to contact your auto insurance agent to add the name to your policy.
What a Car Accident Lawyer Can Do for You
The job of a car accident attorney is never simple. Every auto collision is unique, and it’s the job of the lawyer to make sure that liability is rightly determined, damages are rightly calculated, and injured victims are rightly compensated. As we have seen, what may seem like a straightforward car accident case can become highly intricate, especially in cases in which there are uninsured parties, it is not immediately clear who was at fault, the car owner is not the driver, or even when a passenger may be liable in a car accident.
If you have been involved in a car accident of any kind—no matter how unique the circumstances—we invite you to get in touch with our law firm. A car accident lawyer from Thomas Law Offices is ready to answer your legal questions in the Chicago area.