I Had an Accident in My Friend's Car, Now What?

Auto insurance providers tend to sign their policies with the understanding that a lot of people loan their cars out to family and friends. A policy is not immediately invalid because someone else is driving your car. However, there are plenty of good reasons why some people won't let anyone else behind the wheel of their car. If you had an accident in a friend's car, here's what you need to know:

  • If you are not at-fault, the liability insurance of the party who caused the accident pays for the damages, just like it would in any other accident.
  • If you are at fault, car insurance tends to follow the car. This can be a little confusing, since you can cover a rental car under your own car's policy, but when it comes to borrowing a car, you're relying on that owner’s insurance. But in this instance, the owner's insurance will cover most of the costs involved the accident.
  • The lender is knowingly taking responsibility for their friend when loaning the car. This means that their rates often will go up following an at-fault accident, even if it was their friend driving the car.
  • If you are injured driving a friend's car, their liability protection will cover the costs.
  • In instances where the claims exceed the owner's insurance limits, the driver's insurance may be tapped to make up the difference. If the driver is uninsured and unable to cover the costs, litigation against the driver, the car-owner or both may follow.

A lot of trust goes into the act of lending someone a car, and both the driver and lender take on a fair share of risk. Generally, it's a good idea to only borrow or lend a car when all other options have been exhausted. If a trip can be made by bus, carpool or bicycle ride, then it's a good idea to do just that, and only borrow a car as a last resort.