Your babysitter uses your car to drive your kids to the swimming pool. Your brother-in-law borrows your car for the weekend. You’ve given them your permission—but what happens if there’s an accident when someone else is behind the wheel of your car?
“Generally it’s not a problem if they’re driving with your consent,” says Jeanne Salvatore, senior vice president of Public Affairs and consumer spokesperson for the Insurance Information Institute. “If it’s an occasional use—say I borrow your car to go pick up milk—and as long as permission has been verbally granted, you’ll typically be covered.”
But borrowing a car under other circumstances, such as in these examples, may not be as clear-cut. (Coverage will depend on your insurer and your particular policy.)
If someone drives your vehicle to perform a job, such as making deliveries or hauling materials, and has an accident, that claim may not be covered because the car was being used for business.
If your adult child doesn’t live with you anymore and you’ve lent him or her your car as a primary transportation, you may not be fully covered if your child hasn’t been named the primary driver on your policy.
Typically, even if the person driving your car has his or her own insurance, your insurance will likely pay damages first if there’s an accident. The driver’s insurance may cover some of the personal injury or medical expenses, and it may supplement your plan if the accident maxes out your coverage.
“When you have someone you employ, such as a nanny or a nurse who will be a regular driver, contact your insurance agent about your coverage,” Salvatore recommends. “He or she may need to be added to your policy.”
Because the policy terms and state laws can vary widely, always contact your insurance agent before loaning out your car—or any other motor vehicle, such as a motorcycle, boat, jet ski, snowmobile, ATV or RV.
“Any time you have a question about your coverage, call your insurance agent first,” says Salvatore. “You always want to let the insurance company know the circumstances. Get their advice.”
“Don’t be cavalier about lending your car,” adds Salvatore. “If you know someone isn’t a good driver, think twice about giving your permission. Any accident they’re in could go on your insurance record.”