Picture this: Your friend’s car is at the garage being repaired. They ask if they can borrow yours for a few hours to run errands. You agree and watch them pull away with your beloved car. You are not sure if you have made a wise decision.
As luck would have it, your friend gets in an accident while driving your car. What happens next? Will your auto insurance policy cover the cost of repair or replacement if you are found liable for the damage caused by your friend during this incident?
This brings us to one of the most common questions we receive from our readers: What happens if I let someone borrow my car and they get into an accident? Read on to find out everything you need to know.
Understanding How Your Primary Auto Insurance Coverage Works
Before we answer the question as to what happens if someone borrows your car and gets in an accident, it is crucial to understand how your primary auto insurance coverage works. This is because your auto insurance will be your first stop in your bid to cover the cost of damage caused.
Typically, your auto insurance policy provides liability protection for damages caused when you are involved in a car accident while driving your vehicle. The extent depends on the type of coverage you have purchased.
If your friend who was driving your car at the time of the accident has an auto insurance policy, it will act as a secondary policy. This means that it will only come into play if the damage caused exceeds the policy limits of your insurance.
However, if your friend doesn’t have auto insurance coverage and is excluded from your policy, what happens will mostly depend on whether you gave them permission to drive your car.
Proving that you permitted them to drive your car may be difficult. Therefore, it may be challenging to access coverage for the accident under your auto insurance policy.
In that case, you may have to cover all damage costs and any resulting legal costs from the accident.
This is why it is crucial that you do not let random people borrow your car without thinking through the possible consequences first.
What Happens If I Let Someone Borrow My Car and They Get in an Accident?
If you let someone borrow your car and get involved in an accident, you will be fully responsible for damage and injuries caused.
With the car and the car insurance attached to it, you silently agree to bear the consequences of your friend’s actions once you pass over the car keys to them.
Think of it this way: You own a lovely pet dog and request your neighbor to take it for a walk as you run some errands. And while on the walk, your dog bites someone. In that situation, you are legally liable for the bite as your pet is an extension of yourself.
The same logic applies when it comes to who is responsible for damages caused by someone else driving your car. If they cause an accident and damage property or injure another person, it will be up to you to cover the costs as the car owner.
But it doesn’t mean your friend is completely let off the hook. They can still be found liable.
However, the Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine dictates that you take primary responsibility in the event of an accident in which your car is involved.
The Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine
Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine (DID) is a legal concept that states that as a vehicle owner, you are liable for any damage or injuries caused by someone else driving your car with your permission.
This is because you own the vehicle and control who drives it at what time. It means that in case of an accident, you will be held responsible whether or not you were present at the time of the incident.
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The DID principle is intended to protect the injured person because the car owner will be in a position to use their insurance coverage to pay for the damages and injuries. It ensures the car accident victim gets the rightful compensation they deserve.
A solid understanding of your insurance and carrying appropriate coverage can make the process easier. Before letting someone else drive your car, ensure you fully understand what to expect if they are involved in an accident.
What Happens If the Other Driver Was At-fault?
If the other driver was at-fault in the accident, they would be held responsible for damage and injuries caused.
However, if they don’t have insurance coverage or are underinsured, you must turn to your auto insurance policy compensation.
Your auto insurance company will pay for the damage caused by your friend driving your car. Unfortunately, they may charge you an additional fee (deductible) to cover the cost of repair or replacement.
What If My Car Was Stolen, and Got into an Accident?
If your car was truly stolen and you can prove it, you should have no liability when it is involved in a car accident. Therefore, you will not be held responsible for damages or injuries caused.
However, it is important to note that your auto insurance policy may have certain limits regarding coverage when it comes to a stolen car.
It is advisable to read through your auto insurance coverage and understand how much protection they offer in such situations.
The best way to avoid such a situation is to use an anti-theft device on your vehicle and never leave your keys where someone can easily find them.
If your car was stolen by a friend who had permission to drive it before, the line may get blurred.
Your insurance company may argue that everything adds to implied permission and may refuse to cover injuries and damages caused.
Will This Increase My Auto Insurance Rates?
Most likely. If your insurance provider pays a claim for the accident, you can always expect higher premiums.
In some cases where there is no way to prove that you permitted them to drive your car, it may be possible to avoid a rate hike.
You can talk to your auto insurance agent about what might happen and how best to protect your insurance rates.
It is important to remember that letting someone drive your car is not a decision to be taken lightly. Make sure you fully understand the implications of doing so before handing over the keys.
Consider whether or not they have their own auto insurance policy and how it will affect yours if an accident occurs. And always make sure you carry enough coverage to protect yourself.
If the unfortunate happens, you will need an experienced car accident attorney to help you through the legal process. This way, you can ensure that you get full compensation for any damage and injuries caused if the other driver was at fault.
At Legal Giant, we connect you with highly experienced auto accident lawyers who understand the Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine and can help you make sense of your legal situation.
Contact us today to get connected with an experienced car accident attorney.