When the car owner is behind the wheel and crashes the vehicle, their insurance can cover the damages.
But what if someone else drives your car and gets in an accident? Are you responsible? Knowing where responsibilities lie in this situation can help you avoid legal issues and insurance battles in the future.
Can someone drive my car and be covered by my insurance?
According to Virginia law, the car owner’s insurance covers accident-related expenses even if someone else is behind the wheel. But only if the person has the owner’s permission to drive. This information is mentioned in Virginia Code § 38.2-2204.
The law requires the insurance policy to cover any person using the vehicle “with expressed or implied consent of the named insured.” In case the person who borrowed your car has their own insurance, that policy would provide coverage on top of your own. That comes in handy when damages exceed your policy’s limits.
Accordingly, an uninsured person driving an insured vehicle is covered by the car owner’s policy. However, the coverage only works if the owner gives his or her permission to the driver.
What happens if the driver goes beyond the permitted area?
What happens if someone drives your car and gets in an accident beyond the permitted driving area?
Let’s say you gave your friend permission to drive your car to work and back. However, they decide to drive to their mother’s house in North Carolina. If your friend gets in an accident when they are beyond the permitted driving area, your insurance may not cover the damages.
Meanwhile, even if the driver has their own insurance, it may not cover them either. Once they are out of the permitted area, the insurance could stop working. That’s why it’s imperative to be clear about the permission limitations. When you give consent, make sure the driver understands when and where they can drive your car.
What happens if someone else is driving my car and gets in an accident, which isn’t their fault?
Virginia, West Virginia, and South Carolina follow the traditional fault-based insurance scheme. When it comes to covering various losses stemming from a car accident, whoever is at fault is responsible.
But will insurance pay if the driver is not on the policy? Let’s say you gave your friend permission to drive your car. He or she got in an accident, which isn’t their fault. In this case, the other driver’s insurance is responsible for covering accident-related damages.
FYI: In “no-fault” car insurance states, the coverage works differently. If you permit another driver to use your car, and an accident occurs, you have to file a claim with your own insurance company. Your policy covers the majority of medical bills, property damages, and other expenses. However, if losses reach a certain threshold, you can make a claim against the at-fault driver.
What if my friend let someone else drive my car?
Now, let’s consider another scenario. You allowed your friend to drive your vehicle. That friend lent it to another friend, who got in an accident. In this case, your auto insurance will still cover accident-related losses and damages.
When you permit someone to drive your vehicle, you automatically allow them to transfer it to others. Your insurance covers losses (medical bills, property damages, etc.) stemming from the accident as long as you give the initial permission.
What happens if the friend’s friend drives beyond the permitted area? Then the coverage may not work. It’s up to the owner to explain such limitations to the driver in detail.
FYI: Eight states allow insurers to reduce coverage levels if the driver isn’t on the policy. They are California, Colorado, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Washington.
What happens if a friend wrecked my car and didn’t have insurance?
While your insurance covers accident-related damages, it has limits. In case your friend wrecked the vehicle and caused extensive damages, your insurance may not be able to cover all of them.
Once your collision insurance limit is up, the friend’s auto insurance can step in. For example, the total damage to your vehicle is $20,000. Your insurance limit is only $10,000 while your friend’s limit is $25,000. Your insurance pays $10,000. The remaining $10,000 is covered by your friend’s policy. Your auto insurance company could cover the entire amount and then seek reimbursement from your friend’s company.
However, if your friend doesn’t have auto insurance, you are in a tough situation. The remaining $10,000 will become your responsibility. That’s why it’s imperative to be careful about lending your car to an uninsured driver.
A friend borrowed my car and doesn’t have a license. What happens if they get in an accident?
It’s important to understand that driving without a license doesn’t automatically make an accident at your friend’s fault. If another driver is responsible for the accident, his or her insurance should cover it.
In the event your unlicensed friend causes an accident, your auto insurance can still cover the damages. Unfortunately, an unlicensed driver is unlikely to have auto insurance. So if damages are formidable, you may be stuck covering whatever your insurance can’t handle.
If your friend doesn’t have a driver’s license, your insurance still works. However, it’s illegal to permit a person to drive your vehicle without a license.
According to Virginia Code § 46.2-301.1(E), allowing an unlicensed driver to use your vehicle is a misdemeanor. You could be facing up to 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine. To avoid punishment, you would need to prove that you didn’t know that the person was unlicensed.
FYI: Penalties for allowing an unlicensed person to drive your vehicle vary from state to state. In some states, you could also get your own license suspended.
What happens if a friend driving my car left the scene of an accident?
The law requires the driver to stay on the scene of the accident. In Virginia and West Virginia, fleeing the scene of an accident can be either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances.
If your friend leaves the scene, your insurance can still cover the damages, according to the liability limits. You aren’t going to be held responsible for your friend’s criminal actions.
Can someone drive your car if they are not on your insurance without rates going up?
If someone drives your car without being on your auto insurance, your rates stay the same. As soon as they get in an accident, the situation can change.
Let’s say you gave your car to a friend. They caused an accident. Your insurance still has to cover medical bills, property damages, and other losses. It doesn’t care who is behind the wheel if it has to pay out a claim. So rates go up.
If the accident isn’t your friend’s fault, the insurance company can’t raise the rates. However, when it finds out that you are lending the vehicle to other people, it could simply refuse to continue the collaboration regardless of who is at a fault.
Knowing the law is vital to making important decisions about lending your vehicle. Unfortunately, not all car owners and drivers understand the importance of their responsibilities. If you’ve been injured by an uninsured or unlicensed driver, give us a call. At Joel Bieber Law Firm, we can protect your rights.
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