In a nutshell, if someone else is driving your car and gets into a car accident, you should be covered. In this article, we’ll discuss how this works, some unfortunate exceptions, and other important points to know. If you have specific questions, contact a car accident attorney who can help.
The most important thing to understand is that it is “car insurance,” not “driver insurance.” This means that your auto insurance policy covers your vehicle, in most cases, regardless of who is driving.. Additionally, if the person who was driving your car has their own auto insurance policy, that policy may provide additional coverage for any damages beyond what is covered by your own policy. So, for instance, if the damage to your car is $28,000, but your policy only covers $25,000, the driver’s policy may help with the uncovered $3,000 worth of damage. The same applies with liability insurance.
Auto insurance companies will allow policyholders the option of excluding certain drivers from their policies. For example, if your spouse has a number of DUIs, you can significantly reduce the cost of your insurance premium by excluding your spouse from the policy. If, however, you allow your spouse to drive your car after being excluded from the policy, and she or he causes an accident, you most definitely are not going to get any help from your insurance carrier. In fact, you may even be penalized by your insurance company.
Your car insurance company can also refuse you coverage if you knowingly allowed a drunk, high, or otherwise impaired driver to drive your car. In any situation where you had knowledge that a driver was “a liability,” and you gave them your keys anyway, don’t expect help from your insurer. This could apply to unlicensed drivers, drivers who require corrective lenses but did not have them on, or drivers who are not in proper health (recovering from surgery and still wearing a cast, etc).
An unauthorized driver, even if it’s your 16-year-old son, has technically stolen your vehicle. How you choose to handle that “grand theft auto” from a personal standpoint may affect what happens insurance-wise. You might consider reaching out to a lawyer before making any decisions. You might prefer to punish your son “in house,” despite the insurance repercussions, rather than sending him to juvenile detention for stealing your car. Learn your rights and responsibilities before making a decision.
Another scenario in which you may be held responsible for another driver crashing your car is if you knew your car had a mechanical defect that could endanger the other driver. For example, if you knew your brakes were going out and you allowed your friend to borrow the car without advising them about it, any crash that happened due to the brakes failing could leave you exposed financially.
If someone other than you wrecked your car in an accident, Malman Law can assist. We can use our experience and knowledge to help you carefully navigate the situation. Contact us today to learn more.