If you borrow someone else’s car with their permission, you are covered by their auto insurance policy. If you get into an accident, their liability coverage will pay for damages and injury that you cause
Accidents and claims typically raise car insurance rates, so if you get into an accident while driving your friend’s car, it could result in more expensive premiums for them
If you borrow cars often, rent cars frequently, or if you’re in between cars you should consider buying non-owner car insurance for extra liability protection
There are many reasons you might need to drive someone else’s car — whether it’s an emergency or you just need to run an errand.
It’s a common misconception that car insurance is based on the driver and not the vehicle that is insured. In reality, if you are just borrowing someone else’s car here and there, you’re protected under the insurance policy, because car insurance generally follows the car, not the person.
However, if you borrow someone else’s car frequently, things can get a little more complicated. You might want to consider getting a non-owner policy to protect yourself, or asking to be added to someone else’s policy.
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If you drive someone else’s car with their permission, you are generally covered under their auto insurance policy. When you borrow someone else’s car, in a way you are also borrowing their car insurance, too.
If the owner of the car allows you to drive their vehicle, then you are covered under what is called “permissive use.” Permissive use means that other drivers are covered by the vehicle owner’s car insurance, so their liability coverage will cover any damages or injury you cause to others while driving their vehicle. If the person whose car you are borrowing has collision insurance, their car would be protected from damage that happens to their car, no matter who is at fault.
If you get caught speeding while driving someone else’s car, as long as you have the car owner's permission, the police should accept the car owner’s proof of insurance. That said, a speeding ticket will go on your record, not the car owner’s.
If you are uninsured and get into a car accident while driving someone else’s car, you would be covered by the owner’s auto insurance policy, up to their policy’s limit. Meaning their insurance would cover the damage or any bodily injury that you caused to the other driver and their vehicle.
For example, if you borrow your friend's car to get groceries and get into an accident with another vehicle, they will be able to file a claim with their insurer to cover the damages. That said, accidents and claims can affect car insurance premiums, so you could potentially be costing your friend money, which is why some people are hesitant about allowing others to drive their cars.
There are a few instances when someone else’s car insurance will not cover you while you are driving their car.
One important note, you may not be covered by someone else’s car insurance if you live with them and aren’t already listed on their policy. Many car insurance companies require that every driver in a household be listed on a car insurance policy. If you get into an accident while driving a car that belongs to your spouse or roommate, your claim may be denied because, from the insurance company’s perspective, you should have been listed on their policy already.
Car insurance companies know that people borrow each other’s car, which is why permissive use is built into your car insurance coverage. That said, if you don’t own a car but borrow other people’s frequently, you might want to think about buying non-owner car insurance or consider adding yourself to someone else’s car insurance policy if you frequently borrow their car (adding another driver to a car insurance policy is usually a simple change, and can be worth it if you’re borrowing the same car on a daily basis).
Unlike a standard car insurance policy, which usually contains coverage to protect the policyholder’s car, non-owner car insurance only protects a driver. Non-owner car insurance is generally only liability coverage, meaning it covers bodily injury (BI) and property damage (PD) that other people incur from an accident you caused. However, sometimes insurance companies offer personal injury protection and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage as add-ons to non-owner policies.
There are a few circumstances under which you should consider buying non-owner car insurance.
About the author
Kara McGinley is an Insurance Editor at Policygenius. She previously worked as a freelance writer and a copywriter for various startups. Her work can be found in Teen Vogue, The Culture Crush, Mask Magazine, and more.
Policygenius’ editorial content is not written by an insurance agent. It’s intended for informational purposes and should not be considered legal or financial advice. Consult a professional to learn what financial products are right for you.
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