Learn the Rules of the Road When it Comes to Lending Your Vehicle
Nobody likes causing damage to their vehicle, but what can be even more stressful is when your friend or family member causes damage to your vehicle. Wrecking your own car is (sometimes literally) a pain in the neck, but at least with your own vehicle, the steps are pretty straightforward. When your friend or family member wrecks your vehicle, it can be a bit confusing to know the best plan of action.
Every insurance policy is a bit different when it comes to its rules surrounding borrowing vehicles, but most insurance plans will still cover your vehicle if the person you allowed to drive your car causes damage. Before you let someone borrow your car, you should know that car insurance policies follow the vehicle, not the driver.
Therefore, if you let a friend, family member, or babysitter borrow your vehicle, your insurance takes primary coverage. This means that your insurance policy will be responsible for covering any damages to your car, damages to the other car if there was another vehicle involved, as well as any injuries sustained during the accident.
If you purchased your insurance plan with your own driving habits in mind, you will need to reconcile the fact that your friend might not have those same habits before you let them borrow your car and make your decision accordingly. Nobody wants to be the bad guy and make a situation inconvenient for a friend, but you don’t want to end up with a more expensive insurance policy either.
What Happens if an Excluded Driver Gets in an Accident?
Even though it is the most likely scenario that your insurance will cover the costs when someone else damages your car, there are some exceptions. For example, if the damages were sustained by an excluded driver, it is highly unlikely that your insurance will cover them.
When we refer to an excluded driver, we mean a driver whom you have asked your auto insurance company not to cover. This is someone who has been removed from your policy, cannot drive your vehicle, and will not receive coverage from your insurer. People usually choose to exclude a driver to prevent being liable for an individual with multiple vehicle citations, multiple at-fault accidents, a suspended license, DWI convictions, impaired mental capacity, and other issues of that nature.
If an excluded driver or someone who did not have permission to borrow your car does so and wrecks it, that creates an entirely different situation. In this case, they would be liable for the damage. The only problem with this is that it can be difficult to prove to an insurance provider that the use of the vehicle was non-permissive. Listing someone of concern as an excluded driver is a great step to take, but if that person has damaged your car before you got the chance to do so, you might need some legal assistance proving that the use of your car was unauthorized.
If someone borrows your car without permission and causes damage, they are liable for the damage. If you need legal help proving a non-permissive use of your vehicle to an insurance provider, call The Law Office of Brian C. Andritch at (559) 484-2112 or contact us online.
What if Someone Is Driving Your Car and Gets in an Accident Where the Other Driver is at Fault?
If someone is driving your car and gets in an accident where the other driver is at fault, the at-fault driver’s insurance would be responsible for the damages to your car and any injuries that might have been sustained during the accident. If your friend gets a traffic violation as a result of the accident or receives a traffic violation in general, the traffic violation would follow that driver rather than your vehicle. This means their rates would still be liable to increase even though they were not driving their own vehicle.
If this person drives your vehicle frequently, it might be worth considering adding them to your policy. This step is probably not necessary for a friend who borrows your car a few times a year, but it might be helpful if you have someone who frequently borrows it. For example, if you have a babysitter or chauffeur who is responsible for driving your children and uses your car to do so, adding them to your policy would provide an additional layer of protection.
What Are the Consequences of not Carrying the Required Insurance Policies?
Under California Vehicle Code Section 16029, it is illegal to drive a vehicle without evidence of financial responsibility. This is usually referred to as driving without insurance because acceptable forms of financial responsibility point to auto insurance. If someone is pulled over and is found to not have insurance, they will typically be fined between $100-$250 for their first offense, as well as penalty assessments. It is also a possibility that the court could impound the vehicle.
If that person is caught for the second time without insurance, their license could be suspended for up to four years. During the last three years of that suspension, their privileges can be reinstated if they provide an SR-22 and maintain it. SR-22 is a form of insurance that allows an individual to maintain or reinstate their driving privileges after serious or repeated offenses.
Because insurance policies follow the vehicle and not the driver, if an uninsured individual damages your vehicle, your insurance would still need to cover the damages. This does not mean that the uninsured driver will get off scot-free. If the police were involved in the accident, they will likely ask for that individual’s license and insurance information upon interacting with them, at which point the officer would likely choose to write them up for driving without insurance. If an uninsured driver damages their own vehicle and it was their fault, they would have to pay for the damages to both vehicles out of pocket.
As you can see, there are many nuances when it comes to insurance policies, damages, and injuries. No matter if you caused the damages or if your friend caused them, it is always a good idea to make sure you are not paying more than you need to. Consulting with a traffic ticket lawyer will allow you to rest assured that you are fully aware of your rights in these situations and are choosing the best possible course of action.
To consult with a traffic ticket lawyer or to learn more about our criminal defense services, call The Law Office of Brian C. Andritch at (559) 484-2112 or contact us online.