Your best friend wants to borrow your car. He wouldn’t ask unless he really needed it. So even though you know about his past fender benders, you give in. What happens if your friend gets into an accident in your car? Read on to find out.

Car insurance follows the car, not the driver.

You may assume that your friend’s insurance will cover him, since he got into the accident. That’s not the case. Car insurance covers the car rather than the driver. You don’t even have to be in the car. If your car is in an accident, and the driver is at fault, your insurance will be used to cover damages to the vehicles involved. If you carry collision coverage, it will take care of damage to your car, less your deductible. If your coverage isn’t enough to pay all the damages, your friend’s auto insurance may act as secondary coverage.

Interesting sidenote: While car insurance follows the driver, that’s not the case with tickets. If your friend gets a ticket while in your car, that only affects his record.

 Permissive use vs. non-permissive use

The fact that you gave permission to your friend is important. Most auto policies allow you to lend your car to a person for occasional, short-term use. If they are driving your car on a more regular basis, you need to add them to your policy. It’s worth noting that coverage limits may vary under permissive use.

Sometimes a family member or friend borrows your car without permission. If they cause an accident, you are not responsible for the damage. However, it can be difficult to prove that you did not grant them permission. Plus, you will still need to get your car repaired and file a claim with your insurance company. A good tip is to keep your keys secured away from others if you have concerns with them taking your vehicle.

When insurance won’t pay

There are very few instances where insurance will deny coverage of an accident. These include:

  • If the person is specifically excluded from your policy
  • If the person was intentionally breaking the law
  • If the person borrowed your car to offer a commercial service, like a rideshare

 How coverage works

For those times when insurance does pay, here is a breakdown of the coverages that typically apply in a car accident:

  • Collision: Your collision coverage will pay for repairs to your car minus the deductible. Collision coverage is not required unless you’re leasing a car or paying off a loan on a vehicle. However, it may be good to have, especially in the event of an accident.
  • Liability: Liability covers damages to the other vehicle. This coverage is required by law in most states. The two main types of liability coverage are bodily injury and property damage.

 Bodily injury: This coverage helps pay for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering for the driver and passengers in the other In no-fault states, your own injuries are typically covered by your auto policy through a Personal Injury Protection (PIP) claim. (It differs from state to state.)

 Property damage: This coverage helps pay for repairs for the other vehicle or for repair/replacement of property, such as a fence, that is damaged or destroyed by the collision.

  • Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Property Damage: If the other driver is at fault and is not insured or is underinsured, UMPD coverage will help pay for repairs. These are optional coverages in most states. In some states, you are not allowed to carry collision and UMPD at the same time. Also, sometimes UMPD has a policy maximum, or cap on the amount it will pay.

Lending your car can be an expensive favor.

Think carefully before you lend your car to anyone. Even though you didn’t cause the accident, your insurance rates can go up at the next policy renewal.

Before you lend your car, it’s a good idea to review your auto policy and the policy of your friend or family member. Your insurance provider can help to answer any questions you may have.


This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or


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