Chelsey Tucker graduated with a Bachelor of History degree from Metropolitan State University in 2019. She now writes about insurance with her specialty being life insurance and has been quoted on Help Smart Phone and MEL Magazine.

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com.

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Mar 19, 2020

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The lowdown...

  • If you borrow a car, it’s important to understand which policy is primary and which is secondary after a loss
  • The car’s insurance is almost always primary when a claim is filed even if the driver wasn’t listed on the policy
  • If you were granted permission to drive and you don’t live in the household, you’ll be covered as a permissive user
  • The car’s primary insurer will pay out liability claims and physical damage claims to protect the vehicle owner
  • If you have your own insurance, the primary insurer can collect from your insurer after the claim has been settled

Have you ever borrowed a friend’s car? If you have a generous friend who is nice enough to lend you their car while your car is in the shop, you should always consider how taking a spin in their car could put everyone involved at risk.

You don’t want to even consider the fact that you could have an accident, but accidents happen at the worst times.

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If you do have an accident in a borrowed car, there’s no guarantee that the insurance policy will pay for third-party damages or the car’s repairs.

Since you don’t want to leave your friend in a bind for exercising generosity, it’s important to verify that you’re covered to drive before you take up the offer. Here’s what you need to know about coverage on borrowed cars and the questions you should ask your friend:

Know What Type of Coverage the Vehicle Owner Carries

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You don’t ever want to sound ungrateful when a friend is going the extra mile to ensure that you have a car to get around when you’re in a bind.

While it’s important to genuinely show that you appreciate the help, you can’t let your appreciation overshadow the need to verify that your friend has sufficient insurance.

You might not want to directly ask if your friend has insurance unless you have a very honest relationship with one another and they won’t get offended.

If they could take the question wrong, you should just ask how much coverage they have and what deductibles they’re carrying if they have full coverage.

If your friend isn’t sure what type of coverage they hold, a good way to get all of this information without sounding like you’re prying is to have them call their insurance agent.

You should just express that you want to be sure that you borrowing their car won’t create in issue with the owner’s insurance and ask them to verify directly with the company that you can borrow the car and the policy will still afford coverage.

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Will insurance companies cover drivers borrowing a car?

An auto policy typically covers a vehicle when it’s being driven by the licensed named insureds and any other rated drivers who are listed on the policy.

While listing regular drivers is a must, there are cases when a driver who’s not on the policy will be covered like a covered driver as long as they’ve been given permission.

Unlisted drivers are covered under a Personal Auto Policy because of the policy’s permissive user provision. Under this provision, the driver is considered a covered insured on the policy and the insurer will pay if a claim is filed as long as certain conditions are met.

Here are conditions that must be met to be classified as a permissive user:

  • The driver must not live in the same household
  • The driver must not have regular access to the car
  • The driver must have a valid U.S. license
  • The driver must be 25 or older without serious moving violations
  • The driver must not be excluded from the policy because of prior claims

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What type of coverage will pay when you have a loss in a borrowed car?

Now that you know how the car’s insurance works, you need to understand what each coverage pays for if you happen to have a loss. The car’s insurance is usually going to be primary because it protects the vehicle owner.

Physical damage coverage will follow the car and liability will follow you as a permissive driver. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Bodily Injury – pays if you injure passengers in another vehicle while you’re driving the car
  • Property Damage – pays if you damage someone else’s car while driving the borrowed car
  • Comprehensive – will pay if the car catches fire, is stolen, is vandalized, or is damaged from a falling object or flood
  • Collision – will pay for repairs if the car is damaged while it’s being driven
  • Uninsured Motorist – will pay for you and your passengers’ injuries if you’re hit by a driver who isn’t insured
  • Medical Payments – pays for your medical bills if you’re injured in a car-related accident

If you’re borrowing a car that has only liability insurance, you should know that the car’s policy won’t pay to repair the car if you get into an accident.

Depending on the arrangement, the car’s owner should ask that you pay for the repairs that are needed out of your own pocket. Luckily, your insurance might help you foot the bill.

When will your insurance pay for repairs to a borrowed car?

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Your insurance isn’t always going to pay to repair a car that’s not listed on your policy. If you have comprehensive and collision under your policy, it will only pay for claims made in an unlisted car if the car meets the temporary substitute definition.

Physical damage coverage extends to cars that are borrowed or rented when your car is:

  • Being repaired or serviced
  • Is totaled after a loss
  • Damaged after a loss and needs to be repaired
  • Is stolen and hasn’t yet been recovered

Your insurance will always be secondary when you’re borrowing a car. Make sure that you verify that you have coverage. If you don’t have any insurance, you should buy a nonowner’s policy just to have some liability protection.

Get online quotes to compare the rates with several companies, and bind coverage before you drive cars that you rent or borrow from others. Get started now by using our free rate comparison tool.