Every now and then, it becomes necessary to drive a car belonging to someone else. The right to own and drive a car is linked to having financial responsibility in the event of an accident. This makes important to know if you will be insured before you climb behind the wheel. The insurance coverage can be achieved in several different ways.
Most car insurance policies have a provision for non-owners driving the vehicle.
While you have to read the policy to be sure, nearly all liability policies cover the vehicle regardless of who is driving. The policy may contain exclusions for age, physical condition, or the purpose for which the car is being used. The wording usually limits the amount of time that a driver can operate the vehicle before insurance is obtained for that specific driver. This time period can range from a few weeks to a couple of months.
Some policies require that only drivers who are already covered on another vehicle will be covered.
It is almost always the policy that covers the specific vehicle that takes the hit if an accident occurs. However, the company can stipulate that the driver must be insurable. The proof of this is that the driver is already insured to drive some other vehicle. Obviously, along with this, a valid drivers license is required.
If the vehicle is used commercially, the policy may have other types of restrictions.
Drivers of the car may need to have a certain class of drivers license that allows them to operate a commercial vehicle. If the vehicle is built to carry passengers, the state may require you to upgrade your license to be a legal driver. More often than not, commercial vehicles are covered with the expectation that there will be multiple drivers using it.
Make sure that you clearly have the owner’s permission to drive the vehicle.
Borrowing someone’s car without their permission is still considered car theft. Ironically, if the owner has comprehensive on the vehicle’s policy, car thieves are covered, too. This coverage extends both the collision and the liability insurance. Without comprehensive, the insurance company is pretty much off of the hook. If the owner declares to the law that you used the vehicle without proper authorization, you will be the one who can be sued.
If you need to trade vehicles with someone temporarily, you both will be covered as long as both vehicles are properly insured.
Anytime that you are going to operate someone’s vehicle for more than a single day, it is a good idea to notify the agent. In the case of a temporary vehicle swap for some reason, both agents need to be advised. The driver’s insurance will usually pay for the accident, but the claim will generally count against the owner’s insurance rates. Sometimes, the owner gets hit for both sides.