Driving someone else’s car can be risky and expensive if you are ever involved in an accident. No matter how carefully you drive, the unexpected can occur. Likewise, there are some important matters to consider before getting behind the wheel of another person’s vehicle.
At the top of that list is who is actually responsible if you are involved in a wreck. We explain your responsibility below.
What do most insurance providers allow?
Many standard insurance policies allow permissive use, which says that drivers not listed on a policy can drive a vehicle periodically.
Most insurers define periodically as less than 12 times per year. Although car insurance typically follows the vehicle and not the driver, if you are driving the vehicle more often than 12 times per year, it is best to be on the insurance policy.
Who is responsible for damages?
To determine who is responsible for damages if you are driving someone else’s car, consider the following questions.
Was it a multi-car accident?
If you cause a wreck in your friend’s vehicle, his insurance provider will likely pay for damages. If, however, the cost of the total damages exceeds the limit of your friend’s policy, your insurance provider can be held responsible for paying the difference.
For example, let’s say you are driving your friend’s car. You cause an accident, and the total damages equal to $15,000. If your friend’s policy covers vehicle damage up to $10,000 only, your insurance policy can then be used to cover the remaining $5,000 in damages.
Was it a single-vehicle accident?
If you are involved in a single-car crash, your friend’s insurance will cover damage to the vehicle if collision coverage is included.
Collision insurance covers the vehicle in the event you hit another object such as a tree, pole, or house. Once the deductible has been paid, the insurance company pays the remaining cost of repairs.
Did you drive your friend’s car without permission?
If you took a friend’s car without his knowledge, you could be considered a non-permissive user. You will be responsible for all damages. If you have collision insurance, it can be used to cover the cost of damages.
What will insurance cover?
An insurance policy’s coverage may include:
- Collision Coverage: This pays for vehicle repairs after the deductible.
- Bodily Injury Liability: This type of insurance coverage pays for another person’s injury or death in an auto accident.
- Property Damage Liability: This coverage pays if you are responsible for damage to another’s property.
- Medical Payments Coverage: The driver’s medical expenses will be covered regardless of who is at fault. There is generally a limit to the amount that will be covered. Coverage amounts vary depending on the insurance company and the insurance policy.
What are the insurance minimums in Alabama?
If you own and drive a vehicle in Alabama, the Alabama Department of Revenue’s Motor Vehicle Division requires property damage and bodily injury liability coverage. The amounts listed below are the minimum amounts of insurance coverage that a driver must have on each vehicle.
- $25,000 for property damage: This is the maximum amount a policy will pay for all damaged property, including vehicles, as the result of a covered accident.
- $25,000 for bodily injury per person: This is the maximum amount the policy will pay to any person who is involved in the accident and suffers an injury. Although this is the maximum amount, that does not mean all people injured in the accident will receive this full amount. They could possibly receive much less.
- $50,000 for bodily injuries per accident: This is the maximum amount the policy will pay for all injuries that were caused by the accident. Whether there were two or six people injured, this is the combined maximum amount the insurance company will pay.
How to take precautions when driving a friend’s vehicle
It is always wise to think about the potential consequences before borrowing someone’s car if you are uninsured. Driving without insurance in the state of Alabama is considered a misdemeanor. If you are caught, that misdemeanor can result in a fine, suspended license, and even jail time.
If you do decide to borrow a friend’s car, it is a good idea to review both your insurance policy and your friend’s insurance policy. It is an even better idea to speak with your insurance agents to answer any questions regarding what is covered by the individual policies.
Still, accidents do happen. If you, or a loved one, have been involved in a wreck, please call the attorneys at Timberlake & League. We can help.