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Why NOT to drive your Friend’s Car in US without your name on his Insurance?

Why NOT to drive car without auto insurance on your name.

It might be common for some of us not to worry too much about car insurance stuff and be tempted to drive our friend’s car when we visit them. It can also happen occasionally when you need to drop your friend to airport using his car or similar situations.  The reality is, when everything goes well, there is nothing to worry. But, unfortunately if it is not your day, you may be in big trouble. Let me share my experience driving my friend’s car.

Driving Friend’s car with and without insurance

I went to visit my friend and during my visit I wanted to go to the bank.  My friend was gracious enough to let me drive his big SUV. I am used to driving a mid-size car and all of sudden, the big SUV felt a little uncomfortable to me…Anyways, it was all good and I came home… I drove for couple days and everything was fine. My friend said, why don’t we just add you on my auto insurance just to be safe. I said that’s fine no big deal.  He added me to his insurance. Next day, it just happened that I was in a rush for something and ended up in a small accident, the SUV just got a small scratch to bumper, but the other car was very light vehicle and got a small dent…Anyways, I had my insurance as well and I called up the insurance and explained that if my insurance would cover it ?  The insurance agent said “NO, it does not”. I was shocked…My assumption was my auto insurance would cover any vehicle that I drive…but that’s not true…he said that your friends insurance should cover it…The damage to other car was estimated to be $3,500 dollars…That’s a lot of money…Bottom line, I got saved because I was added as an additional driver to my friends insurance. Supposedly, I were not be part of his insurance, I would have been screwed !

5 Lessons learnt from my insurance issue incident and  experience :

  1. Though it is very tempting, avoid driving your friend’s car if you do not have your name added to his insurance. If it is not your day, you can be screwed.
  2. I had assumptions that my auto insurance would cover any car I drive…NOT true…Check with your insurance for more info.
  3. If you have to drive your friends car, make sure he adds you to his insurance policy…Talk to his insurance agent if needed and clarify.
  4. Do NOT drive any car or SUV that you are not comfortable with. I was not comfortable and I was complaining my friend the same…I should have not drove his SUV…Guess what, I kept driving and screwed it up…if you screw up you cannot change it…avoid driving if not comfortable with vehicle.
  5. I was driving in a new city using my phone for navigation and looking for directions occasionally. It was a bad idea doing too many things just by myself.  It worked for the last 5 years….but not this one time….It is a risky proposition to do all this in a new place by yourself. Get a GPS and focus on driving…

Do you have any similar insurance related incident to share ? Anything to watch out for ?

Image credit : http://blog.timesunion.com/highschool/files/2010/03/car-accident-drivers.jpg

17 comments… add one

  • Raj Jul 21, 2014 Reply

    I will borrow my friend’s car for the Driving Test. He has the insurance papers. Does he have to add my name to the insurance papers before I take the driving test ?

  • wrong info- please remove it Oct 22, 2013 Reply

    Am I covered if I drive someone else’s car?
    Generally, your GEICO policy provides coverage while driving someone else’s car if:
    you have the vehicle owner’s permission to use the vehicle;
    you use the vehicle for the purpose which the owner gave you permission; and
    you do not regularly use the vehicle.
    If covered, your policy’s specific coverage, limits and deductibles would apply.
    Typically, the vehicle owner’s insurance would apply first in the event of an accident. However, in certain circumstances the coverage provided by your GEICO policy could also apply. This is known as secondary or excess coverage.

  • vijay Jan 11, 2012 Reply

    i second alfred , i just called statefarm minnesota and clarified insurance is for the car and needs car owners concept and appropriate driving license to drive it and be covered .

  • GeoATL Dec 27, 2011 Reply

    I stay in Atl.
    My H1b expires on 8-Jan
    With that my driving license also expires. I have filed for the extension. in Normal processing. Which will take around 3 months on an avg for approval
    DDS(DMV) said that they will not extend based on the Receipt notice and check with INS-immigration. Is there a way i can get some approval for getting the driving license

    • Saurabh Dec 30, 2011 Reply

      Upgrade your petition to premium processing to get a quicker result. Once approved, you can go for DL renewal.

  • Arnab Jul 30, 2011 Reply

    This is absolutely wrong information, I don’t know where from the author came up with this information (or his insurance company was making a fool of him), insurance is not just for your car, its for you also. I often drive rented vehicles and never take an insurance, I everytime confirm with my insurance company (Statefarm) & they said my insurance is covered on any vehicle I am driving. I have proofs where I bumped a guys car and my insurance company paid the expenses (minus deductibles). The author is probably having insurance from some cons !!!

    • Kumar Jul 30, 2011 Reply

      Arnab,
      This is my personal experience and did not make up anything. I am NOT talking about rented vehicles here… I did verify every piece of information and talked to few insurance companies before committing… I was exactly under your impressions until I ended up into the situation….

    • licensed agent and adjuster Apr 13, 2014 Reply

      NONE of you are totally right, this is the facts… you only have to add a driver to the policy if their permanent official address is the same address as yours (the garaged address of the vehicle) ANYONE that has a valid license and you give permission can drive your car EVEN IF they do not have insurance themselves, or even if they do not even own a car IF an accident happens, YOUR policy covers the accident as long as they are not a member of your household. IN THE EVENT YOUR POLICY LIMITS can not cover the damages, lets say he hit a $75,000 BMW, then if your friend has insurance the liability coverage on his policy will offer some assistance. BUT THE POLICY THAT IS WRITTEN FOR THE VEHICLE takes precedence! NOW if you borrow his car, wreck it, you are at fault, then find out he never got around to getting insurance, THEN your policy will protect you in the way that it will pay to fix the other persons vehicle if you are at fault. your buddy, well tell him sorry and work some overtime to fix your ride I guess, lol.

      I am licensed property and casualty producer/ agent and also licensed personal lines adjuster

  • Priyabrata Feb 19, 2011 Reply

    I also doubt. I am pretty much sure that the insurance is on the car and not on individual persons. If you are driving your friend’s car with is consent and something happens then the insurance on the car should cover that.

    I clarified this with my insurance company before going on a trip with friends.

    But note that if something happens, nothing is stopping the other driver to sue you.The insurance in car will not cover that. :-)

  • vinu Nov 17, 2010 Reply

    Alfred is right !
    There is something called as vicarious liability: A friend can borrow a car with owner’s permission and owner is responsible for all damages caused. The only problem then , in case of an accident , is the owner will be responsible for all damages. However by the adding the friend to the insurance the owner insurance would still go up !! ( becuase there is someone who caused an accident needs to be covered ) but I think by removing the friend/roomie out of the insurance ( as good as kicking the Bad points/history out of insurance ) it should not go down . This whole thing is based on the assumption that an insurance rate is fixed upon the person’s driving history and not on the vehicle history he is driving . I think regardless whether the friend was added/not added his driving history will have the new black mark of causing an accident and his premium would go up.

    Also, If the friend didn’t borrow the car without the owner’s permission I think it amount to stealing and this would vindicate the owner and put more blame and problems on the friend !

    Owners:
    ———–
    All in all the lesson is not to add someone to your insurance if you don’t want your insurance to go up because of something you didn’t do it :)

    Friends:
    ———–
    It makes things easy for you but you might lose a friendship along with the dented ego if you cause an accident driving your friend’s car. Also you would not be familiar driving your friend’s car ! The risk is big .. it’s better to get a rental!

    • Kumar Nov 17, 2010 Reply

      Vinu, Thanks for clarifying

    • Rob Nov 29, 2011 Reply

      One addendum to all this information:

      In Massachusetts, you have to insure people residing in your household that will use the car. This means roommates or anyone else that gets mail at your address.

      Other than that, the insurance agency of the vehicle in the accident will cover the claims and then seek out via subrogation to the actual driver.

      • Harold Jun 5, 2012 Reply

        This is incorrect and a common misconception. In Massachusetts, you are only required to list household members who are related by blood, marriage, or adoption. Roommates do not apply.

        Any insurance agent trying to tell you otherwise is either grossly misinformed, or is conning you.

        That also will not tell you that you can file an exclusion for anyone who does not drive your car.

        With regards to the article, the author is incorrect and is the victim of unethical adn misinformed insurance company employees.

    • Sam Mar 28, 2014 Reply

      Referring to “vicarious liability” is not helpful. All that means is sometimes you can be held responsible for the actions of others. So, we have learned that (i) if you crash your car, you have liability; (ii) if your friend crashes your car, you also have liability. Liability is the reason we buy insurance. So, to say the owner has liability because the friend borrowed the car is not helpful at all when the question in this thread is, given that there is liability, will the insurance company cover it?

  • Alfred Nov 16, 2010 Reply

    This article is highly circumspect.
    In the above situation you would have been in trouble only if your friend did not have insurance on his vehicle. Even if you had not been listed as an additional driver in his policy your friends insurance would have covered the loss. Any loss to the vehicle driven by a licensed person under the insured’s knowledge is covered in the Personal Auto Policy.

    • Kumar Nov 17, 2010 Reply

      Alfred, Thanks for bringing up the point.

    • Raj Mar 16, 2012 Reply

      As per GEICO, u have two conditions to meet for the insurance company to pay for accident caused by non listed driver.
      1. Qualified Driver Clause (example : valid US license, driver have another insured car on his name etc..)
      2. Permissible use Clause (Owner agreed to use the car by the driver in question)
      Consequences of accident : your friend (owner of the car) pays for it by increased premium. If he declines to state ‘permissible use’ of lending the car, insurance company do not pay and u r liable for theft etc.. (what not..)

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