Do You Need Auto Insurance for When You Borrow a Friend’s Car?

Last Updated on September 28, 2020

Sam from Glendale, CA asks, “Are You Covered If You Take Your Buddy’s Car For A Ride?”

If your friend lets you borrow his car, will his auto insurance cover you? In most cases, it depends on what you’re using the car for and how much you’re using it.

Do You Need Auto Insurance for When You Borrow a Friend's Car?If you only borrow your friend’s car once in a while, or very irregularly, most likely your friend’s policy will cover you when you drive the car. Any auto policy will strictly define who it covers, and you can look it up in the definitions section of the policy. You’ll want to look for the definition of an “insured person” to get an idea of who’s covered.

For instance, an “insured person” may be any person that drives the car with the permission of the driver or a relative of the driver. If you take this definition, if a relative gives you permission to drive his car, you’re covered by his car insurance policy – just so long as your other actions while you were using the car also fall within policy guidelines.

How Long Are You Borrowing The Car For?

One more consideration is how long you’re borrowing your buddy’s car. If you use the car for just a few hours or even for a couple of days, that’s probably not what’s considered regular and frequent use. But, on the other hand, if you borrowed your friend’s car for a couple of weeks or multiple times per year, you may not be covered by his policy.

Look, the car insurance provider wants to provide coverage and be fair, but they’re probably not going to cover you if you’re using his car on a regular basis. In a case like this, you would probably be considered a regular driver, which means you should be added to the insurance policy.

Why Are You Driving Your Buddy’s Car?

Last but not least, you’ve got to be clear about why you’re using your friend’s car. If you’re using the car for business reasons, like hauling around lawnmowers for your lawn-mowing business, you’ll have to make sure the car is covered under a business or commercial auto insurance policy. Personal auto insurance policies usually don’t cover anyone who’s carrying out business with their cars.

Car insurance policies have long lists of actions and circumstances and definitions that are not covered, so be sure you check and see what’s covered before you take out your friend’s car.

If A Borrowed Car Is In An Accident, Whose Insurance Provider Will Pay?

What happens if a friend borrows your vehicle and gets into an accident? It’s a question many of us have while growing up. We all let our friends use our cars from time to time when we’re in high school or college. As we get older, we might loan our car to a relative or friend. We might have a designated driver for those nights when we get a little too sauced out at the club.

Whether it’s because of a breakdown, a task, a designated driver, or just a favor, it’s very common for someone to take out a car that they don’t own. Most of the time, everything goes well. Sadly, sometimes borrowed cars get into accidents. It can be stressful and confusing trying to figure out whose insurance company is supposed to foot the bill.

Most of the time, insurance travels with the car. So, if a friend takes out your car and wrecks it, your insurance provider is responsible. If the accident is so serious that it runs over the limit of your insurance provider, the excess usually falls on the insurance provider of the borrower.

Now, if you borrow an uninsured car, and you get into a wreck, you will be liable. Plus, an owner isn’t responsible if his car is used without permission.

A Few Different Scenarios

Scenario #1: Your uninsured friend takes out your car and does some serious damage

Lending your car to a reckless, uninsured driver is a bad idea. If the damage your friend causes runs over the limits of your policy, the injured person may go after you for property and medical expenses. Letting a friend take out your car can put you in deep debt.

Scenario #2: Your buddy takes out your car without permission and wrecks it completely

You probably won’t be responsible for the damages because you didn’t give tacit permission to your friend to take your car out. Your insurance company will pay for the damages. Most insurance companies will assume you gave your friend permission unless there is a clear indication you did not.

Scenario #3: Your friend drives your car and causes an accident with very little damage

Your insurance company will pay for it, because most insurance companies cover you, a relative, or anyone else you give permission to use your car.

Final Word on Insurance When Borrowing a Friend’s Car

Insurance usually follows the car, not the driver. Unfortunately, not everybody has auto insurance. In fact, one in seven drivers in the United States is driving uninsured.

You should do your best to verify your friend has car insurance before borrowing his or her car – just in case! You never know when you will need insurance. Accidents come at you when you least expect them to. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!

James Shaffer
James Shaffer James Shaffer is a writer for and a well-seasoned auto insurance industry veteran. He has a deep knowledge of insurance rules and regulations and is passionate about helping drivers save money on auto insurance. He is responsible for researching and writing about anything auto insurance-related. He holds a bachelor's degree from Bentley University and his work has been quoted by NBC News, CNN, and The Washington Post.
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