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How auto insurance works when your roommate or friend borrows your car

Does your roommate or friend borrow your car frequently? You may find yourself liable if they cause an accident.


Even if your friend or roommate has his or her own auto insurance policy, you could still be held liable if he or she borrows your car and get into an accident. Contrary to popular belief, auto insurance follows the car – not the driver, according to Esurance.com.

How it works when your roommate or friend borrows your car

When you give someone else permission to drive your car, your insurance takes primary coverage status and the driver’s insurance takes secondary coverage status. This means that your insurance will be liable if an accident happens, so you’ll have to file the claim, pay the deductible and your rate may even increase, according to Esurance. The driver, if she or she has insurance, may be responsible for personal liability or medical expenses. And if the driver doesn’t have coverage, you could be on the hook for all the bills.

It’s important to be aware that some insurers will only pay the state’s minimum coverage if another driver causes an accident with your vehicle, according to Insure.com. This is called a “step-down provision,” and because states’ minimum liability limits usually are not enough to have you covered, you should always buy as much coverage as you can comfortably afford.

If your friend gets into an accident and isn’t at fault, you won’t have to worry, as the other driver’s insurance should take care of it.

Borrowing without permission

If your friend or roommate decides to take your car without your permission and causes an accident, his or her insurance will likely be the primary coverage and yours secondary, according to Esurance. But if he or she doesn’t have insurance, yours should cover the accident.

Consider how often to share

If your friend borrows your car every few months to grab groceries or takes it for the weekend, that probably won’t be considered “regular and frequent use.” But if he or she borrows the car for a few weeks, your insurance may not cover it, according to Progressive.com.

If you expect to share your car all the time, your friend or roommate should be added to your insurance policy as an additional driver. Many insurers will even ask that you list roommates on your policy. And this could affect your rate – if your roommate has a history of accidents, for example, you could end up paying significantly more.

Related: 6 Drivers Who Should Be Listed on Your Car Insurance

Excluding drivers

If you don’t want your roommate to drive your car under any circumstances, you may be able to exclude him or her from your policy if your state’s laws allow it, according to Esurance. If your roommate has multiple DUIs, for example, this could save on your premium.

But if you give the excluded driver permission to borrow your car and he or she causes an accident, your insurance most likely will not cover it and your insurer could cancel your policy. If the driver takes your car without your permission, you may not be held liable.

The Bottom Line

If your friend or roommate borrows your car often, the safest bet is to add that person to your insurance policy to avoid any denied claims or trouble with your insurer. if you're unsure whether to add your friend or roommate, your insurance agent will be a helpful resource in sorting that out. Give one of our insurance advisors a call at (844) 300-3364 to review the specific terms of your policy and whether you should add or exclude friends from your policy.

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Categories: Auto