Skip to main content
Blog category: Driving

What Happens if You Let Someone Borrow Your Car?

6 min read

Your friend flew in for a visit. During their stay, they ask to borrow your car for a trip to the grocery store. Of course, you want to help, but now you’re wondering, “Can my friend drive my car?” What if you lend the car and there’s an accident -- what happens, then? Do they also borrow your car insurance and does your insurance policy even allow you to let them drive it?

Although you should check your individual policy, usually, you can let your friend drive your car without violating your coverage. As long as you give the person permission and they only drive the car occasionally, there shouldn’t be an issue.

Accidents, however, can happen anytime. Even a minor accident can cause confusion about whose insurance covers the damage. Find out what happens when you lend your car to a family member or friend.

Who Is and Isn’t Covered When You Lend a Car?

Car insurance coverage follows the vehicle, not the driver. When you allow a friend, family member, or babysitter to borrow your vehicle, they also borrow your car insurance. Your insurance becomes the primary coverage when lending the car to family members or friends.

Even if the person borrowing your car has the best coverage available, your insurance covers your vehicle. However, the borrower’s insurance might provide backup coverage in certain situations. So the answer to whether your friend can drive your car, is yes, but there may be some insurance implications to watch out for.

While your friend can drive your car and be covered by your insurance, this only applies when you give permission and lend your car. If a friend takes your car without your consent, your insurance probably won’t cover them.

Another circumstance where your insurance may not cover someone you lend your car to is if they’re excluded from your policy. Excluded drivers are usually family or household members you choose to exclude from your policy. Typically, this decision is necessary when that person is a proven “high-risk driver.” Perhaps they have several car accidents or a DUI on their record.

You might exclude a high-risk driver from your policy to qualify for lower premiums. The exclusion protects the insurance company from increased risk. So, even if you decide to lend a car to someone excluded from your coverage, your insurance policy will not cover them because they’re specifically omitted from your policy coverage.

What if There’s an Accident When Lending a Car to a Family Member?

So your friend can drive your car, and they’re not an excluded driver on your policy. Let’s consider a few different scenarios to see how your car insurance works when lending your car to a family member or friend. This way, you’ll know whose insurance to call after an accident.

You lend your car, and while out and about, your friend is involved in an accident with your vehicle. Another driver hit the side of your car, causing damage, and your friend was not at fault. In this situation, the at-fault driver’s insurance would be responsible for any damages to your car and any injuries to your friend.

In an accident where your friend is at fault, however, your insurance would likely cover the damage to the other driver’s car. Your liability coverage would probably pay for any injuries or damage to the other driver as well. However, damages to your vehicle would not be covered unless you have collision coverage. To repair damages using collision coverage, you’ll probably need to pay your deductible even though you weren’t driving at the time of the accident.

There are circumstances when you lend your car, and your friend’s insurance might have to cover some of the results of an accident. For example, you might discover that your insurance coverage limits aren’t high enough to cover the damages to the other driver’s car or medical bills. Your friend’s car insurance may have to be involved in covering the remaining costs.

Many insurance policies will cover the remaining liability costs associated with the accident if your insurance limits aren’t high enough. It’s important to remember that every car insurance policy is different and yours may have other guidelines for situations where a borrowed car was in an accident. Check with both your and your friend’s insurance policies to ensure you understand your coverage.

What Happens if the Driver Gets a Traffic Violation?

We know someone else can drive your car if you’ve given them permission. If they’re involved in an accident, your car insurance will cover the damages in many cases. But what if they get a ticket? Speeding tickets and other traffic violations factor into the insurance company’s estimate that a driver is a higher risk, which can lead to increased insurance premiums. This is something else to consider when asking, “Can my friend drive my car?”

Like at-fault accidents, traffic violations usually follow the driver. This means if you lend your car, and your friend gets a speeding ticket, it’s unlikely your insurance rates would increase due to their ticket. However, your friend’s insurance rates may increase even though they weren’t driving their own vehicle when they got the ticket.

Exceptions to Letting Someone Borrow Your Car Insurance

As we’ve seen, often someone else can drive your car if you give permission and still be covered by your car insurance. In essence, you’re allowing them to borrow car insurance. The insurance company usually allows your coverage to follow the car, but some exceptions to this exist.

If you lend your car to someone who cannot legally drive, don’t expect your car insurance to cover the damages from a resulting accident. For instance, the policy may not cover the following:

Remember, you are still responsible for your car, even when lending the car to a family member. While the examples above seem obvious, there is another possible catch. What if the family member also lives with you and drives your car frequently? In that case, you want to name them on your policy as an authorized driver. Policyholders who avoid doing so to keep their premiums low, can find that the insurance company might not cover the driver in the event of an accident.

Adding Drivers to Your Policy

An important factor to remember when lending your car to a family member or friend is how often they borrow it. For example, a friend who visits twice a year probably doesn’t need to be added to your policy. However, if your babysitter drives your children to weekly soccer practice in your vehicle, you should notify your insurance company to ensure you both have proper protection.

When you add another driver to your insurance policy, they will need to undergo the same underwriting you do, which may affect your premiums. Talk with your agent to learn more about whom you may need to add as a named driver to your policy to protect you and your vehicle when someone else is behind the wheel.

Driving insurance policies differ widely in the coverage they offer. Contact your friendly Wawanesa agent to be sure you have the coverage you need and to learn how it can be affected when you lend your car to a friend.

Advertisement: Have a question? Wawanesa’s agents are here to help. Click to contact an agent.

Related Articles

See All Driving Articles


The above content is for informational purposes only and is not a direct representation of coverages offered by Wawanesa or its policies. The information does not refer to any specific contract of insurance and does not modify any definitions, provisions, exclusions or limitations expressly stated in any contracts of insurance. All references within the above content are illustrative and may not apply to your situation. The terms and conditions of the actual insurance policy or policies involved in a claim are determinative as to whether an accident or other loss is covered. To understand the coverage under your current policy, please log into the account management platform to review your policy or contact an agent directly.

Get a Quote Today