Do You Insure the Car or the Driver?

Sometimes it can be confusing what are you really insuring, the car or the drivers to drive it? That is why people often ask questions like does car insurance follow the car or the driver? It may sound like a tongue twister but actually a very good question to understand how vehicle insurance works. Let’s try to clarify when your policy insures the drivers and when it insures the auto.

A blanket question like does auto insurance follow the car or the driver cannot be answered without breaking it down. The answer changes depending on the specific policy coverage, its conditions, the state it is issued in and circumstances involving a particular incident. You need to answer this question in relation to a particular coverage component of a policy and check the policy for special conditions and exclusions before you can give a conclusive answer.

There are a few options available to you when you are insuring a car and that gives you flexibility. However, you need to understand what does your auto insurance cover and what doesn’t it cover?

Does Insurance Follow the Car or Driver?

We cannot generalize auto insurance and say that it always follows the vehicle or the driver although insurance follows the car not the driver in most cases.

Usually, the type of policy, state you live in and circumstances determine if your coverage would follow your automobile or you. There are circumstances and types of coverage that follow the driver and there are covers that insure a vehicle where it is and when it is driven by other drivers who are permitted on the policy. Let’s have a look at these coverage options in detail.

A typical full coverage automobile insurance policy has several components. Some of those components cover the drivers, some cover the car and the others cover the car while driven by the permissible drivers. However, liability coverage doesn’t cover your own car but cover the insured drivers for any damages and injuries they may cause to third parties. So, it is possible that a policy insures only the drivers or the car and both together.

Does Liability Car Insurance Follow the Driver?

A liability policy doesn’t insure damages to your own automobile. It is purchased to compensate third parties against any damages and injuries you cause to others. Standard liability auto insurance may cover the insured driver driving someone else’s vehicle including rentals. However, it is hard to talk about standard policies anymore because there are so many variations, restrictions and special conditions. Yet, it is fair to say that liability insurance follows the driver. Usually, it provides secondary car insurance in case you are driving someone else’s auto.

By the way, it doesn’t entirely abandon the insured vehicle since it covers occasional drivers driving the insured vehicle as long as they are not excluded with a special clause. And yet, a liability policy doesn’t actually provide any coverage for the insured vehicle but provide liability coverage for the accidents involving insured vehicle.

What Does Comprehensive Auto Insurance Coverage Cover?

Comprehensive portion of a full coverage policy insures the car against many damages including fire, flood, vandalism, theft and falling objects. So, it protects the vehicle even it wasn’t driven. In other words, comprehensive auto insurance coverage follows the vehicle and drivers don’t come into picture in most comprehensive claims since the damages aren’t usually sustained when the vehicle was being driven.

Does Collision Car Insurance Follow the Vehicle?

This coverage protects the insured auto against damages sustained during a car crash. So, it is fair to say that collision coverage follows the car. But does it cover the vehicle regardless of who was driving it? Most collisions happen when the vehicle was in motion and therefore, who was driving it comes into context. A standard collision coverage covers insured vehicle while it was driven by the listed drivers on the policy and occasional drivers who was permitted by the owner.

However, there are auto insurance policies with driver exclusions. A collision damage sustained by the insured vehicle may not be covered if it was driven by a driver who was explicitly excluded on the policy. Sometimes, these exclusions may be by name and other times by age group. For example, most sports car insurance policies exclude drivers of certain age like under 21 or 25.

Comprehensive and Collision Coverage follows the car and it won’t follow the driver since it won’t provide coverage for another vehicle. The only coverage that follows the driver is liability and it will only provide limited coverage in case the third party vehicle isn’t sufficiently insured by the owner.

Even insurance was bought to insure the vehicle like collision coverage, it is hard to generalize an insurance policy and say that it follows or insures the car at all times. There may be exclusions and special conditions to be aware of.

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