Driving Someone Else’s Car without Insurance

Various circumstances and policy arrangements can complicate things when driving someone else’s car without insurance. First of all, there are so many different types of policies with varying conditions in the market today. This makes it harder to give an answer that will almost always be true. Many people think that their own insurance coverage will cover them when they drive a vehicle they don’t own. This is usually true but you need to check your policy to see what coverage you have for various situations like an insured driver driving uninsured car. Several different driving and insurance scenarios are discussed below.

Insurance Coverage when Driving Someone Else’s Car

Under standard coverage terms, your current policy would automatically cover a new car “you” just bought for few days to allow time to arrange alternative cover for it. But, your policy would only cover liability when driving someone else’s vehicle and wouldn’t cover damages to the car you drive (someone else’s auto). It is the owner’s responsibility to insure a vehicle. If the owner didn’t insure the car he would stand to lose as he would have to pay for repairs out of pocket even if you were driving.

Who owns or rents the vehicle is important as to what your insurance would cover. You don’t normally have insurable interest on someone else’s car and your insurance would not pay for the damages to the car itself. It would only provide secondary liability coverage for third parties. 

Insured Driver Driving Someone Else’s Insured Auto

In most cases, both the driver and the vehicle owner would have separate insurance. If you are driving “someone else’s automobile” your auto insurance would extend the “liability coverage” to this vehicle as well. However, owner’s policy would always be the primary policy. When the owner’s liability policy limit is exhausted your own insurance would kick in as the secondary policy.

Insured Driver Driving Uninsured Car

When you have a policy for a vehicle you own this policy may afford you coverage when you drive another vehicle that isn’t listed on the policy. In this case, you are an insured driver. The definition of an uninsured car isn’t really straight forward and the answers depends on many factors like who owns the uninsured car and what is the coverage in your policy for cars that aren’t listed on it.

First of all, you need insurance to drive and the owner of the vehicle is responsible for insuring it. Normally, your auto insurance policy should provide liability coverage when you are driving someone else’s car. However, this coverage is secondary to the policy of the vehicle owner as most policies provide coverage for occasional drivers who obtained permission from the owner. However, your own insurance would be primary when driving an uninsured car as an insured driver due to lack of previously mentioned primary insurance.

Under normal circumstances, your policy should cover any liability claims arising from an accident you caused while driving someone else’s automobile, regardless of you knowing if the vehicle was insured or not. If you didn’t know or had no way of knowing the vehicle wasn’t insured you have a better face with your insurer. However, your insurer may not be happy with you if they find out that you drove a vehicle even though you knew it wasn’t insured. So, they may pay the claim reluctantly and note that you are a bit of a loose cannon.

So far, we are assuming that your policy don’t have special conditions on the “insured autos” section to exclude driving any other car except the listed ones. As mentioned earlier, it is getting harder to talk about a standard policy with all the different variants sold in the market. There are certain circumstances where the answer to can an insured driver drive an uninsured car will be “no” and they are;

  • You cannot expect your policy for another vehicle to cover you when you are driving an uninsured car you own, unless you just bought it and haven’t had time to contact your insurer. You either add this other car on to your existing policy or buy another policy for it. You cannot keep it in the garage uninsured and drive with your existing policy for another car whenever you like.
  • The vehicles owned by people who live in the same address with you aren’t usually considered as someone else’s vehicle because you need to be listed on their policies and you need to know more about their insurance status.
  • If you have a regular access to a vehicle you should be included on the policy and therefore cannot count it as occasional use of someone else’s vehicle.

In any case, liability and damages to the car you are driving are two separate things and we only talked about liability coverage when driving someone else’s vehicle above. The damages to the car belonging to someone else aren’t covered by your insurance no matter who was driving it. The said car must have its own policy insuring it for comprehensive and collision coverage in order for damages to a particular car to be covered regardless of who was driving it.

The only exception is the coverage for rental cars. If it was an automobile rented “to your name” your policy would cover it for full coverage if your own policy have full coverage. Again, you should check that your policy extends to rental cars before assuming this to be the case automatically.

Here are a few other situations relating to what is covered and under which circumstances.

Uninsured Driver Driving Someone Else’s Insured Car

If the car you drive is insured for occasional drivers and you have the permission of the owner to drive it you don’t necessarily need to have your own insurance. As mentioned above, if you have insurance it would be secondary to the owner’s policy. You can still buy car insurance without a car if you want to make sure that you are definitely covered against liability claims.

Uninsured Driver Driving Someone Else’s Car without Insurance

When both the owner of the vehicle and the person driving it don’t have insurance the situation is no different than driving without insurance. The driver can be charge with failing to show insurance documents when asked and the owner can be charged with letting an uninsured car be driven. As far as third parties are concerned, any accident would go down as a collision with an uninsured motorist. Third parties would have to rely on their own Uninsured Motorist and/or Collision Coverage for their damages and injuries. Afterwards, third party insurers can sue both the driver and owner together or separately to recoup the claim payment they made.

Who Is Responsible for Damages and Injuries?

The driver’s policy is likely to pay for liability claims when an insured driver driving someone else’s car without insurance. The fact remains that the vehicle owner allowed an uninsured vehicle to be driven. Police may still charge the owner of the vehicle for not insuring it before it is driven. Also, third parties can still go after the owner since the owner remains responsible for damages and injuries caused by his/her automobile.

It is always best to make prior insurance arrangement before buying a vehicle as it is explained why on this post titled; do you need insurance to buy a car. It is best to identify a cheap auto insurance company for the type of car you like. Then, you can just give the broker or insurance company a call when you decide to buy the car and place it on cover.

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