There are so many different types of policies with varying conditions in the market today that complicates things when a driver who has own insurance causes accident with someone else’s uninsured car. This makes it harder to give an answer that will almost always be true. Many people think that their coverage will include using a vehicle that doesn’t belong to them. This is usually true but you need to check to see what provisions you have for various circumstances. It is probably best to look at different scenarios and discuss them so that we may have a better understanding of the situation.
Insurance Coverage when Driving Someone Else’s Car
Under standard terms, your current policy would automatically cover a new auto “you” just bought for few days to allow time to make alternative arrangements for it. But, it would only offer Liability protection when you crash someone else’s vehicle and wouldn’t include damages to the car you were operating. It is the owners’ responsibility to insure vehicles and if they didn’t they would stand to lose, as they would have to pay for repairs out of pocket no matter who was in charge at the time.
Normally you don’t have interest on another person’s auto. That is why your carrier would not pay for the damages to the car itself. It would only provide secondary liability coverage for third parties. However, you are responsible for a rental automobile while it is in your care and that is why your policy may extend the same coverage you have to it.
Driving Someone Else’s Auto
In most cases, both the person on the steering wheel and registered keeper would have separate insurance. In such cases, owner’s policy would always be the primary and the driver’s is secondary for Liability only. In other words, yours will only come into picture if the limits of the primary is exhausted and wouldn’t offer any other protection.
An Insured Person Driving Uninsured Car
The policy you have for own vehicle may include certain losses incurred while you were using another automobile that wasn’t listed on the schedule. There is no problem on this end so far. Let’s assume for clarity that the other automobile belongs to a private individual who should have arranged its coverage, as required by laws in nearly all states, but didn’t.
In such a case, previously mentioned primary is missing and therefore your policy would take its place to compensate the third party damages and injuries you caused with this particular auto. Simply, it was next in line but suddenly moved to first place in the queue because the space somehow opened up.
Under normal circumstances, it shouldn’t matter that you knew about it 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 company. However, they may not be happy with you if they find out that you went ahead anyway knowing the position. So, they may pay the claim reluctantly and note that you are a bit of a loose cannon.
The fact of the matter is that an automobile needs to have at least minimum state required Liability before it can hit the roads. However, it is a matter for the registered keeper to deal with because he or she may actually get a ticket and the auto may be impounded for not complying with the laws. You still have to prove and argue that you aren’t totally unprotected since they will look at the vehicle’s papers first.
In addition, third parties may sue the owner of the vehicle because he or she is responsible for any accidents happened in it, regardless of who was operating it. So, he’d better pray that your automobile insurer fully compensates them so that they cannot come after him, as they cannot ask to be paid twice.
So far, we are assuming that your policy don’t have special conditions or exclusion like not extending any further than the vehicle listed. As mentioned earlier, it is getting harder to talk about a standard with all the different variants sold in the market. Still there are certain circumstances where it wouldn’t provide any protection and they are;
- You cannot expect your policy for another vehicle to cover you driving an uninsured auto you own, unless you just bought it and haven’t had time to contact them. You either have to add this other car on to an existing policy or buy another one for it. Remember that what is protected is clearly written on the schedule with license plate number and other details and it doesn’t say anything belonging to you.
- The vehicles owned by people who live in the same address with you aren’t usually considered as someone else’s automobile because you need to be listed on their policies and you need to know more about their status. “I didn’t know” doesn’t cut any more with a member of the household.
- If you have a regular access to a vehicle you should be listed on the schedule and therefore cannot count it as occasional use. You clearly have a frequent access and that must be dealt with accordingly.
So far, we have been talking about Liability only. The damages to the car belonging to someone else aren’t included in any third party policy. The said car must have Comprehensive and Collision, bought specifically for it by the legal keeper, before any claim can be submitted for damages, regardless of who was in charge.
The only exception is rental cars. Under typical circumstances, if you have full coverage it would extend fully to automobiles that were rented “to you” since you are legally responsible for them (not the keeper). Again, you should check that this is actually the case for the reasons we have already discussed before assuming it automatically.
Here are a few other situations relating to what is included and under which circumstances. This way of creating scenarios and trying to answer them is necessary to narrow the scope we are discussing. Otherwise, we wouldn’t know where to start and finish.
Occasional Use Cases
If the auto is insured for occasional drivers and you have the permission of the owner you don’t necessarily need to have any other provision. Often people with no car ask favors from friends and family to use theirs. It is not a problem that they don’t have a separate policy. You can still buy Liability only without a car in order to get protection for these sorts of situations. It works the same way as described above.
No Coverage At All
It is just a case of driving without insurance when both the legal title owner and the person behind the steering wheel don’t have anything. The only difference is that both of them can be charged and get a ticket or appear in the court. They usually won’t care that it doesn’t belong to you or it wasn’t you in charge. Both are guilty for taking it this far.
Unfortunately, innocent third parties involved in the accident would have to rely on their own Uninsured Motorist and/or Collision coverage for their damages and injuries. Afterwards, third party carriers can sue both of them together or separately to recoup the claim payment they made. The only thing that may save them is having no fault in the crash.
Initially, lending or borrowing a car may appear to be a simple favor. But it can have far reaching consequences following an accident. Therefore, it is best that both parties are aware of the position because the law doesn’t usually accept silly excuses in the lines of “I didn’t know”. You have got to know if you have coverage in place or not whenever you take a vehicle out for a spin, no matter whom it belongs. Otherwise, you are on the hook for the losses you caused and expected to pay them out of pocket.