It’s bad enough to crash your own car and have to take responsibility for the damages, but when someone else has an accident in your vehicle, you can feel trapped. Loaning your vehicle to a friend or family member seemed harmless at the time, but now you have to face the consequences of a collision. Luckily, car insurance follows the vehicle, not the driver. However, someone else crashing your car can lead to your premium going up and having to pay a hefty deductible. Here’s what to do after someone else has an accident in your vehicle.
Call Your Insurance Company
The first step after a friend or family member causes an accident in your car is to call your insurance company. The company will tell you who your policy includes. Typically, insurance policies cover people in your household automatically, as well as friends if you give them your permission to drive the car. However, some policies have an excluded list that describes certain people the insurance company will not cover.
Depending on the circumstances of the crash, the driver’s insurance company, and the damage to your vehicle, your company will handle the situation in a variety of ways. If the driver suffered an injury in the crash, his or her own personal injury protection (PIP) policy would cover the costs. Unlike liability coverage, PIP policies cover the driver first and the vehicle second. If the driver does not have this protection under his or her policy, he or she could claim it against your own PIP coverage.
Find Out Who Will Pay for Damages
In a common scenario, where you and the driver both have car insurance, both companies may foot the bill for the accident. Your car insurance would serve as the primary coverage, and the driver’s insurance would be secondary. If the vehicle’s damages exceed the coverage limit on your policy, the driver’s insurance would step in and cover the remaining balance. Your own insurance coverage would pay for all damages if:
- The driver did not have insurance
- An excluded driver borrowed your car
- Someone stole and crashed your vehicle
Remember, if the accident wasn’t the driver’s fault, the other involved driver’s car insurance would cover damages and your personal insurance wouldn’t change. Arm yourself with information in these situations by speaking with your insurance company and finding out what your policy covers. If you don’t have the right type of coverage, you may end up paying for damages out of pocket.
Speak to an Attorney Regarding Liability Issues
When someone else crashes your car, it’s possible for victims in the accident to hold you liable for damages. While this may not seem fair, it does make sense in certain scenarios. A party may hold you responsible for injuries and property damage even if someone else was driving your car. Such a situation might include you knowingly letting an intoxicated person operate your vehicle, letting an unlicensed driver take your car, or if issues relating to the car itself caused the crash.
If, for example, the car’s badly maintained brakes failed while someone else was behind the wheel, the courts may hold you, the vehicle’s owner, responsible for a crash. Liability issues can be complex when a crash involves a vehicle owner and separate driver of the vehicle. Speak with an attorney if you believe you might end up in court regarding a car accident – whether you’re the driver or someone else was.
Prevent Similar Accidents in the Future
Dealing with car insurance companies and liability problems resulting from an excluded driver crashing your car can be a major headache. If there’s even a small possibility of a friend or family member driving your vehicle, include him or her on your insurance policy.