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Friday, October 17, 2014

What happens if you get in an accident while driving someone else's car?

Uninsured versus insured drivers
State insurance requirements often include coverage for secondary drivers

 By Ray Donato

Getting into an accident can be one of the most traumatic and horrifying experiences you have.  Getting into an accident while driving someone else’s car makes it worse.  The insurance industry is highly regulated by statutes at the state level and has particular laws that govern how insurance is applied to any situation.  If you are aware of the specific rules as they apply to an accident your ability to manage a crisis and make sure you are protected.

Generally speaking

In a very broad sense, if you find yourself behind the wheel of a car you do not own and end up in an accident, you can breathe easy.  While you may have to answer to a friend or boss, your coverage in several states including Florida is going to be nearly the same as if you were driving your own vehicle.  The basic coverage minimum in Florida requires every street legal automobile that is going to hit the roads to have a minimum coverage of $10,000.00 personal injury protection and $10,000.00 in property damage liability.  Regardless of who caused the accident, the coverage will take effect. 

If you have your automobile with your insurance, there is going to be a behind the scenes battle between insurance companies to discern who will be paying the bill.  Driver’s policies follow them regardless of the vehicle they drive unless there is a specific rider that requires them to drive their car.  The same rules will apply for any passengers in your vehicle while driving someone else’s car as if it were your own.  If there is a variance in your coverage or the coverage of the owner of the vehicle there will likely be a mediation, arbitration, or judicial determination to settle the claim.  Regardless of the decision, the coverage will apply.  The question will ultimately be which carrier pays for it.

What to do

If you do find yourself in an accident be prepared.  Know what the coverage you have and how it will interact with the law if you drive someone else’s car.  Your insurance company will have a set protocol for you to follow when you have an accident driving your car.  Since your coverage extends to all vehicles you drive, unless specifically excluded, you will still need to follow the protocols as if you were driving your vehicle.  Be very aware of your liabilities in an accident and be wise in how you handle the circumstances.  Reporting the accident and making a statement while driving someone else’s car are equally as important as when you damage your own.  The best advice is to treat the accident in the borrowed automobile as if it were your own since the liability is similar.

The differences to be aware of

It is not a good idea to get too comfortable with the idea that driving someone else’s car is an equal risk to driving your own because it is not.  There are limits to coverage by insurance, and it does not require very much damage to hit the caps of coverage.  When you drive someone else’s car, you open yourself up to the additional costs of their car and assume liability to them for their transportation to work.  The best idea is to drive your car whenever possible and to let someone else drive you when your vehicle will not get the job done.

As with anything you do, be careful always to know your rights and legal protections.  The insurance company is a business like any other organization, and will look out for its interests.  While you may have to call your insurance company and the insurance company of the vehicle you are driving, you may want to consider calling an insurance consultant or attorney before you do anything when deciding what type of coverage to get for yourself.  Insurance should not be a box you check off on a to do list.  It is your protection against the costs of an accident.  Having the wrong coverage is as bad as not having any coverage at all.  Make sure to ask penetrating questions of your insurance provider and get the coverage you need. For a good insurance plan that will treat you right, I recommend looking at http://insuranceland.org.

About the author: Ray Donato, is a freelance writer who lacks his own transportation at this time, and so often borrows friends' vehicles in order to get around. He has taken the time to learn what applies in his case and what does not so he can be prepared and will never leave his friends hanging. If you wish to learn more about Ray you can visit on Google+.


Image: License:  W. Robert Howell, "Car Accident"; CC BY-SA 2.0