If you ever loan your insured vehicle to a friend or family member, you might wonder, “What happens if someone else is driving my car and gets in an accident?” Like most things related to the law here in Utah, much depends on who was driving, the person at-fault in the car accident, and the terms of your auto insurance policy.
For instance, you have different liabilities if the accident happened after someone stole your vehicle than if you negligently loaned it to an irresponsible person.
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Utah is one of a dozen no-fault auto insurance states where a car owner must purchase a minimum of personal injury protection (PIP) insurance coverage on each vehicle in their name.
A PIP insurance policy usually will cover the following:
A Utah car accident attorney can advise whether an insurance claim is legitimate.
Regarding collision coverage in a borrowed car, there are two types of use for a borrowed vehicle when a car accident occurs.
Your own car insurance applies to drivers in the following categories:
An insurance company assumes that all of the above drivers are permissive drivers under the bodily injury liability coverage that was in force when the collision occurred.
While permissive use does cover these instances, it is not intended for someone who regularly uses your vehicle. In most cases, the driver should use it fewer than a dozen times each year and not be someone related to you who shares your home address.
Determining liability coverage is more complex when dealing with non-permissive vehicle usage. Suppose while you are out of town, your college-age nephew borrows your car without asking permission to get to class after their vehicle breaks down.
If they get into a car accident driving your car without your permission, the driver’s insurance company will have to pay out any accident costs the other driver may have. You wouldn’t be on the hook for another person’s medical bills even if the non-permissive driver was uninsured or under-insured during the motor vehicle accident.
As usual, there are applicable exceptions in cases of permissive use where your own auto insurance policy would not cover permissive users. The first exception to motor vehicle permissive use is if someone else is driving your car for business purposes.
One common example of this exception is someone who borrows your car to drive for a rideshare or meal delivery service.
The second exception to permissive use coverage of someone else’s car involves lending your vehicle to someone without a valid driver’s license or an inexperienced driver. In the circumstances involving an uninsured or unlicensed driver, your auto insurance provider could be within their rights to deny a claim.
It can be a real challenge for a vehicle owner to prove that someone did not have permission to drive their automobile when a car accident occurred. Your insurance company and the Utah civil courts tend to assume that, barring sufficient evidence to the contrary, the one driving the person’s car had permission to do so.
Most car insurance policies follow the vehicle and not the person driving it. That is true for a car insurance policy in Utah, as property damage liability coverage, collision, and comprehensive auto insurance coverage follow the car.
Both property damage and PIP are mandatory in our state, but PIP follows the driver. Your friend’s medical bills would be covered by their own PIP. In circumstances where the driver of a borrowed car injures another driver and any passengers, the vehicle owner has primary coverage.
You should exclude a certain driver from your policy and not allow them to drive your car. Your policy would not cover injuries and damages from any collision caused by an excluded driver.
People exclude drivers to keep their insurance costs lower. Reasons for exclusion include young and inexperienced drivers, those with multiple traffic violations, DUIs, or a suspended license.
If the at-fault driver of your car has liability insurance coverage, their insurance company could also be sued to supplement claims exceeding the limits of the car owners’ auto insurance policies.
Here’s how that works.
Suppose your liability car insurance policy will cover medical bills up to $50,000 before the limit is reached. If the total damages in the car crash were $75,000, the injured claimant could seek reimbursement from the secondary coverage for the friend you allowed to drive your car.
If the person driving your car has not already done so, you should immediately call the police. Failing to report an accident can get you in trouble with the law and cancel your auto insurance policy.
You will also need to inform your insurer of the accident. If you have comprehensive insurance, it should cover your vehicle repairs and the accident claim filed by third-party drivers and passengers.
Do this without delay. Inform the car accident lawyer that the person driving your car got into a wreck with someone else. A Utah personal injury lawyer can tell you what the at-fault driver’s insurance may pay if the other driver makes a claim that exceeds your auto insurance coverage limits.
You should always know and understand what your policy covers. Most of the pertinent information is found on the declaration sheet of the policy.
Read over its terms before notifying your insurer of the wreck. Even though you weren’t behind the wheel at the time of the crash, this claim goes on your insurance record and can affect future rates and coverage.
Instruct the driver if they are still at the accident scene to gather information about the other drivers and the names and numbers of potential witnesses. Ask them to take pictures of the crash scene and to note any nearby homes or businesses that might have surveillance videos of the wreck.
Encourage the friend you let drive your car to compose a brief narrative about the event, including the date, time, and weather conditions. You can later provide this to your insurance company or the other driver’s insurance company.
Your auto insurance company may drop you entirely for letting an unauthorized driver get behind the wheel. At the least, you will see an uptick in your coverage rates.
You could also face personal liability for the damage the unauthorized driver caused to others. Finally, even if there were no injured parties in the accident, you will still need to pay out of pocket the amount of the deductible on your comprehensive insurance policy to have your car repairs covered.
If you only had liability insurance, you would have to foot the whole repair bill or buy a new car if it was totaled.
Suppose someone else wrecks your car after borrowing it. In that case, your rights are best protected by seeking the counsel of an experienced Utah personal injury attorney who can guide you through the claims process without leaving you vulnerable to litigation.
When an accident is caused by someone other than yourself driving your vehicle, you want to minimize your own liability as much as possible. The reputable firm of Parker + McConkie is here to help you protect your interests after the accident.
Our law firm accepts personal injury cases on a contingency basis so that you will never have to cover expenses upfront — and never unless we recover compensation for you.
If you want a seasoned team of litigators, we encourage you to fill out our handy online form to arrange a consultation with one of our legal team members. Call our office during business hours at (801) 980-9708 to discuss your options.