When it comes to car insurance, figuring out when you are and aren’t covered by your auto insurance can be confusing. One of the biggest questions Californians have about auto insurance is whether the insurance covers the person driving the vehicle or whether it sticks with the car(s) listed on the policy. As with most car insurance-related questions, the answer can be complicated. This blog will go over whether insurance follows the car or the driver in California.
Does Insurance Follow the Car or the Driver in California?
There is no single answer to this question; however, in most cases, car insurance tends to follow the car it covers rather than the driver. If you let someone else drive your car and they get in an accident, your insurance company would likely be responsible for paying the claim, depending on the coverages in your policy.
What Happens When Someone Gets in an Accident in my Car?
If someone borrows your car, they are, in a way, borrowing your car insurance as well. This is the case if they’re driving your car with permission. People who drive your car with permission as called permissive drivers. Whenever someone is driving your car with your permission, your car insurance will be primary. This means that if the permissive driver gets in an accident, your car insurance will cover the damage in much the same way as though you were driving it. Your liability coverage will pay for the damage of injuries they caused to someone else, and your collision coverage would pay for the damage to your vehicle from the accident. However, there are some exceptions to this. Your insurance may not cover the damage from an accident of a permissive driver if they:
- Don’t have a driver’s license
- Drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol
Non-Permissive Use and Excluded Drivers
If someone borrows your car without your permission and causes an accident, then they would be liable for the damage. However, non-permissive use can be hard to prove to your insurance provider. If someone is listed as an excluded driver on your policy, then they’re expressly excluded from your car insurance. This means that if that person drives your car, your insurance will not cover any damage that takes place.
When Does Insurance Follow the Driver?
As we mentioned above, car insurance typically follows the car, but this is not always the case. There are some cases where certain types of coverages follow the driver. When a driver borrows a car and causes an accident, the car’s owner’s car insurance is the primary insurance, but if the driver has their own insurance as well, then it will serve as the secondary coverage. So, if the damage caused exceeds the limits of the owner’s liability coverage, then the driver’s own liability insurance would cover the rest of the costs. We recommend not lending your car to someone who doesn’t have car insurance of their own because if they cause an accident in your car, then you would be liable for the costs that exceed your coverage limit.
You should never assume your insurance will cover the accident and any damage. For example, some policies don’t even cover relatives living in your home, unless they are specifically named on your policy. Other policies may provide coverage, but on a more limited basis. Everyone’s policy is different, and you’ll have to look into it before assuming that it will cover certain situations. In California, insurance typically follows the car, however not all cases are the same.
If you’re planning to lend your car to a family member or friend, or borrow one from someone else, remember that it’s wise to review both of your insurance policies first. The answer to whether insurance follows the car or the driver isn’t going to be universally the same for every driver. As long as a driver has the vehicle owner’s permission to operate the vehicle, the owner’s policy will provide coverage no matter who the driver is. The vehicle owner’s policy should cover injuries and property damage. Exceptions always exist, which is why it’s important to go over them with an expert. We hope this blog helped you get a better understanding of this topic. If you want to learn more, feel free to contact Bonnici Law Group. Call us at (619) 259-5199 or click here to schedule a free consultation.