What Happens if Someone Who Isn’t on Your Insurance Crashes Your Car?

What Happens if Someone Who Isn't On Your Insurance Crashes Your Car?

Imagine a close friend comes to you and says, “Hey! My car is in the shop right now, and I need to run a quick errand. Is it okay if I take your car?” Even if it’s someone you trust, you’re probably asking yourself, “Can someone drive my car if they’re not on my insurance? What happens if someone else is driving my car and gets in an accident?” These are good questions to ask. Let’s take a closer look at what happens if someone who isn’t on your insurance crashes your car.

Understanding Auto Insurance Coverage

Insurance Follows the Car, Not the Driver

If someone else drives your car and gets into an accident, your insurance company cares more about who holds the auto policy for the vehicle rather than who was driving the vehicle when the accident occurred. 

Most auto insurance policies protect the car and the driver in the event of an accident. You can also name people other than yourself on the policy to provide additional coverage if they get injured. You might include frequent passengers or family members who drive your car from time to time.

With that said, auto policies only cover what’s outlined in your policy up to a certain dollar limit. Whether you or someone else crashes your car, you might have to pay some costs out-of-pocket if the damages exceed your policy limit. If someone else was driving your car at the time of the accident, you can file a claim with their insurance provider to cover the difference so you don’t have to pay anything out-of-pocket.

Variations Depending on Specific Insurance Policies

Coverage can vary based on the type of policy or policies you have through your insurer. Let’s take a look at your policy options.

  • Collision Coverage: This policy covers repair costs.
  • Uninsured/Underinsured Coverage: This policy covers damages if the at-fault driver either has no insurance or doesn’t have enough insurance to pay for the damages in full. This policy also compensates you in the case of a hit-and-run accident.
  • Liability Coverage: If you are liable for the damages caused in the accident and your insurer denies your initial auto claim, liability coverage will cover all accident-related costs up to the policy limit.

Exceptions for Special Circumstances

As with any rule, there are some exceptions. These are the most common ones.

Exception #1

If you let someone drive your car, this is known as permissive use. If you don’t let someone drive your car but they do anyway, this is known as non-permissive use. If that driver crashes your car without your permission to drive it, your insurance company likely won’t pay for the damages—especially if the driver wasn’t named on your policy. In this case, you should file a claim with the driver’s insurer.

Exception #2

If the driver knowingly posed a risk to others—for example, if they were driving drunk or didn’t have a valid driver’s license—your insurer likely won’t compensate you.

Exception #3

Your insurance company might deny coverage if someone who isn’t listed on your policy but frequently drives your vehicle gets in an accident. If someone else regularly uses your vehicle—such as a spouse or a child—they should be named on your auto policy.

Exception #4

If someone was texting, speeding, or otherwise breaking the law while driving your vehicle and got in an accident, your insurer could reject your claim, leaving you liable for any damages to the driver or others.

The Insurance Claim Process and Common Challenges

Steps to File a Claim

When another driver crashes your car, you should file a claim to recover compensation for medical bills, car repairs, and other damages. You can either file a claim with your insurance company, the driver’s insurance company, or both. If your insurer rejects your claim for some reason or your policy doesn’t cover all the damages, that’s when you should file a claim with the driver’s insurer. If you file a claim with the driver’s insurer, let your insurance company know.

If your car was stolen and the driver either flees the scene of the accident or is uninsured, file a claim with your insurance company.

Potential Challenges

Filing an auto accident claim under normal circumstances is complicated enough. Filing a claim when someone else was driving your vehicle at the time of the accident is even more complex. Here are some roadblocks you should anticipate when filing a claim—whether it’s with your insurer or the driver’s insurer.

  • Insurance companies operate as businesses, and businesses have to make money. The less money an insurance company allocates toward policyholders, the more profitable they are. Unfortunately, this encourages many insurers to compensate policyholders unfairly or deny claims altogether. If they have any reason to deny a claim, they probably will.
  • Even if you have coverage, you could still end up paying out-of-pocket. That’s because insurance policies have a dollar limit. Insurance does not cover any damages that exceed the limit.
  • If you frequently let someone drive your car who isn’t named on your auto policy, your insurer has every right to deny your claim, leaving you with no compensation.
  • If you file a claim with the driver’s insurer, they might:
    • Say the driver didn’t cause the accident and deny the claim.
    • Say both you and the driver share liability, forcing you to cover some of the costs.
    • Say the driver doesn’t have enough coverage to pay for all the damages.
    • Respond slowly or not at all to your calls and emails.

How Insurance Companies Evaluate Claims

Insurance companies use software programs to determine how much a claim is worth. They consider several factors, including:

  • Who is at fault
  • How severe the damages are
  • The make, model, age, and mileage of the vehicles involved
  • Where the accident occurred
  • Why the accident happened

If any injuries resulted from the accident, insurers also consider medical records, medical bills, the nature and severity of the injuries, and the amount of wages lost due to the injuries sustained.

Financial Implications and Insurance Premiums

How These Incidents Can Affect Insurance Premiums

Unfortunately, even if someone else wrecked your car, you aren’t completely off the hook. Your policy premium will likely increase, meaning your monthly payments will be higher than they were before the accident. Here’s why.

Insurance companies calculate premiums based on the risk of the policyholder and any other drivers covered by the policy. Insurers consider factors such as age, driving experience, and driving record to determine risk. Teenage drivers and drivers who have been involved in previous accidents are considered higher risk, which means their premiums will be higher than the average driver’s.

Be honest with your insurer about the driving profiles of everyone named on your auto policy so they can accurately calculate your premium. If a high-risk driver gets in an accident while driving a vehicle listed on your policy, and your insurer didn’t know they were high-risk, they could deny the claim.

The Role of Accident Forgiveness Policies

If you want to avoid a premium increase, you can get an accident forgiveness policy. Accident forgiveness is separate from your auto policy and is typically offered to long-time policyholders with a clean driving record or policyholders who meet certain criteria. If you have a high-risk driver in your family, an accident forgiveness policy will give you greater peace of mind in the event of an accident.

Depending on the circumstances surrounding the accident, either you or the driver who isn’t listed on your auto policy will be held liable for the damages caused. In some cases, both parties can be held liable. Let’s take a look at a few different scenarios:

Scenario #1

You regularly allow a family member or friend to drive your car, but they aren’t named on your auto policy. If this person gets in an accident while driving your car, your insurance company will likely deny your claim, leaving you liable for the damages. In this scenario, the next step would be to file a claim with the driver’s insurance company in hopes that they will compensate you for the damages.

Scenario #2

Someone you know who isn’t named on your auto policy drives your car without permission and wrecks it. Unfortunately, your insurer will likely deny coverage. File a claim with the driver’s insurer to seek compensation for the damages their policyholder caused.

Scenario #3

A driver who has no or not enough insurance hits your car while someone else is driving it, or a driver hits your vehicle and flees the scene—what’s called a hit and run accident. If you have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, file a claim with your insurance company. This policy will cover any damages caused by the accident.

Scenario #4

If you let someone drive your car and you knew or should have reasonably known about a risk factor—such as driving while intoxicated—you will be held liable for the damages, and your insurance company will deny your claim. In this scenario, you can try filing a claim with the driver’s insurance company.

How Liability Impacts Coverage

If you are liable for the damages, your insurance policy will serve as the primary coverage, and the driver’s insurance policy will serve as secondary coverage if the damages exceed your policy limit. If the driver is liable for the damages, their insurance policy will serve as the primary coverage, while yours will serve as secondary coverage if needed.

The Role of a Car Accident Attorney

The Importance of Consulting With an Attorney

Navigating the aftermath of any car accident is difficult. But when the person who wrecked your car isn’t covered by your auto policy, the situation gets even stickier. That’s why hiring a skilled car accident attorney is so important if you want to protect yourself from bearing the blame and covering costs out-of-pocket. Insurance companies will take every opportunity to undervalue or deny your claim, leaving you with no compensation.

Your car accident attorney will help you with your car accident case by:

  • Investigating the accident
  • Explaining your legal rights and options
  • Gathering and evaluating evidence
  • Interviewing eyewitnesses and expert witnesses
  • Filing paperwork, including your claim
  • Negotiating a fair settlement with insurance companies
  • Taking your case to court, if necessary

At Steinger, Greene & Feiner, the client always comes first. Our team will do whatever it takes to get the justice and compensation you deserve. If you have more questions about car accidents, check out our auto accident FAQs to find the answers you need.

Get Help Navigating the Complexities of Your Case

If your insurance company undervalued your claim or denied it altogether, don’t hesitate to contact Steinger, Greene & Feiner. Our car accident lawyers will fight for your right to a fair settlement. With 25+ years of experience litigating with big insurance companies, we’ll stop at nothing to achieve the results you want. Contact us today to get started with a free case evaluation.

About the Author

Michael Steinger
Michael Steinger

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MICHAEL S. STEINGER, founding partner of Steinger, Greene & Feiner, believes in representing real people, not big businesses. Since the firm’s creation in 1997, Steinger, Greene & Feiner has never represented an insurance company or large corporation, and he vows to keep this promise. Over the course of his career, Michael has handled thousands of Florida accident cases, recovering millions of dollars for his clients and earning him membership into the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum. Staying up-to-date on the ever-evolving laws protecting injury victims and their families, Michael is an active member of the American Bar Association, the Palm Beach, and St. Lucie Bar Associations, and sits on the Auto Insurance Committee of the Florida Justice Association.