You know the drill: Your teenager missed the school bus this morning, or maybe your neighbor’s car won’t start, and they’re late for work, or Aunt Helen is in town for the weekend and wants to visit some old friends. You hand over the keys to your car and get back to your day, happy in the knowledge that you were able to help a friend or family member.
Then, you get the dreaded phone call. There was black ice, or someone ran the light, or the car in front of them on the freeway just stopped without warning. Now you start to worry, asking yourself, “What happens if someone who’s not on my insurance crashes my car?” Do you know what to say when your panicked borrower is on the line, sitting in the middle of an intersection, peppering you with questions?
In this post, we’ll take a look at what typical auto insurance policy coverage may or may not cover the claims process and some possible consequences that can arise when someone who isn’t on your insurance crashes your car. We’ll also discuss how retaining a qualified Baltimore car accident lawyer or personal injury attorney can help ensure that you’re fairly protected and compensated for your property, recovery, and well-being.
So, if you’re not sure what happens if someone who isn’t on your insurance crashes your car, read on!
Car Insurance Coverage and Responsibility
When it comes to car insurance, many people have no idea what happens if someone who isn’t on their insurance crashes their car. This is a serious situation to consider, as it can directly affect your ongoing coverage, as well as financial responsibility in such situations.
It’s important to note that, in general, car insurance follows the car rather than the driver. This means that if a friend or someone else crashes your car, your insurance will typically cover the damages.
Collision, Liability, and Comprehensive Coverage
Let’s consider a scenario where your friend causes an accident with minimal damage to only your car. Again, in most cases, your insurance will pay for the damages as long as you have collision coverage.
However, if your friend causes an accident with a lot of damage to others – people or property – your liability coverage will kick in and cover those damages. This is why it’s important to understand and have the appropriate coverage for your specific needs.
Even if the accident is covered by the borrower’s policy, that insurance would be considered secondary coverage, to be accessed only if your insurance limits are exceeded. And, if the damages exceed both policy limits, you’re likely going to have to pay the remaining costs out of pocket.
Questions That Need Answers
If someone who isn’t on your insurance is involved in an accident with your car, there are some questions you’ll need to ask:
- First, do they have a current, valid (not suspended or revoked) driver’s license?
- Does the driver have their own auto insurance policy coverage, and does it include comprehensive coverage or is it liability-only?
- Does their insurance include only vehicles listed on their policy, or does it cover the driver regardless of vehicle ownership?
These are good questions to ask before you toss your keys to Aunt Helen or anyone who’s not already covered by your insurance.
What About Licensed Drivers Living in Your Home?
Can your insurer deny a claim for damage to a policyholder’s vehicle for accidents involving a licensed driver? Even if that driver lives in the policyholder’s home but isn’t listed on the policy? The Maryland Insurance Administration (MIA), the state agency that regulates insurance in Maryland, is a bit hazy on that.
Here is some information about licensed drivers in your household from an MIA consumer advisory publication:
- Insurance companies can deny claims for various reasons, including policy exclusions, insufficient evidence, or disputes over liability. Being well-prepared and seeking professional assistance can increase your chances of having your claim approved.
- Auto policies may contain language that excludes collision or comprehensive damage coverage involving a claim where a licensed driver who is a resident of your home has not been disclosed to your insurer, even if the driver has your permission to drive your vehicle.
- While your policy generally provides liability coverage for you and any driver that is not specifically excluded, your policy’s collision and comprehensive coverage may not be available if an accident occurs involving an undisclosed driver who is living in your home, even when the driver has a reasonable belief they are permitted to use your vehicle.
The MIA also recommends that policyholders contact their insurer if they have any questions about other licensed drivers living in their home.
If you feel that your insurer or insurance producer is improperly denying or delaying payment of all or portions of a claim or terminating your insurance policy without good reason, you have the right to file a complaint with the Maryland Insurance Administration, which an attorney from Belsky & Horowitz, LLC will help you with.
Consequences if Someone Who Isn’t on Your Insurance Wrecks Your Car
If either your insurance company or the other driver’s insurance refuses to cover the incident, some less-than-ideal consequences can follow, including:
- You may be financially responsible, in full or in part, for the cost of damages, legal fees, or any other related expenses.
- Depending on the circumstances and your insurance company’s policies, filing a claim for an accident caused by someone not on your insurance may lead to an increase in your premiums.
- Your insurance provider may cancel your policy (again, based on individual clauses).
- Legal actions may be taken against you, as the vehicle owner, as well as the driver.
What Can I Do to Protect Myself?
First and foremost, you should be proactive.
Don’t wait until an accident happens to find out if you’re covered. Contact your insurance agent and have them show you what your policy does or doesn’t cover regarding car accidents involving drivers that are not listed on your policy.
Accidents happen, and when someone else is driving your car when one does, it’s essential to know how to best approach the situation. Remember:
- Always exercise caution when lending your vehicle to others
- Review and understand your insurance policy
- Consider adding additional coverage if needed
- If anything seems unclear or questionable, seek professional assistance
An attorney or law firm specializing in insurance and personal injury can determine exactly what your policy should cover based on its exact wording, as well as the effect of any other laws or statutes related to your specific situation.
In short, they know the law, and they can hold your insurance company to it.
Belsky & Horowitz, LLC – We’re Here to Fight for You!
Being well-informed about your insurance coverage and local laws relevant to it can help you make informed decisions and more effectively handle an unexpected car accident. If the accident has already happened and your insurer (or theirs) claims no responsibility, your best course of action is to contact a legal professional.
Remember, every insurance policy and situation is unique, so consulting with a qualified auto accident attorney from Belsky & Horowitz, LLC, as well as your insurance provider, for personalized guidance is a prudent step in safeguarding your interests.