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The Legalities Of Lending Your Vehicle To Another Person

This article shares some great advice from Phoenix accident attorney, Aaron Crane from Cantor Crane regarding lending your vehicle to someone else.  It is commonplace to lend your vehicle to a friend, family member, or even a neighbor. While it is a nice gesture that many people do all the time, very few realize that they take on the legal liability for the actions of the other driver. There are many situations that can occur where your insurance coverage will be used to file a claim, or you can be legally liable for any damages brought on by the other party. Basically, whatever happens, or goes with your car while out of your possession, you are still responsible.

Car Insurance Basics

Each insurance policy has provisions. These provisions stipulate whether they will cover damages based on the circumstances surrounding the accident. There are variances between policies and companies, but as a general rule, anyone that lives at your address is covered when they use your car. Some policies might specifically exclude certain people in the home. Some agencies want everyone in the home to be listed on the policy, as a precaution.

If you give a driver permission to use your vehicle, typically the insurance company will cover them in an accident. The insurance policy is written to cover the vehicle and not necessarily the driver. This rule applies to both comprehensive and collision coverage. When someone drives your automobile, your insurance covers the damages due to the fact that the coverage is on the vehicle. If there is an accident, the driver of your car may or may not have their own insurance. The other company would act as a secondary insurance if your policy exceeds its limits.

When you allow someone to borrow your car, they are labeled as a permissive driver. They will be covered by your policy, but the coverage is at a reduced amount, which most people aren’t aware of. It can impact your premium payment and cause your insurance rates to increase.

Who’s At Fault

When-ever you call to file a claim with your insurance company, they will want to know who was driving the car. Additionally, if there was a police report taken at the scene, this will list the driver too. Now, the person driving the car may not have been the one at fault. If the other driver was the party who caused the incident, then their insurance would be required to pay for your car to be fixed. In this case, your insurance would not be affected. Your insurance only has to pay if the driver of your car was at fault.

Insurance Policy Information

If you did lend your car to someone and they are at fault for an accident, you need to make sure you read your policy and know the exclusions listed. If by some chance, your policy does not cover another driver, you will be legally obligated to cover the expenses. Your policy should tell you how to make a claim. If the person did not have your permission to drive the vehicle, then you will not be responsible for damages. If your vehicle was stolen, you will need to have a police report or something to back up your story, as it can be hard to prove.

If your car was used without your permission, then the driver’s insurance would be the primary insurance, and the secondary would be your policy. However, keep in mind that most insurance companies assume there was permission to use the vehicle if it is a friend, neighbor, or relative.

Negligent Entrustment

If you carelessly lent your vehicle to someone and they had an incident, your insurance company may not pay. A legal claim can arise if the person was driving drunk, being reckless, or unfit to drive the car. This can be true of allowing a teenager, who does not yet have their license, to drive also. The burden of proof is on you to prove that you did not know the driver was incompetent at the time they were permitted to drive your vehicle.

Insurance Claim Filing

If there is an incident with your car, you need to file a claim immediately. Some insurance companies have time frames for a claim to be filed. Additionally, you need to make sure you have all of the driver’s information. The insurance company may peruse collection activities from them depending on the case. As a rule of thumb, it is better to not allow those outside of the home to use your car. However, if you must lend a car to a friend, make sure to know the policy exclusions and where your coverage stands on the matter. If you find yourself in a situation where you were a victim of an accident and the person at fault was driving someone else’s vehicle or if you were driving someone else’s vehicle and was involved in an accident, call Cantor Crane today and speak with an experienced car accident lawyer to set up a free consultation. You make be entitled to compensation.

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About the Author

NY Criminal & DWI Defense attorneys at Grizopoulos & Poryz provide dedicated and compassionate legal representation for all types of criminal cases throughout New York.