Whether you’re at home for the holidays or visiting a friend, you may opt to use a family member or friend’s car to run an errand or take over driving duties. No big deal, you think. Until you run to grab a quick coffee and back out and get into a fender bender. As the coffee spills, you worry about the mess and wonder “Do I need car insurance to borrow a car?” If you’re the owner of the vehicle letting someone else drive, you want to know if your insurance covers someone else to help you navigate this situation. Read on to learn about what happens when someone borrows a car and insurance protocols to be aware of.
Does insurance cover someone borrowing your car?
“Does insurance cover someone borrowing your car?” is a common question that people have. Whether you’re allowing a friend to borrow your car or the borrower of a friend’s car, the general rule of thumb is that a car insurance policy is associated with the car, not the driver.
Therefore, if a friend borrows your car, they’re likely covered by your insurance policy. It’s best to check with your insurance provider to see what and who is covered.
If you’re not at fault, liability coverage may not be as helpful in an accident as collision coverage. If you’re curious whether insurance covers someone borrowing your car or if you need car insurance to borrow a car, it’s best to go directly to the source as policies vary by insurer and state.
Does my car insurance cover me while driving someone else’s vehicle?
If you borrow someone’s car, you would typically be covered under their car insurance policy up to the policy limits they chose. This is what’s known as “permissive use.”
So if you borrow a friend’s car and wonder about insurance, your friend’s policy would be primarily responsible if you get into an accident while driving their car as car insurance generally follows the car and not the driver.
It’s important to note that this counts for irregular and infrequent borrowing. For example, if you’re home for the holidays, you’d typically be covered when you drive your mom’s car. But if you moved back home for an extended period during the pandemic, then your parents might need to add you to their insurance policy.
If someone who is not a Metromile customer drives my car, are they covered?
Metromile insurance follows your car. So if you’re worried if insurance covers someone borrowing your car, with Metromile it does.
So if you’re a Metromile customer and you let your friend borrow your car, they would be covered if they get into an accident, subject to the policy terms and conditions.
Unfortunately, this also means that even if you have a spotless driving record, your friend’s accident could increase your insurance costs going forward. Keep in mind: Metromile is pay-per-mile auto insurance. You’ll need to pay for any miles they drive in your car.
What happens if I’m renting a car?
Your Metromile insurance policy typically extends to rental cars. So if you’re renting a car for a trip and you get into an accident, we might be able to help. But you should check your policy before driving the car off the lot to make sure you understand your coverage and have the policy limits that make sense for your budget.
What about my mom, dad, sibling, or roommate’s car?
Usually, driving-age family members who live together should all be on the same insurance policy, making it just fine to swap cars. If not, they should be formally excluded from each other’s policies; importantly, a driver is generally not covered by a policy they’re excluded from, meaning you should never loan your car to someone you’ve excluded.
Roommates who aren’t direct family members can fall in a gray area; it’s a good idea to check with your insurance carrier about what’s allowed, but usually, you’ll want your roommate to either be listed on your policy if they have regular access to your vehicle and drive it occasionally.
What is primary vs. secondary auto insurance coverage?
When claims get complicated, insurance companies spend time working out who is primarily responsible — that is, taking point on paying out damages — and secondarily responsible, or kicking in only when the primary coverage is exhausted.
If you give someone permission to drive your vehicle, your car insurance usually takes primary coverage status. If damage exceeds your coverage limits, the driver’s policy may take over as secondary.
Am I covered if I’m using a borrowed car for business?
Here’s where things get sticky. Commercial policies cover some vehicles for business use, but it gets complicated when a car is borrowed or swapped around for a use that’s out of the ordinary, or if a personal vehicle is used for a delivery or transportation service, such as a local laundry delivery or an app-based service like Amazon, Doordash, Lyft, or Uber.
There are lots of ins and outs and exclusions when it comes to commercial use, so it’s worth doing your homework before borrowing a car in a situation like this.
Metromile provides personal auto insurance coverage for low-mileage drivers and does not cover vehicles used for work, including food delivery, package delivery, or ride-sharing.
The bottom line
If you’re thinking “Do I need car insurance to borrow a car?” now you know that when you borrow a car, insurance coverage is based on the policyholder of the vehicle. So if you borrow a car, you may be covered by the owner’s policy. If you allow a friend to borrow your car, they’d likely be covered by your policy. Get in touch with your provider if you have specific questions about what’s covered. Plus, you could pay less for auto insurance if you don’t drive your car often.
You can see if Metromile is right for you with Ride Along™. Download the Metromile app to get started. After you get a free auto insurance quote, you’ll keep your current coverage and drive as you do ordinarily for about two weeks. Then, Metromile will show you how much you could save with an accurate rate based on your actual driving. Why pay more, when you can pay less for driving less? Get your free quote.