Most people don't think twice about letting friends borrow their vehicles. Unfortunately, this can cause a bit of trouble if the person gets into an accident. While the insurance company will typically pay for damage caused by any driver permitted to use the vehicle, here are a couple of times when it won't and what you can do about it if you find yourself in that situation.
The Driver Was More Than a Casual User
In most states, insurance coverage follows the vehicle. Even if you're not the one driving the car when it was involved in the collision, your policy will typically still cover the wreck as long as you gave the driver permission to use your vehicle.
However, the insurance provider will only consider the claim if the driver can be classified as a casual user; meaning, the person only used your car periodically. Since insurance companies require policyholders to add anyone who uses the vehicle more than an allowed number of times per year (e.g. 12) to be added to the policy, the claim will be denied if the driver exceeds the limit and is not listed on the account as a covered party.
It may be possible to get around this issue. If your friend has auto insurance, you could file a claim with their provider and get paid that way. Another option is to challenge what constitutes a periodic user, especially if it's not clearly defined in your policy. If you can show your policy doesn't talk about periodic users or doesn't state what the limit for unlisted drivers is, you may be able to get your denial overturned on a technicality.
Generally, though, if this is a concern, it's best to contact an attorney for advice on how to respond to the insurance adjuster from the start of your claim to avoid this situation altogether.
The Driver Was Intoxicated
Another reason your claim may be denied is if the driver using your vehicle was intoxicated when the accident occurred. All insurance policies have exclusionary clauses that state unequivocally the policy will not pay for damages that result from drunk or drugged driving. So, even though you weren't the one who caused the collision, you'll still be held to that clause because it was your vehicle.
The trouble here is that your friend's insurance provider likely won't pay out either and for the same reason. Unfortunately, if that occurs, your only recourse may be to sue your friend directly for payment for the damages.
An attorney can help you decide if this is the best choice for your situation. It may not be worth the time and expense to sue your friend if that person doesn't have the money or assets to pay. The lawyer can do a financial background check on your friend and advise you about the options available based on the information they find.
For help with your car accident claims, contact a local car accident lawyer.
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