What Happens if Someone Else Crashes Your Car?

Quick Answer

If someone else crashes your car, what happens next depends on various factors. In general, your insurance company will cover the accident if the person driving had permission to use your car and caused the accident. If they didn’t cause the accident, the at-fault driver’s coverage usually kicks in.

Male Motorist In Car Crash Getting Out Of Vehicle

It may seem like a simple request when someone asks to borrow your car. But before you hand over the keys, you should consider the impact that request may have if the person gets in an accident. You and your insurance company may be on the hook for damages even though you weren't driving.

Here's what you need to know if someone else crashes your car.

What Happens if Someone Else Crashes Your Car?

If the person driving your car at the time of the crash is listed on your auto insurance policy, your insurance covers them. If they're not named on your policy, what happens next depends—in part—on whether they had a "permissive use" to drive your vehicle.

Permissive Use

Most auto insurance policies issued by reputable providers cover drivers who have permission to use your vehicle even if they're not named on your policy. This is known as permissive use. If you let your friend borrow your car, and they cause an accident, your insurance company, not theirs, will usually cover the damage. In some states, insurers may provide limited coverage if someone not named on your policy is driving.

If the person behind the wheel borrows your car frequently and you don't list them on your insurance policy, your insurer may not cover the accident. Insurance providers expect you to list all regular drivers on the policy so that they can accurately assess risk and determine your premium.

Non-Permissive Use

If someone borrows your car without your permission, their insurance company is typically responsible for covering the accident. If they don't have insurance, you may need to file a claim with your provider. You may also need to prove to your insurance company that the person didn't have permission to use your car.

Am I Liable if Someone Else Crashes My Car?

If someone has your permission to drive your vehicle, your insurance company is usually responsible for covering injuries and property damage if they're at fault in an accident. However, if you knowingly allow an irresponsible, incapable or impaired driver to get behind the wheel, you may be liable for injuries and damage they cause, depending on the laws in your state.

Additionally, you could be liable if the driver regularly borrows your car, and you don't list them on your policy. You may also be responsible for damages that exceed your policy's limits.

Does Insurance Follow the Car or the Driver?

In general, auto insurance follows the car, not the driver. What does that mean if your vehicle is involved in a crash? That depends on multiple factors, including who is at fault, the laws in your state and your insurance company's rules.

Who Pays if the Driver of Your Vehicle Is at Fault?

If you allow someone to drive your vehicle and they cause an accident, your insurance typically kicks in first. Your liability coverage pays for medical bills and property damage the driver causes to other people—up to your policy's limits. If your policy's limits aren't high enough to cover the bill, the driver's policy may provide secondary coverage, depending on the circumstances of the accident.

For example, let's say you lend your car to your best friend, and they crash into another vehicle, causing $30,000 of damage to the other car. Your property damage liability limit is $20,000. Your insurance company pays $20,000 in damage, and your friend's policy covers the additional $10,000.

But what about your vehicle? Your liability coverage won't pay for the damage to your car. If you have collision coverage, you can file a claim with your insurance company to pay for the repairs to your vehicle. But you'll be responsible for paying your deductible. If you don't have collision coverage, you'll have to cover the cost of repairs out of pocket. Since the accident involved your car, you may also get stuck paying higher insurance premiums in the future.

And even though your insurance company will likely pay the initial claim, it may try to recoup its losses and your deductible from the driver's insurance company.

Who Pays if the Driver of Your Vehicle Is Not at Fault?

If the person driving your car doesn't cause the accident, then the at-fault driver's insurance should cover the driver's injuries and damage to your vehicle. If the at-fault driver isn't insured or the cost of the accident exceeds their policy limits, you may be able to file a claim under your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage—if your policy includes this coverage.

When Should You Add Someone to Your Car Insurance?

You should add anyone who drives your car regularly to your car insurance. That includes everyone in your household with a driver's license unless you specifically list them as an excluded driver. If you explicitly exclude a driver from your policy, the insurance company won't cover them if they drive your vehicle. People who frequently drive your car, such as your nanny or adult children, should also be included, even if they don't live with you.

Insurance companies calculate premiums based on risk. They use the driving profiles of people who regularly use your car to help assess that risk. If you're not upfront about who's driving your car on a regular basis, the insurer may not cover them after a crash—even if they have permission to use your vehicle.

The Bottom Line

Insurance companies have different rules and states have different laws about what is and isn't covered when someone else is driving your car. It's best to check your insurance coverage before allowing someone to borrow your car to find out what your insurer handles claims when someone else is driving.

Even if your insurance company covers the damage, you should think twice about who you let behind the wheel. If someone else drives your car and gets in an accident, it could cost you.

While you're managing the insured drivers on your policy, it also may be wise to compare car insurance rates from various insurers to make sure you're still getting the best rate.