Friends regularly let one another borrow vehicles, but they frequently don’t know how this impacts their car insurance. While many assume that insurance remains in place when someone else drives their car (and this is often the case), it’s good to know exactly what risk you are and aren’t taking when a friend drives your car in New Hampshire.
Is My Car Covered by Car Insurance If My Friend Drives It?
Permissive Use vs. Non-Permissive Use
Whether your car remains covered when a friend drives it first depends on whether the friend has permission to use your car. Permissive use means that the friend does have permission, and non-permissive use means they don’t. Permission may be explicitly or implicitly given in certain situations, although implicit permission can be highly circumstantial.
Your Friend Uses the Vehicle With Permissive Use
Assuming your friend has permissive use of the vehicle, your car is likely fully covered by your car insurance policy. Your policy’s coverages probably will remain in full effect as the primary coverages while your friend drives, and any auto liability coverage they have will most likely serve as secondary liability protection. (Most drivers in New Hampshire have auto liability coverage, but remember that coverage isn’t legally mandated, and your friend might not be insured.)
While coverage usually remains in place during a permissive use situation, there are a few issues that could jeopardize whether your car is covered. Your policy might not provide coverage if you know that your friend:
- Doesn't have a valid driver’s license
- Drives under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Is already listed as an excluded driver on the policy
- Uses the vehicle for an extended period of time
If your friend uses the vehicle for an extended period of time, whether your coverage remains in effect depends on your policy’s terms. Most policies will permit temporary or occasional use, but prolonged use might be excluded. This is something that an insurance agent who specializes in auto insurance can help you check if it’s a relevant concern.
If any of these are true and you’re unaware, your friend may be held liable for any accident they cause. They might be sued for injuries to others in the car, people in other cars, damage to other people’s property, or even damage to your car.
Your Friend Uses the Vehicle With Non-Permissive Use
In the unlikely event that your friend takes the vehicle without your permission, your auto insurance policy will treat this situation differently. Essentially, the policy will probably treat any claim that arises while your friend is driving without permission as if your car were stolen.
Should your friend cause an accident, your own auto insurance policy will likely cover damage to the vehicle if you have comprehensive coverage. Comprehensive coverage usually protects against theft, reimbursing you for damage subject to the coverage’s deductible and limits. You can likely expect to receive compensation from your insurer, and have the insurer go after your friend to recoup that claim payment.
Any property damage or injuries that occur to others in an accident will probably be the responsibility of your friend and not you since you weren’t aware that your friend was driving. In order to keep liability limited to your friend, however, you might be required to file a police report against them.
Evaluate Your Car Insurance With a New Hampshire Agent
While these are general guidelines on how insurance will play out when your friend drives your car, policies and situations can vary. To fully understand the dynamics of this type of situation, talk with a New Hampshire insurance agent at HPM Insurance about your situation. Our independent agents can review your policy and explain how coverage should be impacted by various scenarios. They can also help you find a new car insurance policy if more robust coverage is needed.