“Hey, I have to go pickup a new couch – Can I borrow your truck?”

We’ve all been there- your friend asks to borrow your car for weekend or use your truck to make a dump run and you are concerned. Will your Insurance policy extend to cover them while they use it?

Fortunately, almost all insurance carriers in Washington state have a permissive use clause that allows coverage to extend to other people while they are driving your vehicle.

There are however, a few key instances where coverage may not extend-

  • If they do not have a valid Driver’s License. Plain and simple, if they don’t have a license, don’t let them drive your vehicle. Licenses from other states are generally ok. International Licenses may or may not be ok depending on your policy so please be sure to check with your agent before you allow someone with an International License to drive your car.
  • Age restrictions– If you are planning to lend your vehicle to someone under the age of 21, check with your insurance agent to make sure there will be no coverage issues. Some carriers have age restrictions, others do not.
  • They are currently living with you. Insurance companies pay out many millions of dollars every year for losses caused by household members not listed on the owner’s policy. To help curtail those losses, Insurance companies have started to put restrictive clauses in their policies that allow then to deny coverage if the loss was caused by a household member not listed as a driver on the policy. Keep in mind this is an insurance companies definition of household member, that definition may vary from your view. It is important to ask your agent for specific details.
  • You let them use the vehicle on a regular basis Even if they don’t live in the household, your insurance company may require them to be listed on the policy if they borrow your car regularly. Check with your agent regarding your specific scenario.

What happens to my policy if my friend gets a ticket or gets into an accident while borrowing my car?

  • If your friend gets a ticket in your car that generally won’t come back on you because the ticket will go on your friends record, not yours. It would be wise though to make sure you have a current insurance ID card and registration in your glove box before you let them drive.
  • If your friend gets an in accident while driving your vehicle, that really could have a big effect on your policy. If the accident was deemed to be not their fault then the impact would likely be minimal. If however, they were at-fault in an accident, that will almost certainly cause your premium to increase because your insurance company paid out the claim on your behalf.
  • If your friend lives with you or has regular access to your vehicle, your insurance company may also require that you either add your friend to your policy as a driver or exclude them from further coverage.

The bottom line

  • Be careful who you let drive your vehicle.
  • Make sure they meet the criteria above and call your insurance agent if you aren’t sure what to do. Even if you know your coverage will extend, you still have to decide whether it’s worth the risk to allow them to drive your car.
  • If they get into a bad enough accident and your policy liability limits are exceeded, you may be sued and held liable for damages to the injured party.

My personal rule of thumb- if I would not trust the person to drive my kids to school, I’m not letting them drive my car.

By: Ryan Stueber – PNW Insurance Group