Whether it’s a friend in a jam or a family member visiting from out of state, drivers borrow each other’s cars all the time. But what are the implications for your insurance coverage? Here’s what to ask before letting another driver head into the sunset in your vehicle—or before driving someone else’s car.
If you’re loaning out your car, ask:
- Is the borrower licensed to drive? If they’re visiting from out of state, you don’t need to worry. If they have a driver’s license from another country, check your state’s requirements—the driver may need to apply for an International Driving Permit before he or she arrives in the U.S.
- Does the borrower have a good driving record? If they have a history of fender benders and you keep your vehicle in pristine condition, it’s OK to not hand over the keys.
- Is my insurance up to date? Every state requires a minimum level of auto insurance coverage, and some stipulate that in case of an accident, the car owner’s auto insurance—not the driver’s—provides primary coverage. (So if the driver rear-ends someone or bumps another car in a parking lot and your insurance has lapsed, you could be liable for damages.) Depending on your state’s regulations, you may also want to verify whether the driver has his or her own car insurance.
- What do they plan to use the car for? If it’s any kind of commercial activity, like driving for a ridesharing program, you’ll need to check your auto insurance policy. Again, in many states, the car owner’s auto insurance provides primary coverage. If the car is being driven for commercial purposes and you only have a personal policy, you may not have sufficient coverage.
You should also ask if they plan to drive the vehicle into Canada or Mexico. Customs officers are often on the lookout for stolen cars, so you may want to provide the driver with a letter stating they’re authorized to take yours across the border.
- Will the borrower use the car regularly? Your newly licensed teenager may phrase it as ‘borrowing’ the car, but if they’re using it to go to sports practice or the mall every weekend (and live in your household), you should add them to your insurance policy as a regular user.
If you’re the one borrowing the car, ask:
- Do I have permission to borrow the car? If not, you could run into legal trouble. In many states, if you’re a direct family member of the car’s owner, it’s assumed you have permission—but it’s still polite to ask.
- What are the regulations in the state where I’ll be driving? When you’re the one driving someone else’s car, it’s your responsibility to know the local rules of the road, from licensing requirements to speed limits and whether right turns on red are allowed. You should also check insurance requirements to make sure you’re properly covered, and be sure to ask the owner. Some states require the car owner’s insurance to cover any accidental damage, so if they’re not insured or don’t have the right coverage, as the driver you may end up being liable.
- What kind of gas should I fill up with? They were generous enough to loan you a car—the least you can do is return it with a full tank.
- Where do you keep the registration and insurance information? It’s best to be prepared, instead of rummaging in the glove compartment if something goes wrong.
- Where do you usually take the car for maintenance? Get the name and number of their mechanic shop or dealership in advance for peace of mind while you’re on the road.
- Can I eat and drink in the car? A vehicle is a personal space, so show it the same courtesy you would someone’s home.
Before you hit the road (or let someone else hit the road in your car), make sure you have the right car insurance coverage. Get a fast, free quote at geico.com and see how much you could save!
By Kristen Koch
I just got word that my Infiniti that I loaned to my very responsible friend just got totaled. I’ve been with Geico 30 years and now I’m worried I’ll be canceled because the Insurance follows the car, not the driver. My friend has a different carrier and I just hope his insurance covers the accident if only partially. I’ll never, ever do that again. It’s just not worth it.
Jeff Gradowski says,
So under my own policy, if I have a friend visiting from another state, will they be covered if they drive my car?
If my friend lives with me and he borrows the car, happens very rarely, will he still be covered? I remember as a kid if they lived in the same household and weren’t on the insurance it wouldn’t be covered, at least that’s what my mom told me. thanks.
so my girl friend bought a car off her friend, she was doing payments on the car and had no insurance so the friend left her insurance policy the same. my girl friend is paying her friend every month to have the policy intact for a couple months till she gets her own.. my question today is, is this legal? is my girlfriend insured as long as her friends insurence is valid or does she need her own asap? my girl friend has had the car for 3 months now.
Can I drive my sons car in CA? I have a Swedish drivers license and I have never been involved in an accident.
You can check with the state drivers license bureau but you will pribably need an international drivers permit
deana Deana says,
Can someone other than the financee insure the vehicle?
My boyfriend borrowed my car and was involved in a fender bender. The car he hit got back in her car and left so he left and brought me my car back. He contacted the police gave them his information, The office asked to meet up with him the next night exactly 2am. Could he go to jail when we go to meet up with them and will my insurance be responsible for any damage done to the other vehicle or can he assume responsibility?
2AM? Seems very strange to me. What ended up happening?
Larry Bryant says,
The drivers or people in Terry Town,Louisiana and Gretna,Louisiana really need to practice more and accurate traffic and road safety and obey all traffic laws…I see people driving late at night without their headlights on and running stop signs and red lights…The way people drive in these 2 place worry us and it’s kind of disturbing…Larry
Ray P. says,
To keep it simple from all this overwhelming regulations and policies .
It would be much simpler to tell your friends and relatives, specially relatives to rent a car during their visit or use public service available such as Uber.
They may not like it but you’ll have a piece of mind and your relationship could go either way.
My insurance sent me a list of relatives to exclude as drivers. These people dont live with me, over 21, & live in other states. Is this legal?
If a friend is staying with us for a month do they need temporary auto coverage to use our car to get to work?
Belen griego says,
Can i loan my car for one day to get to work
Jo gyr says,
This was a very informative article, especially for the older driver. Thank you.
Andrew Pettigrew says,
I lent my car and it got stolen because he didn’t lock the car.
what a worthless , self serving insurance company article,
I absolutely agree. The article is a perfectly USELESS waste of time.
Make the article answer questions rather than saying over and over that you have to check with the state requirements.