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Does Auto Insurance Cover You in Someone Else's Car?

Having auto insurance is a legal mandate in most states. However, according to data, about 12.6% of U.S. drivers don't have auto insurance.

But they're not the only ones at risk in case of an accident.

Most drivers are unsure how much protection they have when driving someone else's car. Typically, auto insurance covers the vehicle. However, you can also be covered in someone else's car if they have permissive insurance with you listed as a driver, or their insurance cover can foot the cost of the claims.

Here's all you need to know about auto insurance and how much it covers you when behind the wheel of a borrowed vehicle.

Who is Covered by Auto Insurance?

Auto insurance typically includes a set of coverage types that protect you and your vehicle from various situations while driving. The complete coverage depends on the policy you choose and the additional covers you may add.

But generally, these protections follow your vehicle whether you're the one behind the wheel or not.

However, there are instances that auto insurance will also follow the owner, covering a car that's not listed in their policy. It's vital to know when this is the case to assess the best circumstances for borrowing a car and be confident that you'll have full insurance coverage.

Permissive Vs. Non-Permissive Use

Most auto insurance policies define two usages that determine the extent of coverage under your car insurance policy or that of the person whose car you're driving. These are permissive and non-permissive use.

Permissive Use

Most auto insurance policies will cover drivers listed on the policy to who you've permitted to drive your car. Therefore, in the event of an accident, your policy will kick in if you let them operate your vehicle.

In some states, permissive use may come with reduced coverage. Therefore, you should consult an expert to determine your coverage extent under these circumstances.

Non-Permissive Use

If a friend, family member, or relative drives your car and gets involved in an accident without your permission, you may not be liable for the damages caused. Their insurance will be the primary coverage.

The same applies if you, without permission, drive someone else's car. Your auto insurance will be the primary coverage.

However, if the driver doesn't have insurance, the car owner may have to file a claim with their insurance company to help cover the accident, especially damages to their vehicle.

Ensure you've read your policy's terms and conditions or talk to your agent to determine the extent of coverage under non-permissive use in your state.

Other Times Insurance Follows the Driver Over the Vehicle

Some auto insurance policies may also extend protections to you directly when driving someone else's car outside the scope of permissive and non-permissive use.

For instance, depending on the policy's language, your auto insurance may extend liability coverage if you've rented a vehicle.

Car insurance may also follow the driver if the coverage limits of the person lending the car have been exceeded. Your policy, as the borrower, will be used to cover the excess costs. However, this primarily applies only if your coverage limits exceed the lender's.

Your auto insurance policy may also cover personal injuries or medical expenses on your part caused by an accident when driving a borrowed car.

How Will Different Coverages Apply When Driving Someone Else's Car?

Different coverages apply differently when you get involved in an accident driving someone else's car. Here's how the most common types work.

Note that most of them assume that you had permission to drive the car.

Comprehensive and Collision

These two coverages will work normally, with the car owner's insurance typically paying out for the damages to the vehicle.

Roadside Assistance and Rental Reimbursement

The car owner's insurance policy will take care of any roadside assistance costs and reimburse them for car rental costs if the vehicle has to stay at the shop for a while for repairs.

Med Pay/Personal Injury Protection

These coverages will cover you just as they would the car's owner if they were driving their car and got involved in an at-fault accident.


This is the most significant coverage in any auto insurance policy. It typically follows the car, meaning the car owner's policy will pay out in case of an accident. However, the extent of the coverage can change based on factors such as recklessness or negligence.

The car owner's insurance company may pass the claim to your insurance company if it makes more sense or the limits of the car owner's policy have been reached.

Additional Coverages That May Be Needed If You Rent a Car

Typically, all the coverages of your personal auto insurance policy extend to a vehicle you rent, as long as it's in the same class. However, things change when the car rented is in a different class from the insured vehicle.

For instance, if your cover provides protection only for personal use vehicles, renting a commercial vehicle such as a moving truck fails to extend your coverage to physical damages caused on the vehicle in the case of an accident.

For this reason, most rental companies introduce additional coverages that apply whether you rent the car in the state or across state lines.

The three main types of coverage a rental company will offer include:

Loss Damage Waiver

This waiver grants you immunity against any damages caused to the rental car. If you opt into this waiver, the rental company will pay for damages to the rental vehicle without digging into your Comprehensive and Collision coverage, for which you'll have to pay a deductible.

If you're renting a car without Comprehensive and Collision coverage, you should consider opting into this waiver to avoid hefty out-of-pocket costs to repair the damaged rental vehicle.

Extended Liability

This cover offers extended liability in addition to the liability coverage in your current auto insurance policy. You should opt-in to this policy if you want to have enough funds to pay for any property damage or bodily injuries you may inflict on a third party in case of an accident with the rental car.

Personal Injury Coverage

This cover carries over from your policy if you have Personal Injury Protection or Med Pay. You can opt in if you want extra coverage. Some states offer cover for personal injury only, while others only cater to medical payments.

Get Comprehensive Auto Insurance from a Trusted Provider

Your auto insurance will help a great deal to offer you protection when driving a borrowed or rented car. Get in touch with a trusted provider today and learn how much protection you can get within your state.


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