If a family member or friend did you a favor and lent you their automobile, you may feel guilty if you got into a motor vehicle accident—whether or not you were at fault. A borrowed vehicle adds an additional layer of questions in a car accident case as to who is responsible for compensating you for your injuries. It can certainly make life more complicated and stressful for both the owner of the vehicle and you.
Does Insurance Coverage Follow the Person or the Vehicle?
In general, insurance coverage follows the vehicle and not the person in Georgia. This means that the owner’s automobile insurance coverage would be the primary source of compensation if you were in a car accident in his vehicle, not your own automobile insurance policy. Factors that may influence whether you are covered under his policy include:
- Frequency of borrowing. If you borrow the vehicle you were driving on a regular basis, the owner’s insurance company could deny coverage, claiming that the owner should have added you as an insured on the policy.
- Household member. As with frequent borrowers, household members often must be listed as a driver on the policy in order for the insurance company to face responsibility.
- Permissive use. The owner must have given you permission to drive the car for his insurance to be primarily responsible. If you drove it without permission, it is unlikely that his insurance company or he would face liability for the crash.
What Happens If You Were at Fault in Causing the Accident?
If you were the negligent driver in a motor vehicle accident, you face liability for the victim’s losses. In addition, the owner of the vehicle faces liability as the owner of the vehicle if he lent you his vehicle. The following rules would apply to claims:
- The owner’s liability insurance coverage would be primarily responsible for compensating the victims. This includes both their property damage and personal injury claims.
- If the owner’s liability coverage is insufficient to cover your liability to the victims, your own liability insurance coverage could cover the remaining compensation you owe.
- If the owner or you had purchased MedPay insurance, it may cover your medical expenses—whether or not you were at fault. Coverage will be based on the contract language in both automobile insurance policies.
- As to the damage to the owner’s vehicle, the repair costs would only be covered under the owner’s policy if he purchased collision coverage. He would still owe his deductible and could seek reimbursement for this cost from you.
Whose Insurance Do You File a Claim With If the Other Driver Was Negligent in Causing Your Accident?
If a negligent driver caused your accident while you were driving a borrowed automobile, you would file a claim with his insurance company for your injuries. The owner of the vehicle you were driving could file a property damage claim with his own insurance company if he purchased collision coverage or the negligent driver’s insurance company if he chooses.
What happens if the negligent driver’s liability insurance coverage is insufficient to fully compensate you or he has no insurance? You may be able to file an uninsured or underinsured insurance claim under the vehicle owner’s or your auto insurance policies—if these types of insurance were purchased. Coverage would depend on the contract provisions in the insurance policies.
Insurance policies can be confusing to read and understand. An experienced car accident attorney can navigate the insurance policies and help you obtain compensation for your injuries and may be able to protect you if you were at fault in causing an accident. If you borrowed a vehicle and have questions about your legal rights and obligations after a crash, David Brauns is here to answer your questions. Fill out our online form or call our firm today at (404) 998-5252 to schedule your free consultation.