Am I covered if I get in a crash in my friend's car?

How do you know if you're insured if you get in a crash in a friend's car? We'll tell you how to protect yourself.

Am I covered if I get in a crash in my friend's car?

You borrowed your friend’s car to go to a concert out of town with some friends. Unfortunately, you were still bopping to the beat on the way out of the parking lot and didn’t see the brake lights on the car in front of you before you rear-ended it. Oops. Now you’re wondering if you’re covered by any insurance.

Your friend’s auto insurance will likely cover the accident as long as you got permission AND they’re current on payments, but you may still be liable for some costs. If you want to insure your driving for any borrowed car, a non-owned auto insurance policy like that available through Surround’s starter pack will cover you when you borrow or rent a car.

If I Have Auto Insurance, Will it Cover Me?

If you borrowed your friend’s car on the sly and didn’t get their permission, then your own auto insurance would cover you for the accident. Which is an empty victory because your premium will probably go up and your friend is probably going to be pretty peeved when they find out.

If you did get your friend’s permission to drive their car, then the accident will be covered under their insurance. Which again, isn’t ideal because now their premium will go up and they’ll probably still be steamed that you caused an accident in their car. Note to self: sign up for defensive driving course and always put away the phone when driving! And quit bopping.

What If I Don’t Have Insurance?

Normally, car insurance follows the car. If you cause an accident and you don’t have your own auto insurance, your friend’s insurance will cover you. Whew! But here are some things to think about.

First, if you were using your friend’s car for commercial purposes, like shuttling people to the concert as an Uber driver, then you’re absolutely not covered by your friend’s personal insurance.

Photo of someone trying to figure how to pay for expensive car repairs.
Credit: Sharon McCutcheon via Unsplash

Second, if your friend paid their bill late, there may have been no coverage in force at the time of the accident. Oh, snap! If this was the case, you could be responsible for paying for any medical and vehicle repair bills for the other driver out of your own pocket. You would also be responsible for paying to fix any damage to your friend's vehicle. Ouch.

Next, it’s possible that there was coverage in place, but the damage you caused exceeded the limits on your friend’s policy. In that case you and possibly your friend (depending on what state you live in) are responsible for the cost of any injuries or damages beyond the dollar limit of what the policy covers. Ouch, ouch.

Also, you should be prepared to pay the deductible. While legally you may not be required to pay the deductible unless your friend sues you and wins, do you really want to drag the whole mess out? The deductible could be anywhere from $500 to $2,500 depending on your friend’s policy. As a good friend and responsible adult, you should fork over the money to repair your friend’s vehicle. Ouch3.

Finally, If you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol during the crash, or you don't have a valid driver’s license, or you drive your friend’s car regularly but aren’t listed on the policy as a driver, the insurance company may deny the claim. In that case, you are responsible for paying for all the medical claims for any injuries, and to fix all the damages to the vehicle(s) out of your own pocket. That’s right, ALL the costs. You could also find yourself in the courtroom facing a lawsuit if you aren’t able to pay these costs. OuchOuch.

Photo of a cracked windshield.
Credit: Umberto via Unsplash

The upshot is that you should always ask permission to borrow your friend’s vehicle. Check to make sure that their policy is paid up, and that you know the deductible and coverage limits.

Being Responsible Doesn't Have to Be Difficult

We all wish we had a fairy godmother who could wave her magic wand and make life easier. It would be even better if the fairy godmother could turn back time and undo the accident you caused. While we don't have a magic wand, we are on a mission to help you understand how insurance works, and to change the way you think about insurance.

Photo of someone buying Surround Insurance on their cellphone.
Did you know that there’s a type of auto insurance for people who don’t own cars? Non-owned auto insurance coverage includes property damage liability, bodily injury liability, and sometimes uninsured/ underinsured motorist coverage for when you’re driving a car that you don’t own.

So while it won’t cover your friend’s car while you’re driving it, you will be protected for any injuries you cause as well as damages to other cars.

Imagine just having the coverage you need every time you rent or borrow a car, whether that’s from your friend or a car-sharing service, without worrying what will happen if you are in an accident? Check out our guide to non owner auto insurance to learn more about your options.  

This is general information based on questions our customers ask us. It may not be right for your specific situation. You should get some advice from a licensed insurance agent (like us!) before you make a decision on your own insurance.