If I let my Mother in Law borrow my car, is she insured?

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The Problem

Soooo, your mother-in-law needs to run to the airport. Or, your brother needs to borrow your pickup to haul his new big-screen television. They all say they will return your vehicle in an hour.

You may not realize it….But you may be creating a HUGE Problem for yourself.    As an auto insurance policyholder, if you let someone not listed as a driver on your policy drive your vehicle, you could be setting yourself up for an expensive headache.

Sooo…You lend your vehicle….Then, the next thing you know your brother or your mother-in-law is involved in a fender-bender. Or, your brother is rear-ended, your pickup and his new TV damaged. The headache that’s developing is called a lending loss.

Insurance Speak

Your insurance company considers that your act of Lending is giving permission to someone not listed as a driver on your auto insurance policy to drive your vehicle.  Your underwriting of your  insurance policy for acceptance and premium rates has been based upon the driver details, violations and accident history as established by your application and DMV reports.  Lending creates an unknown exposure.  You typically have a driver with unknown driving record and experience behind the wheel of an unfamiliar vehicle.  Research has shown that borrowed cars have a much higher probability of getting into an accident.  Think about it…when you get behind the wheel of an unknown vehicle, it takes time to become proficient and comfortable.  Many drivers who borrow do so because they don’t own a car and don’t have auto insurance.   Insurance carriers discourage “lending” and consider it a reflection on your driving decisions.  If someone drives your car often, they should be added to your policy to avoid the “lending” issue.

The policyholder — and owner of the vehicle — is “primary.” That means he will be liable for anything the driver does to or in the vehicle — legal or otherwise.  Soooo….someone else’s accident could cause you to LOSE your coverage, lose your preferred rate, or worse expose your asset because the loss was greater that your coverage limits. In most states, if you loan your vehicle and then the borrower loans the vehicle to someone else who then gets into an accident, you the policyholder may still be at fault.

Tell the Family

Always remember this about lending your car or truck: Insurance follows your vehicle, but insurance responsibility usually follows the policyholder. Be sure to have this discussion with your driving-age children.

Your teens generally have no idea that it’s not OK to lend the car or let someone else drive.  We even see a few parents who casually hand over their car keys to their kids’ friends.  Bad idea.

The best advise is to never be a lender or a borrower.

Need Insurance advice…Call SWFL Insurance Agency at 239-265-9577 or email info@swflagency.com.

See more about this subject at Who is an insured under your Auto and Homeowners policies?