If you are involved in an auto accident in a borrowed car, you might wonder who should pay for the ensuing damages. Well, the general rule is that auto insurance follows the car rather than the driver. However, there are many other factors that will determine whose insurance caters for the damages. The following are some of these factors.
In any type of auto accident, the cause of the accident is the primary determinant of who should pay for the damages. This applies even to those who have accidents in borrowed cars. Therefore, if the other driver caused the accident, their insurance company should pay for all the damages emanating from the crash. The question of whether you or the owner of the car should pay for the damages only arises if you are the one liable for the crash.
Another factor is whether you are a member of the household of the owner of the car. This factor is relevant because when someone buys auto insurance coverage, it is with the understanding that the coverage extends to all members of the household. Therefore, if you are a member of the household, then the car's auto insurance policy will work just as it would if the owner of the car was the one driving it at the time of the crash.
If you are an excluded driver on the car's insurance policy, then the car's insurance company won't help you even if you are a member of the car owner's household. Some states and auto insurance companies allow drivers to exclude dangers people from their car insurance policies. In such a case, your insurance coverage (assuming you have one) should pay for the damages. If you don't have appropriate coverage, then the victims of the accident might come after your personal assets to compensate for their damages.
If you are not a member of the car owner's household, then another factor that comes to play is whether you had permission to drive the car or you 'stole' it. If you had the owner's permission, then their insurance company will come to your rescue. If you didn't have the owner's permission, then your actions will be viewed as criminal, and the car owner's policy won't help you.
Damages and Policy Limits
Lastly, the value of damages and applicable policy limits may also determine who pays for the damages. For example, even if the car owner's policy should pay for the damages, low policy limits, or expensive damages might make the compensation inadequate. In such a case, your own insurance policy will step in to take care of the shortfall.
Contact local car accident attorneys to learn more about who pays for which damages if your case seems unclear.