How does my insurance work when borrowing a car?

When wondering how insurance works when borrowing a car, it’s important to remember that insurance policies follow the car first, not the driver. If you’re in an accident when driving a borrowed car, the owner’s car insurance policy will kick in first to cover liability and damages. Your insurance will be used if the owner doesn’t carry coverage or has inadequate coverage.

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Tonya Sisler has a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of South Carolina in Journalism and has worked for 15+ years in management. She has also completed a proofreading certification and is currently a professional writer.

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Brad Larson has been in the insurance industry for more than a dozen years. He started out as a claims adjuster for a national carrier. He has since switched to the agency side of the business. Brad is licensed in all P&C lines.

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Reviewed by Brad Larsen
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Apr 1, 2021

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Things to know...

  • You are allowed to borrow a car without having to worry about having car insurance protection
  • Most standard policies are flexible and will cover someone who is given permission to borrow the coverage car
  • If you’re borrowing a car, your own insurance may provide you with liability protection if it needs to kick in
  • You’ll be covered as a permissive user under the car’s primary policy as long as you’re not a household member
  • Many times, the car’s insurer will come after the driver’s insurance to pay for a claim that was already covered

Have you always dreamed of driving your best friends drop-top convertible? You may not see the sense of buying a luxury sports car for yourself because you have small children who require all types of things like tricycles and strollers, but that doesn’t mean you can’t borrow your friend’s car to live the dream from time to time.

You can enjoy your joy ride and your friend can feel like they’ve done their good deed for the month.

Before you take your closest pal up on their offer, you have to consider how the insurance issue will pan out. You can be thick as thieves with someone and then have a major fall out because of something like an accident. Check out our FREE comparison tool above to check out the best rates for the right coverage for you today!

To prevent ruining your relationship forever, make sure that you have your insurance sorted out. Here’s what you need to know about your insurance and how it covers a borrowed car:

Can you buy temporary insurance on the vehicle?

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There are so many different areas where there’s fine print on your insurance policy. In your contract, the insurer has to be clear about what is and isn’t covered. Sometimes, the information that’s found in the booklet is so specific and so wordy that it is difficult for you to understand whether or not you’ll have coverage even when you have the answers right in front of your face.

One of the simplest sounding solutions would be to buy some sort of temporary coverage that’s suited for someone who might borrow a car. Unfortunately, it’s not your responsibility to insure the car.

When the vehicle has an owner, it’s the owner who has to buy liability insurance on the car.

You can’t by law by insurance for someone else’s car in your own name when you’re not the owner or becoming the owner.

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Does your existing insurance cover you when you borrow a car?

You might not own a convertible but that doesn’t mean you don’t own a sensible car that will get you around town. When you have your own car you’ll have your own car insurance.

That’s a good thing because your policy, as long as it’s offered by a standard insurer, will provide you with protection if you decide to borrow a car.

How does your insurance pay when you’re in a borrowed car?

If you look at your current auto ID cards or your declarations page, which are both important insurance documents, you won’t see anything about your coverage in a borrowed car. Those documents are dedicated solely to coverage on your covered autos. Just because it’s not detailed on these papers, doesn’t mean the coverage doesn’t exist.

The only place that you can find information about how you’re protected under your policy when you’re in a car that you don’t own is in the policy contract. If you don’t want to sift through all of the legalese to try and determine what’s covered and what’s not, you can ask your agent via phone or in person. Here’s a breakdown about how your coverage will generally work:

  • Bodily Injury – your third-party liability coverage will extend when you’re in a vehicle you’re borrowing and don’t own
  • Property Damage – your third-party property damage liability coverage will extend when you’re in a vehicle you’re borrowing and don’t own
  • Medical Payments – your coverage to pay for treatment and emergency expenses will pay if you’re in your own car, someone else’s car, or even when you’re a pedestrian
  • Comprehensive – your comprehensive coverage may pay if you’re borrowing a car as a substitute for your vehicle as long as you don’t own it and the owner doesn’t live in your home and you don’t have interest in the car
  • Collision – your collision coverage may pay if the car is in your custody and you’re to blame for a collision that damages the vehicle
  • Uninsured Motorist Protection – your coverage against uninsured motorist will pay for your medical bills no matter what car you’re in

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Will the other insurance cover you when you drive?

Your own insurance does afford you protection, but it’s not meant to bail the other driver out when something happens to their car. The owner of the car should never let you drive it if it’s uninsured, but it’s a scenario that does happen from time to time.

If the car is insured, the claim will be filed against the car’s policy first.

Vehicle owners are liable for damages when their cars are involved in accidents. Sure, the driver needs to be responsible and obey the law, but if an accident occurs, the victim has every right to sue the vehicle owner first. This is why the car’s insurance policy pays first and then your insurance will be activated secondary.

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What if you’re excluded from the policy?


Exclusions help policyholders keep premiums low by promising the insurer that someone won’t be operating their car. It’s most common for the driver exclusion to be written up when a driver with a bad record lives in the home.

If you used to live in the home and you’re still excluded, the primary policy won’t pay at all. In this scenario, you’d have to call your insurer to see how the claim would be handled on the other end.

Your insurance isn’t meant to be written so that you can borrow all types of cars all of the time. You have the protection, but it is always limited. You should verify how much coverage you have and also see if the owner of the car has sufficient protection.

When you’re not happy with your protection, compare online rates for a better deal and get lower rates in an instant. Use our FREE insurance comparison tool now to compare to see what the best rates are for you!

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