Loaning out your car to a friend or family member can be a generous thing to do as the vehicle’s owner. Unfortunately, the recipient could reward your generosity with a liability risk – such as crashing your car or running a red light. It is important to understand all the possible legal risks that can come from someone else driving your car before you say yes or no. That way, you can make an informed decision and prepare for all possible outcomes.
Auto Insurance Risks
Liability auto insurance is linked to you as a driver, not to your vehicle. Your mandatory bodily injury and property damage liability insurance, therefore, will stick with you and other covered drivers on your policy even if you are operating someone else’s car. It might not extend to someone not listed on your policy who drives your vehicle, however. Collision and comprehensive insurance, on the other hand, stay with your vehicle. These types of insurance could cover your vehicle repairs no matter who was behind the wheel. The State of Texas does not require collision or comprehensive insurance. It only requires liability car insurance.
If someone else crashes your car, your insurance company may make it difficult to recover benefits. You might only qualify for insurance benefits if the person you let borrow your car was listed as an additional driver on your policy, such as a spouse or teen in your household. The rules differ from insurer to insurer. If the driver was not on your policy, his or her own insurance may pay for damages instead.
If you let someone uninsured drive your vehicle, you could be out of luck if that person crashes your car. Your insurance carrier might deny benefits since the person was not a covered driver, depending on the circumstances. Your insurer could also offer limited coverage instead of full. It is a liability risk, therefore, to let an uninsured person borrow your car. If you have collision and comprehensive insurance to repair your vehicle’s damages, your premiums could increase for seeking benefits even if you did not cause the crash.
Traffic Ticket Risks
On top of a highly complicated insurance process if someone crashes your car, you could also face responsibility for certain traffic citations received while someone else is driving your vehicle. If the person who borrowed your car runs a red light, for example, traffic cameras may send the citation to you based on your license plate number. While you may be able to get the person driving to pay for the ticket, it will go on your driving record – not his or hers. Someone else breaking any traffic rules or receiving a parking ticket while driving your vehicle will place the liability for that infraction with you.
If the person you let borrow your car commits a crime in it, you could face criminal charges. Although you might be able to avoid conviction if the prosecution does not have enough evidence proving you were the one behind the wheel, you could still face involvement in criminal proceedings because you owned the vehicle used in a crime, such as for vehicular manslaughter, a drive-by shooting, a drunk driving accident, or a hit-and-run. Crimes committed in your car could point to you as a suspect. Even if you were not aware of the criminal intentions of the person you let borrow your vehicle, the prosecution may try to name you as an accomplice. It will be up to you to prove your innocence in this scenario.
Loaning someone your vehicle can have serious consequences. Think twice before handing your keys to just anyone. You must be willing to face potential insurance, civil, and criminal liabilities on behalf of your friend or relative if you let that person borrow your car. If you or a loved one have been injured in a car crash, schedule a free consultation with a San Antonio auto accident lawyer for legal help.