January 17, 2010

Can My Auto Insurance Cover A Vehicle I Don’t Own

There are several instances when your own insurance policy may cover a vehicle you don’t personally own. These situations require that you were driving the car and were responsible for the accident. Essentially, your auto policy covers other cars only when they do not have insurance of their own or when they exhaust coverage on the primary policy.

For example, you could be in a rental car while your car is in the shop. It could be that the insurance on the car was exhausted, causing your policy to take effect as a supplemental source of insurance. Perhaps you don’t own a car but occasionally borrow one from a friend. In the first two scenarios, your own car insurance policy can come into play while you are driving someone else’s car. In the third case, you may have a non-owned automobile policy to cover your incidental use of the cars owned by your friends and family.

In the case of rental cars, your auto insurance coverage and limits will often apply to the rental car too. If you have collision coverage on your policy but did not purchase additional collision coverage from the rental company, your policy pays for the damage. If you do buy collision coverage from the rental company, your collision policy would only come into play if the coverage you bought through the rental agency was exhausted. Comprehensive coverage works the same way. Liability coverage is mandated by law in some states. In these situations, the rental company is forced to carry its own liability insurance and will be primary for any accidents. Otherwise, your policy will pay first.

When you borrow a car from someone else, a similar situation arises. It may be that your friend let their car insurance lapse or that the insurance on the other car was not enough to cover the damage. If you were driving the car, your insurance may end up paying the claim.

In the case of non-owned vehicles, you can buy an insurance policy that covers you whenever you drive a car that belongs to someone else. This coverage is most appropriate for residents of large cities that often rent cars. It can be cheaper to purchase one year of non-owned auto coverage that pay rental insurance fees every time you rent. The non-owned auto policy is primarily for liability coverage in the even that losses exceed the coverage on the car you are driving. Damage to the vehicle itself will be covered by the vehicle owner, as long as they gave you permission to drive the car. In general, these policies do not carry deductibles, as is the case with most liability policies.