What Happens if Someone Else is Driving My Car and Gets into an Accident in Alberta?
It’s a reality of modern life that sometimes, we just have to lend out our car to someone who isn’t normally on the insurance policy.
Maybe it’s a friend who has an emergency. Or, it’s a relative who just needs to get their groceries once a month. Maybe you need them to run a quick errand on your behalf.
Regardless of the circumstances, lending out your car can represent a risk that the driver you’ve entrusted with your car keys will get into an accident.
If that happens and your friend or family member wasn’t at-fault then they can generally press a personal injury suit as normal. It’s the other driver’s insurance company that will matter most, though you may still be making claims against your own policy to cover damages.
If your family member or friend was at-fault then you can find yourself as the co-defendant in a personal injury case.
When does your own insurance cover another driver?
If someone is driving your car without insurance?
In order for the insurance to cover your driver, the following must be true.
First, they must have permission to have the vehicle.
Second, they must not have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol, driving on a suspended license, or otherwise violating the law.
Third, they must not be driving the car so often that their borrowing of the car has become habitual. If your friend or family member is driving the car twice weekly, or lives in your home and may take the car on a regular basis, then they really need to be on the insurance policy as a regular, covered driver.
If they aren’t, the insurance company can refuse to pay the claim.
In addition, it’s important to speak to your agent or check your policy. Some insurance policies require you to disclose every person who lives in your household so that all of their driving records may be taken into account when assessing your premiums. They know that there’s a pretty slim chance that a car-less house resident won’t be borrowing your car on a regular basis if you share the same roof.
When can insurance choose not to cover someone who was driving your car?
Your insurance company will not cover the accident if the driver took your car without permission, was under the influence, was driving on a suspended license, or was deliberately excluded from your policy. They may choose not to cover the driver if the use of the car was habitual and you never got around to putting the person on your policy.
In fact, if you don’t have this driver on your insurance you can expect a bit of an uphill battle to get them to pay. The insurance moves with the car, but insurance companies tend to do whatever they can do to reduce or eliminate their liability.
In addition, you can expect your insurance premiums to go up regardless. You’re responsible for your own car, which means you’re going to be considered a higher risk to insure even if someone takes your keys without permission and gets into an accident. In the eyes of the insurance company, you’ve demonstrated that you’re the type of person who might just be careless enough to make it easy for someone to take your car without permission.
You may find yourself in a position to have to downright provide evidence for some pretty weird things. For example, you might have to provide proof that you lent the driver the car. The insurance company may try to claim the driver took the car without permission even if they 100% had your permission. This is why you are going to want to retain a lawyer if you find yourself in this situation. You just never know what insurance companies are going to throw at you.
What if the driver of your vehicle has their own insurance policy?
This is usually good news. It means you have a bit of a safety net because their insurance policy might act as secondary to your policy. In addition, this may act as further proof that they aren’t a habitual driver of the car.
Assuming all goes well, their policy should cover whatever your policy doesn’t cover, ensuring both you and the person who has borrowed the car are financially protected.
What steps should you take before lending out your car?
While due diligence is never comfortable, it’s important to conduct yours before you give anyone your car keys.
- Check the driver’s license. Is it valid?
- Make sure you know where your car is going, what it’s being used for, who else will be in the car, and when you can expect to have it back.
- Don’t lend out your car if it’s not in good working order.
- Make sure your proof of insurance and registration are right inside the dashboard in case the driver gets pulled over. Show them where they can find it and get to it fast.
Again, if the driver is taking your car out more than twice a week it’s a really good idea to just add them to your insurance policy. It may push your premiums up a little bit, but those premium increases won’t be nearly as expensive as your liability if they get into an accident and the insurance company refuses to pay the claim.
What should you do after someone else gets into an accident with your car?
Most people know what to do when they get into a car accident with their own car, but what should you do if someone else was driving your car and got into an accident?
Step one is to call a car accident lawyer and do it as soon as you know about the accident. Don’t talk to your insurance company first. Anything you say can be used against you. Talk to a lawyer and let the lawyer handle your insurance company. You’ll tend to get better results.
Do this whether the other driver was at-fault or not at fault. You can do this even before you know who was at fault. You’re going to need a lawyer either way. Either you’re going to need someone to advocate for you so that your damages get paid or you’re going to need someone to protect you from having to pay someone else’s damages.
The next step is to read your policy thoroughly and forward a copy of your policy to your lawyer so you both can understand exactly what you are working with.
Get on the phone with the driver and make sure they’re taking the appropriate steps.
That is, make sure they’re making every effort to get the other driver’s contact information and insurance information. Make sure they’re getting the names and numbers of witnesses. Direct them to take loads of pictures and direct them to call the police. Direct them to get medical attention and to follow all of the doctor’s instructions.
If you have to, remind them that you’re now liable and they’ll be protecting you with these steps. If they truly care about you they’ll do ask you to ask them to do. They may already know what to do, but it doesn’t hurt to call them and ask them what they’ve already taken care of. If it’s a young driver, they might well need the coaching simply due to panic, or a lack of knowledge.
Why trust us with your car accident case?
Each of our lawyers has over two decades of experience handling car accident cases in Calgary. Our team is known for our courtroom litigation skills as well as our sharp negotiation skills. We know car accident cases inside and out, and we know how to handle insurance companies while protecting your rights.
Don’t try to handle a car accident alone. Your call is risk-free. Call (403) 219-0184 to set up a consultation today.