Reposted on 4/19/19

Imagine this scenario: Your neighbor’s car is currently out of commission, and they need to run a quick errand. You trust your neighbor, you’re fairly confident that they have a good driving record and you don’t mind lending them your own vehicle for the afternoon. Unfortunately, you get a phone call from your neighbor, telling you that they were in an accident while driving your vehicle. What happens now?

Whose Auto Insurance Covers the Damage?

If your neighbor was hit by an insured driver, the process will be simple enough. The at-fault driver will file a claim with their own insurance company, who will pay to get your vehicle back to pre-accident condition. If the collision was bad enough to cause an injury, the at-fault driver’s car insurance would also cover medical bills, lost wages and any other expenses associated with the accident.

However, if your neighbor was the at-fault driver, you’re going to be the one to file the claim and your insurance is going to cover the damage. Your car insurance typically doesn’t cover any damaged items that were inside of your car, although many insurers are now offering personal property insurance, which would help replace personal belongings that were ruined in the collision.

There’s an exception, of course, and that is if your neighbor drove your car without your permission. If it can be proven that your car was borrowed without your consent, it’s possible that your claim would not be covered. However, because it can be hard to prove whether or not permission was given, your insurance provider may cover the damage and then decline renewing your policy.

As in all cases, it’s important to check your own policy or speak with your auto insurance agent to find out how situations like these are handled. Some policies provide different coverage for relatives living in your house. Other policies may offer reduced coverage if your car is involved in a collision in which you were not the driver. Your policy is unique, so make sure you know exactly how an accident would affect you before you loan out your vehicle.

What If the Damage is Less Than My Insurance Deductible?

Maybe you have a $500 deductible, and your vehicle’s repair costs tally up to $450. Obviously, unless your repair shop finds further damage once they disassemble your vehicle, there is no point in filing a claim. Hopefully your neighbor would recognize that because they are responsible for the accident, they should be willing to cover, or at the very least contribute to, the repair costs.

What If They Don’t Fulfill Their Financial Obligations?

While you’d like to think that a friend, neighbor or family member would acknowledge and take responsibility for the damage, you can’t be certain that this will be the case. They may not have the means to cover your insurance deductible or repair costs, or they may simply be unwilling to own up to the fact that they have a responsibility to return your vehicle to the condition that it was in before they borrowed it.

Obviously, this isn’t an ideal situation, but you are not without recourse. You could sue them in small claims court to recoup your losses. After all, the accident will be filed with your insurance and you may pay higher premiums going forward, so it is certainly not unreasonable to expect them to at least compensate for damages.  Call your insurance agent for advice.

Depending on the extent of the damages and whether or not you want to remain on speaking terms with your neighbor, filing a lawsuit may not be the best course of action. You may simply choose to pay your deductible and count this a valuable lesson learned.

Related Articles:

At Fault – If You Caused an Auto Accident

Uninsured Drivers: Avoiding Financial Devastation

The Ins and Outs of Bodily Injury Liability Insurance

Automobile Liability Insurance 101: What Does It Cover?

Read More: Auto Insurance in Las Vegas, Nevada

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