Who's Responsible if Your Roommate Gets in an Accident in Your Car?

(And whose insurance will pay for it?)
Christine Lacagnina Written by Christine Lacagnina
Christine Lacagnina
Written by Christine Lacagnina

Christine Lacagnina has written thousands of insurance-based articles for TrustedChoice.com by authoring consumable, understandable content.

paul martin Reviewed by Paul Martin
paul martin
Reviewed by Paul Martin

Paul Martin is the Director of Education and Development for Myron Steves, one of the largest, most respected insurance wholesalers in the southern U.S.

Roommate Car Accident

As a responsible driver, you do your part to keep others safe while you’re on the road. However, it can get tricky when you offer to let others use your car. So what happens when your roommate borrows your car to pick up his parents from the airport and he gets into an accident on the way? Who’s responsible for this mess, anyway?

Luckily, an independent insurance agent can help you regardless of who’s at fault. They’ve handled all kinds of messy claims, so they’re well-equipped to get you set up with all the coverage you need, long before you’d ever need it. Here’s how they’d help you get protected against your roommate borrowing your car and getting into an accident.

Who’s Responsible if My Roommate Gets into an Accident with My Car?

You trusted your roommate with your car to go pick up his parents from the airport, and he ended up getting into an accident. Unfortunately, you as the vehicle owner can be held vicariously liable. Auto insurance follows the owner of the car first. However, if you hit the limit on your car insurance policy, your roommate’s insurance would be responsible for covering the remainder. That is, if he has his own insurance.

How Does Property Damage Coverage Work in This Case?

If your roommate gets into an accident that damages another person’s vehicle, the property damage liability coverage section of your auto insurance policy would take care of the ramifications. Property damage liability covers the cost of repairs to another person’s vehicle if you are at fault for the accident. It also covers damage to property like fences, posts, or buildings. Since you’d be held vicariously liable for the accident, you’d need this coverage.

How Does Liability Coverage Work in This Case?

There are two main sections of liability insurance under most standard auto policies: property damage liability coverage, and bodily injury liability coverage. In the event of an injury, bodily injury liability coverage will cover medical payments for the other driver and their passengers if you caused the accident. Medical payments cover doctor and hospital visits, and often emergency services such as if an ambulance is ordered.

Whose Insurance Would Cover a Serious and Costly Injury?

Your auto insurance policy would cover injuries to the other driver and their passengers in the event your roommate borrowed your car and caused an accident with it. But in the event the liability coverage limit on your auto insurance policy was exhausted from this accident, your roommate’s auto insurance policy would step in to cover the rest of the cost. That’s why it’s important to make sure that anyone you loan your car to has their own auto insurance first.

Which Coverage Would Pay For the Damage to My Vehicle?

The collision coverage section of your car insurance would cover repairs for physical damage to your vehicle in this scenario. Collision coverage protects drivers from the following:

  • Collisions with objects, such as trees, signposts, fences, and buildings
  • Single-car accidents such as skidding and running off the road
  • Collisions with other vehicles

Even though your roommate was the one driving your vehicle and at fault for the accident, your car insurance policy should reimburse you for necessary repairs to your vehicle.

Are There Any Coverage Exclusions for My Roommate?

Though you loaning your car to your roommate every once in a while would be covered through your auto insurance policy, there are exclusions if this is a more frequent occurrence. If your car could be considered “always available” for someone else’s use, your auto insurance company may exclude this person from being covered under your policy. To avoid paying out of pocket for your roommate’s mistakes, make sure to limit their use of your car.

How Would This Incident Affect My Premium?

Unfortunately, even a single at-fault accident claim under your auto insurance could cause your premium to spike. Several factors influence how much your premium cost may rise, like your specific vehicle, your driving record, and your specific location. However, an average increase of up to 40% is common for drivers across the board. For this reason, it’s even more important to carefully consider who you trust with your vehicle, even for a single trip.

Other Common Risks Drivers Should Consider Getting Coverage For

While a roommate borrowing your car and getting into accidents is certainly a possible risk and happens more often than you might think, there are many other common concerns that all drivers should consider having coverage for. Here are a few of the most common auto insurance claims:

  • Damaged windshields: Windshields can be chipped or cracked by all kinds of things, including driving behind a truck on the freeway and getting hit by a rock. Having comprehensive auto insurance would protect you in this case.
  • Hail damage: Hail can absolutely destroy vehicles in a severe storm. If you live in an area prone to hailstorms, you’ll want to have comprehensive auto insurance to protect you.
  • Vandalism: Cars can be vandalized in many ways, including being keyed, tagged, having the tires slashed, or getting broken into. Once again, damage would be covered under comprehensive auto insurance.
  • Theft: Whether you’ve left your car unattended at a fancy movie theater or just in your driveway, your car can be stolen at pretty much any time. Comprehensive auto insurance will reimburse the vehicle’s owner for the replacement value of the car.
  • Rear-end collisions: The most common car insurance claims, by far, are rear-end collisions. Since you’re not at fault if you get rear-ended, the collision insurance section of your auto policy will reimburse you for your vehicle’s damage.

Talk with your independent insurance agent about these common risks that all drivers face, as well as any other concerns you may have about protecting your vehicle. They’ll make sure you get set up with all the auto insurance coverage you could ever need.

Here’s How an Independent Insurance Agent Would Help

When it comes to protecting drivers against roommates borrowing their car and causing an accident and all other strange incidents, no one’s better equipped to help than an independent insurance agent. Independent insurance agents search through multiple carriers to find providers who specialize in auto insurance, deliver quotes from a number of different sources and help you walk through them all to find the best blend of coverage and cost.

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