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Who pays when a car accident involves a borrowed car?

Seattle is full of cars. Some of them are being driven by people talking on the phone, eating their lunches, thinking about work or affected by alcohol. Some of these folks have insurance, some do not. Some are driving their own cars, some are driving other people's cars. Thus, when this colorful cast of characters gets in a car accident, an interesting question can emerge: who pays when a car accident involves a borrowed car?

As a general rule, car insurance goes with the car rather than the driver. This runs contrary to a popular myth that says insurance follows the driver. Therefore, in a car accident, the car owner's insurance would provide the primary coverage. If that coverage was insufficient, then the driver's insurance would step in as secondary coverage. Some exceptions may apply to stop a car owner from being liable for damages caused by a driver who borrower the car.

The first exception is if the driver who borrower the car was expressly excluded from the insurance policy. For example, if the insurance coverage said that Uncle Bob was not covered, and then Uncle Bob borrowed the car and got in an accident, then Uncle Bob would not be covered.

The second exception is if the driver who borrowed the car did so without the owner's permission. For instance, if Uncle Bob decided to take the car for a joyride without asking and then got in an accident, again, Uncle Bob would be liable, not the car owner. Washingtonians interested in learning more about car accidents and who is liable for them may benefit from speaking with an experienced car-accident attorney.

Source: FindLaw, "Borrowed Car Accidents: Who Pays?" Accessed Dec. 27, 2016

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