Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health insuran...

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Chris Harrigan has an economic degree from Limestone College and an MBA from Clemson University. He previously managed auto insurance claims for Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Currently, he is using his business and insurance expertise to provide insurance data analysis and visualizations to enhance the user experience.

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Reviewed by Chris Harrigan
Former Auto Insurance Claims Manager

UPDATED: Sep 23, 2020

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Key takeaways...

  • If you own your own car, you legally need to have insurance to register it and drive it
  • When you have auto insurance, the coverage will protect you when you’re driving cars that you don’t own
  • Your liability coverage follows you as a driver and protects you when you’re driving your car or other cars
  • Your insurance covers you when driving rented cars, borrowed cars, and loaner cars that replace your car
  • If you’re driving an uninsured car, your insurance will pay for liability claims as long as you don’t own it

No one should ever drive a vehicle that doesn’t have insurance. Unfortunately, uninsured cars are driven up and down public streets, highways, and freeways on a regular basis.

These drivers aren’t just disobeying the law when they drive a vehicle without insurance, they are putting everyone on the road at risk as well.

You have control over the insurance that you buy on your own vehicles. You can purchase liability-only or more comprehensive coverage for your car as well.

Just because you have control over the coverage that you have on your own property doesn’t mean that you have control over the coverage that’s carried on a car you’re borrowing.

Make sure you have the coverage you need at the best price. Comparison-shop today by entering your zip code above.

Before you borrow a friend’s car, here’s what you must know about insurance issues that can arise:

You Must Insure Any Car That You Own


Owning a car can be a major responsibility. You don’t just have to take care of the property, you also have to take care of business when you’re a car owner. That means that you must purchase insurance and keep coverage on the car for as long as you’re the car’s legal owner.

When you’re the legal owner of a car, you’re the one who has to pay for fines when there are tickets or penalties for being late on a registration. You’re also the one people can sue when something happens in the car.

If your name is on the registration of the vehicle, you are the one who needs to buy insurance and the insurance needs to be in your name, too.

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Ask the Right Questions Before You Borrow a Car

You’re not legally responsible for insuring someone else’s car. There’s no way that you can force someone to maintain coverage on their car if they don’t want to.

You can, however, brush up on the topic and ask all of the right questions before you borrow a car.

You need to be sure that any car you’re driving has at least the coverage that’s mandatory under state law.

If you’re not sure what’s mandatory in the state, you should familiarize yourself with the state vehicle code section relevant to insurance. Here are some questions to ask the vehicle owner:

  • Is the car currently insured?
  • What carrier is the car insured through?
  • When does the policy expire?
  • Does the car have liability insurance or full coverage?
  • Does the policy cover permissive users who aren’t rated on the policy?

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How Your Insurance Protects You If the Car Isn’t Insured

If you didn’t ask the right questions or it turns out that the vehicle owner wasn’t honest with you, you’ll have some relief in knowing that your insurance might be there to help when there’s no primary coverage on the car.

It all depends on who owns the car and why you’re driving it in the first place.

You’d like to think that someone you’re close enough to borrow their car would be honest with you, but sometimes people hide important information just to protect their own pride.

If you face this situation and you get into an accident while you’re borrowing an uninsured car, your policy will pay for specific types of coverage claims just to protect your own finances.

Does your physical damage coverage pay for damage to the car?


Your insurer will only pay out for specific types of claims. There’s no guarantee that physical damage coverage will pay since you don’t own the car, it’s not listed on your insurance, and it’s not being insured by the vehicle’s actual owner.

You’ll have to consider what your policy pays for and what it doesn’t.

There’s a chance physical damage coverage will pay if the car owner sues you for damaging the car while it’s in your possession, but even if this happens, it’s not likely the suit will be taken seriously since the owner of the car didn’t maintain insurance.

Here are some of the coverage options that will protect you if you’re carrying them:

  • Bodily Injury Liability – pays for third-party medical bills when someone is hurt in an accident while you’re borrowing the car
  • Property Damage Liability – pays for third-party property damage expenses when property needs to be repaired or replaced after you run into something in the borrowed car
  • Medical Payments Coverage – pays for first-party medical bills when immediate medical treatment is needed after you’re in an accident in the borrowed car
  • Uninsured Motorist Protection – pays for your medical bills and rehabilitation costs when someone who isn’t insured hits you no matter what vehicle you’re driving

The definition of covered auto is broader than you might think. Your listed car is covered but so are rented cars, cars that you borrow from friends who don’t live with you, and other temporary substitutes that you don’t own.

Trailers can even receive some coverage under your auto policy.

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Can you get in trouble for borrowing a car that’s uninsured?

You don’t want to land yourself in court defending yourself against a citation because you drove a car that wasn’t insured. Luckily, you won’t be charged for being uninsured if you’re stopped.

Unfortunately, there is a chance that the officer could tow the car and you may get stuck on the side of the road all because you borrowed a car that was not insured.

Your insurance really does protect you in a myriad of different situations. You need to be sure that you know how your contract works so that you build a comprehensive policy with sufficient limits.

Get quotes for higher limits online and see if you can save money and get more coverage. Use our free comparison tool to get started right away.