Lending your car to a friend or family member, whether it's for a quick trip to the store or a long-distance move, is a nice gesture. But before you hand over your keys, here are five things you might want to do first.
1. Familiarize yourself with your policy.
In most states and in most policies, auto insurance coverage follows the car. If you allow someone else to use your car, then you’re on the hook for any damages incurred. However, once coverage is exhausted, the driver would be responsible for any excess judgment. If you should have questions after reviewing your policy, contact your insurance company.
2. Know the driver well.
Be honest: Is he or she a good driver? Have you driven with this person before? Are you sure he or she has a license? Are you aware of any moving violations or accidents on this person’s driving record? If you don’t know, don’t be afraid to ask. After all, it’s your car, and getting it back without incident is important to you.
3. Order at the border.
If you live near the border of Canada or Mexico and your friend plans on crossing it, be sure to check your policy for any conditions or restrictions on taking the vehicle outside of the United States. For example, you’ll want to ask your insurance company for a Canadian ID card before crossing the border. Remember, when in doubt, contact your insurance company.
4. Will borrowing the car become a habit?
If you're frequently lending your car to a relative or roommate, you should add him or her to your policy because there could be consequences in the event of an accident. This way, you’re both properly covered and can split the cost of insurance.
5. There’s no obligation.
If you still feel uncomfortable turning over the keys, just offer to drive. You'll be a good friend, and keep your car and financial future safe.