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You let your friend borrow your car when the (almost) unthinkable happens – he causes a car accident. Not only could this destroy your friendship, but it could also drain your wallet in the form of higher auto insurance premiums.

So who pays if your friend has a car crash? If it was your fault, the burden usually shifts to you and your auto insurance company. It may seem unfair, but this is how auto insurance works in general. Car insurance usually follows the vehicle and not the driver.

Related: Compare car insurance rates with EverQuote

So when a friend borrows your lift, your auto insurance – not your friend’s auto insurance – is usually the primary coverage for any incident involving your car.

How your insurance would pay off

Let’s say your friend is responsible for a wreck that damages your car for $ 7,500. In this situation, collision insurance (if any) would likely cover the repair bill for your car (minus the excess). In the meantime, your liability insurance will take care of repairing damage to other people’s property (e.g., other people’s vehicles) and paying medical bills for other people’s injuries.

Your friend’s car insurance will generally not apply if they are driving someone else’s car. However, your friend’s policy could be secondary coverage if you have exhausted the dollar limits on your policy to pay for damage and injuries caused by the wreck.

For example, if the wreckage with your friend behind the wheel results in $ 15,000 in damage to another driver’s car, but the liability portion of your policy limits property damage coverage to $ 10,000, your friend’s policy can be tapped to around $ 5,000 -Voice to fill.

Exceptions that affect insurance coverage

But when it comes to auto insurance, there are often exceptions – exceptions that could affect your friend’s accident coverage. For example, some auto insurances exclude other drivers, including relatives who live with you, unless these drivers are named on a policy. This extremely cheap coverage is sold by inferior insurers. Insurers with a solid reputation do not limit coverage to just the main driver or other drivers listed on the policy.

Related: Compare car insurance rates with EverQuote

Good news: if your friend did not cause the accident, financial responsibility for damage and injuries can pass to the responsible driver. (But in no-fault states, most claims for damages are made on your own personal protection insurance.)

Now what if your friend borrowed your car without your permission (called non-voluntary use)? Your own car insurance usually only covers people who drive your car with your permission. In these cases, your friend’s insurance would be the main protection if the friend had an accident with your car. And what if your friend doesn’t have car insurance? Then you may have to rely on your own coverage to pay for any damage or injury.

It could get stickier if your friend isn’t the best driver right now. Let’s say you allowed your friend to borrow your car even though you knew he was too tipsy or had multiple parking tickets. If so, you could be held responsible for any damage or injury caused by your friend.

Dents in your insurance file

How does all of this affect your auto insurance premium? Despite the fact that your friend was driving your car – and you weren’t near the car – your insurance rates could go up at the renewal time because you were eligible for the policy.

The lesson in all of this: Just as it is wise to choose your friends carefully, it is wise to carefully choose the friends you loan your car to.

Related: Compare car insurance rates with EverQuote