You’ve got a great car that’s never done you wrong. It’s always been there for you, even if it has had some tough moments. Whether you found a cheap deal in someone’s back yard or bought an expensive luxury motor vehicle from a dealer, cars are not only cherished, but often expensive to maintain. The car itself, however, is probably the least of your issues. Repairs, insurance, gas, and new gadgets for your car can easily make it one of most expensive thing you’ve got in your possession right now.
With that said, it’s understandable how a car accident can be a serious mood-shifter for everyone; renters, leasers, and owners. It also adds insult to injury when the accident you were involved in is a confusing, complicated, and difficult one where fault, insurance, ownership, and other questions come in to play. Let’s go over what can happen in the event that someone borrowing a vehicle crashes into you. You may be stressing out about the damage your car has sustained; you may think that because they were borrowing a car that the rules change. This will answer any questions you may have.
Are The Medical Expenses Covered?
Florida is a “no-fault” state in which bodily injury and personal injury protection (PIP) coverage is mandatory. In the event of any accident—regardless of fault or circumstance—treatment is to be hastily given to anyone involved and will be covered by his or her insurance provider (assuming that these patients are eligible for PIP). There are many specific guidelines to PIP insurance and some complex steps that are taken by insurance providers to determine how much money is allotted and what it can be used for, so be sure to read more about personal injury protection
Now that we know about PIP, it doesn’t matter if they were in your car, their car, a stolen car, or no car at all! They will be medically covered if they have automobile insurance! Even in the event that they don’t have their own auto insurance policy, they may be eligible under the policy of someone they live with. For more answers about bodily injury and personal injury protection coverage, speak with an experienced Florida personal injury attorney
Will The Repair Costs Be Covered?
While Florida is a no-fault state for personal injury and medical treatment, insurance companies can and will
take fault into consideration when determining your right for coverage. The fact that the car that crashed into you was borrowed should play little to no role in their decision. It is to be treated as a normal accident and should be covered at such. That raises the question “who’s going to cover all these damages if the person who just hit me isn’t even the owner of this car?!”
A great question indeed! Stated over and over again on insurance websites, car insurance does
in fact follow the car. That means that no matter who is in that driver’s seat when it damages you or your property, the insurance ‘attached’ to that car is what’s going to cover you. A monkey could steal a car and crash it into you; you are covered by the policy that is registered for that car by the owner, renter, or leaser, even if they weren’t driving it!
If the damages caused by the accident are greater than the policy registered for that car, the person who was borrowing the car may also have insurance. Their insurance is to be used to cover any leftover expenses that exceed the owner’s policy. What if the borrower is uninsured? If you’ve got an Uninsured Motorist’s policy
to protect you from negligent uninsured
drivers, then it will kick in to cover any expenses that exceed the owner’s policy.
If you’ve no UM/UIM policy you should consider reading this great post
about why it is an important provision to have on your policy!
What Will Happen To The Other Party?
The other party is a completely different story. Put yourself in the shoes of the other party for just a moment…
Johnny owns a blue car. He picks up his friend Chris and they both agree on a restaurant to grab a bite to eat. As they’re pulling in Chris gets a phone call from his friend Briana and she wants to tag along!
Johnny patiently waits in the restaurant while he lets Chris borrow his car to pick up Briana. It’s only a 5-minute trip so it shouldn’t be too bad! 3 blocks away from the restaurant Chris runs a stop-sign and collides with a red car in the intersection.
In this short scenario, you’re the red car. We’ve already talked about what you’d be able to do in that scenario, but maybe someone is reading this and they portray Johnny in this situation. Well, Johnny, here’s what you need to decide to determine how coverage for YOU is going to work! Ask yourself these questions about the person who borrowed your car and got into an accident.
1.) Did they have permission to drive your vehicle, or any vehicle for that matter? (i.e. unlicensed or suspended driver)
2.) Do they live with you or do they have constant, regular, and/or expected use of your car?
- Yes, they had my permission. (Continue to question #2).
- No, they did not have my permission. (You are claiming that your car was stolen. If this was a real stolen vehicle case and someone you truly didn’t want driving your car took it without your permission, you need to file a police report. This will have to be treated as a crime and you should be covered.)
- It’s crucial to understand the circumstances of reporting a stolen vehicle. If your brother, for example, takes your car to the store to surprise you with a candy bar and ends up in an auto accident, reporting your car stolen could end with your brother in jail. It could also lead to coverage of your vehicle which otherwise may have been denied.
- If they aren’t licensed (or permitted) at all, coverage should take place, but it’s best to speak with an attorney.
3.)Are they on your insurance policy in ANY way, shape, or form?
Yes, they live with me and/or have regular, expected access to my car. (Continue to question #3).
- No, they do not live with me. (If they have their own insurance it will pay for any leftover expenses that your own policy could not cover. If they don’t have their own insurance, you may be left with the outstanding balance.)
- They will be medically covered by their own personal injury protection (PIP) if they have auto insurance, but if they are uninsured AND do not reside with you, your insurance should not cover their medical bills and any claims will likely be denied, however; denial of a PIP claim needs good reason.
- This question is the game changer and also the leading cause of coverage denial, insurance fraud charges, and premium raises. The answer to this question will either place you in the fast lane to coverage or in a court room. There are a few factors that will separate the ignorant from the criminals. There are only 3 possible answers to this question.
- Yes, I have informed my insurance provider of the presence of this licensed driver, they have evaluated his or her risk and adjusted my premium accordingly. (Your car will be covered; as I stated before, if they have their own insurance it will come into play after yours depletes. Since they live with you, even an uninsured driver can be covered under your PIP policy if there is a blood or marital relationship. )
- Yes, I have specifically excluded them from my policy. (Continue to section “Why Would You Exclude Someone?)
- No, the insurance company was not aware of the presence of this licensed driver. (Continue to section “The Ghosted Driver”)
The Ghosted Driver
This can be a horrible situation to end up dealing with. If the insurance company discovers that someone has been actively driving your car but were never informed of such activity, they can take serious measures to make sure you regret the lack of communication.
This is known as material misrepresentation
; in other words—if something you said (or didn’t say) has changed the way the provider handled you as a customer (or altered the contract in any sense of the word), you’ve probably made a big mistake.
Next, it has to be decided if it was true error or done intentionally. An example of an understandable accident would be a teenager who just got his or her license and has yet to be put on the policy or mentioned to the insurance provider.
An example of ‘intentional’ avoidance would be your 23-year-old brother who drives your car 5 miles to work every day but has yet to be mentioned to your insurance provider. You’ll have a hard time explaining to your provider why you let him go so long without putting him on your policy.
If they declare intentional material misrepresentation, you’re looking at some potentially hefty backfires. They can deny coverage completely; cover you if and only if you agree to exclude the “ghosted driver” from your policy from now and onwards; raise your premium significantly or maybe even terminate the contract altogether.
Why Would You Exclude Someone?
Exclusion is simply a term to represent someone that you have agreed and decided best (alongside your insurance provider) to deny coverage under your policy. For example, if you specifically contact your provider, tell them that your 16-year-old daughter just got her license and that you want her excluded, and then fill out some paperwork to make it happen; in the event that your daughter gets into an accident, she will not be covered under your policy.
Why would you want to do that? It sounds so cruel! Well, actually, it’s probably the most common way that honest insured families go about their business. It’s not just to be mean and deny coverage to your family members or roommates; it’s to keep the risk factor in your insurance policy low and cost effective.
Insurance companies decide your premium based on a risk assessment of all licensed drivers in your household. Assuming you’re not leaving anyone out (refer to “The Ghosted Driver
”, they’ll go over each and every candidate and calculate your premium based on the total chance of an accident. If you live with someone that has multiple DUIs on their record, it’s an undoubtedly smart decision to exclude them from your policy; in fact, the insurance provider may require
you to do so for continued coverage.
to exclude a brand new 16-year-old driver could raise your premiums significantly, which is why you exclude them in the first place. It’s essentially a double-sided agreement to the insurance provider stating that “I will promise this excluded person will never drive my car if you can promise to keep my premiums at a low-risk rate.”
In the event that someone who has been specifically named or excluded from your policy’s coverage gets in your car and gets in an accident, you’re likely to be held responsible for the accident and the expenses. Unless you can prove criminal actions were the cause of the accident, it was your responsibility to make sure the excluded driver was truly excluded.
CONTACT OUR CLEARWATER & TAMPA BAY AREA PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEYS
Regardless of how, who, what, why, when, or where an accident took place; medical treatment or coverage to you or a loved one is not to be taken lightly. If you or someone you know was involved in an accident in which coverage is owed but is being delayed, denied, or only paid partially; you may be entitled to compensation. It’s very common to see insurance providers get away with sneaky, unacceptable insurance practices simply because the insured party doesn’t know any better. Even if all you need is a few questions answered, feel free to contact the Clearwater, Florida based Dolman Law Group for a free
consultation and case evaluation. You may be surprised to find out that you’ve got a winning case in your hands.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33756
Practice Area: Personal Injury and Automobile Accident