Car Key, Key, Sale, For Rent Sign, Human Hand

Hey, Can I Borrow Your Car?

Whether it’s a friend in a jam or a family member visiting from out of state, drivers borrow each other’s cars all the time. But what are the implications for your insurance coverage? Here’s what to ask before letting another driver head into the sunset in your vehicle—or before borrowing someone else’s vehicle.

Car Key, Key, Sale, For Rent Sign, Human HandIf you’re loaning out your car, ask:

  • Is the borrower licensed to drive? If they’re visiting from out of state, you don’t need to worry. If they have a driver’s license from another country, check your state’s requirements—the driver may need to apply for an International Driving Permit before he or she arrives in the U.S.
  • Does the borrower have a good driving record? If they have a history of fender benders and you keep your vehicle in pristine condition, it’s OK to not hand over the keys.
  • Is my insurance up to date? Every state requires a minimum level of auto insurance coverage, and some stipulate that in case of an accident, the car owner’s auto insurance—not the driver’s—provides primary coverage. (So if the driver rear-ends someone or bumps another car in a parking lot and your insurance has lapsed, you could be liable for damages.) Depending on your state’s regulations, you may also want to verify whether the driver has his or her own car insurance.
  • What do they plan to use the car for? If it’s any kind of commercial activity, like driving for a ridesharing program, you’ll need to check your auto insurance policy. Again, in many states, the car owner’s auto insurance provides primary coverage. If the car is being driven for commercial purposes and you only have a personal policy, you may not have sufficient coverage.
Review your policy.

You should also ask if they plan to drive the vehicle into Canada or Mexico. Customs officers are often on the lookout for stolen cars, so you may want to provide the driver with a letter stating they’re authorized to take yours across the border.

  • Will the borrower use the car regularly? Your newly licensed teenager may phrase it as ‘borrowing’ the car, but if they’re using it to go to sports practice or the mall every weekend (and live in your household), you should add them to your insurance policy as a regular user.

Son borrowing father's carIf you’re the one borrowing the car, ask:

  • Do I have permission to borrow the car? If not, you could run into legal trouble. In many states, if you’re a direct family member of the car’s owner, it’s assumed you have permission—but it’s still polite to ask.
  • What are the regulations in the state where I’ll be driving? As the driver, it’s your responsibility to know the local rules of the road, from licensing requirements to speed limits and whether right turns on red are allowed. You should also check insurance requirements to make sure you’re properly covered, and be sure to ask the owner. Some states require the car owner’s insurance to cover any accidental damage, so if they’re not insured or don’t have the right coverage, as the driver you may end up being liable.
  • What kind of gas should I fill up with? They were generous enough to loan you a car—the least you can do is return it with a full tank.
  • Where do you keep the registration and insurance information? It’s best to be prepared, instead of rummaging in the glove compartment if something goes wrong.
  • Where do you usually take the car for maintenance? Get the name and number of their mechanic shop or dealership in advance for peace of mind while you’re on the road.
  • Can I eat and drink in the car? A vehicle is a personal space, so show it the same courtesy you would someone’s home.

Before you hit the road (or let someone else hit the road in your car), make sure you have the right car insurance coverage. Get a fast, free quote at geico.com and see how much you could save!

By Kristen Koch

Get GEICO Auto insurance.

    Leave a comment

  1. Laurie says,

    A friend of mine would like to borrow my car for a few days, does she need to have her own car insurance policy ? She just sold her car and cancelled her policy.

    • Editor (GEICO) says,

      As long as she still has a valid driver’s license and you have adequate coverage on the vehicle, she should be good. Feel free to call us at 1-800-947-AUTO (2886) to confirm your coverage with a licensed agent.

  2. Gi Jelinek says,

    Best practice:
    Your daughters friend should call their auto insurance company and ask if permissible use is covered or simply ask: hey does my policy cover if my friend drives my car for the day etc. Keep it simple!
    Typically insurance follows the vehicle so let’s say friends auto insurance company covers permissible use and your daughter gets into an AF accident. Friends auto insurance company covers first and your auto insurance policy is secondary :: IF your daughter is listed away at school /college … still CALL your auto insurance company to clarify if daughter needs to be updated to active / Dau listed away at school/college!! Your auto insurance company should guide you etc. okay so daughter is active on your Policy for the Ex: friends auto insurance coverage is 25/50/25…. and the medical/property damage for the the party that your daughter hit exceeds that. Your auto insurance coverage would then kick in as secondary bc your daughter is on your policy. ** again calm your auto insurance company to ask questions **
    Here is the thing, claims situations are not uniform so this is just a basic example. Still the best thing is have friend call their auto insurance company to ask and you definitely should call your auto insurance company and ask as well.

  3. Jon Bianchi says,

    Our daughter is off at college and sometimes barrows a friends car. She is listed on our auto insurance,
    Does our coverage cover her in another vehicle

  4. Don Root says,

    I wish to loan our cars in California to a trusted frien for a week while he and spouse are staying at our California home. He is a high ranking Seattle Police Department executive. His wife a realtor. They have their own insurance. Anything special I need to do with our insurance?

  5. Louise Paolillo says,

    No borrowing or lending family or otherwise keeping everyone in a safe zone. I’ll drive you or I’ll rent a car

  6. John friday says,

    My cars are my babies so NO I don’t let anyone drive my car without me in it. I also don’t allow smoking or eating in my cars, that, why I can have a 19 yo car be in original condition and look and drive good as new.

  7. Nams says,

    If I am borrowing a car from a non-family person and he resides in a different state. Can I still drive it in my home state

    • G Jelinek says,

      The information listed is still a good read. I do understand what you are asking though.

      Call you auto insurance company! Auto insurance companies are not uniform with contracts. You pay for auto insurance, therefore call for questions like this!! Ring them up and simply ask : hey does my policy cover if I loan my car to my friend for a day /week ect. Some auto insurance companies may try to probe for additional hh members or drivers who may use your car on a recurring basis. That is why I’m saying keep it simple based on example friend borrowing for a week ect.