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Insurance coverage when you lend your auto in Florida

How does insurance coverage work when you lend your auto in Florida?

If you own a vehicle, liability for a car accident in Florida could fall on you, even if you were not driving it and regardless of your relationship with the driver.

Generally, it is not a problem that you give your consent to another person (permissive use) to drive your car. This is because the policies have a clause stating that anyone will be covered if they have permission to use your vehicle (driver, family member living with you and/or dependent children in school).

However, before lending your car in Florida, you should analyze the consequences and liability in the event that the person you allowed to borrow your vehicle is involved in a car accident.

You better think twice before lending your car to family and friends!

What does the law say in Florida when you lend someone your car?

In Florida, there is the “Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine”. According to Statute 324.021, the owner who lends a motor vehicle to any user is held liable for the operation of the vehicle or the act of the operator in connection with it. In other words, if you lend your auto in Florida, you could be liable for any damages resulting from the use of that vehicle if the driver you gave permission to causes a car accident.

There are some exceptions to the Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine. Some of those exceptions are related to the vehicle being left at a repair shop, rental and leasing companies, accidents with newly purchased cars before title transfer occurs, and theft of a vehicle.

Additionally, because Florida is a no-fault state, every car owner is required to have Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance coverage as part of their auto insurance policy.

How does insurance coverage work when you lend your auto in Florida?

Use with permission

1. If you decide to lend your auto, your auto insurance will be your primary coverage. If you have driver’s insurance, this will be secondary or excess insurance.

2. Regarding the process, if your car suffers an accident, it is you as the owner, who will have to file the insurance claim, pay the deductible and probably receive a rate increase.

3. If the person you loaned your car to has insurance on their own vehicle, their personal injury protection (PIP) coverage will likely cover their accident. However, these coverages only apply if you, as the owner of the vehicle, did not have insurance at the time of the accident.

4. In Florida, vehicle owners are required by law to also carry property damage liability (PDL) insurance. This coverage also extends to other drivers using the vehicle with permission.

5. In Florida, regardless of who was at fault for the accident, each person involved is covered under their own PIP insurance. However, for some serious or permanent injuries sustained through the negligence of another driver, that person’s insurance may cover those injuries.

6. In case of accidents, PIP insurance will cover medical expenses, lost wages without the need to know who was at fault. This policy covers the driver, passengers and pedestrians and cyclists who may have been affected.

Use without permission

7. Now, if a driver uses your car without your permission and has an accident, you probably won’t be responsible for damages to third parties. However, you could be responsible for damage to your own car, and you may need to talk to your insurer for repairs to your own vehicle.

9. Keep in mind that in case of non-permissive use, the driver’s insurance will be considered the main one and yours will be the secondary one. But if that driver does not have insurance, he will be liable for the damages.

Suggestions when lending your auto in Florida

  • Foremost, keep your car in good condition and do not lend it in case it has a fault.
  • Make sure you understand the rules, policies, and coverages of your insurance policy.
  • Verify that the person you lend your car to is someone who is responsible, prudent, and trustworthy. Likewise, check that you have a valid driver’s license.
  • Also, make sure the vehicle documents are in the glove box (registration, insurance, contact numbers).

Final Words

In short, Florida is a no-fault state, so liability for a car accident could be yours, as the car owner, even if you weren’t driving it.

There are exceptions and policies generally cover these events, but you better think twice before lending your auto in Florida to family and friends.

If you need auto insurance and have questions about coverage, contact us.

We offer you excellent advice!

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