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Does car insurance “follow” the car or the driver? A new answer to the oldest question in the book.

Imagine you’ve just been injured in a car accident. The at-fault driver informs you that he does not have insurance personally, but the owner of the car (which he borrowed) does. Under Texas law, will your injuries be covered by an insurance policy?

Whether the above scenario describes your car accident or if even the exact opposite is true (the driver’s insured but the car isn’t) the bottom line is that there is no question that our attorneys field more frequently than the questions of whose coverage applies. The good news is that a skilled lawyer will know how to get your compensated under either scenario because Texas courts have determined that either insurance policy can be made to cover you losses.

In this article our Texas car accident attorneys will explain how this concept works.


Questions Answered on This Page:

  • What happens if someone else was driving my car when the accident happened?
  • Does car insurance cover the car or the driver?
  • What are examples of when the car insurance will not apply?

If there’s an insurance policy, we can probably get it.

In a perfect world, when you’re involved in a car accident, the owner of the car is the driver and the insurance on the car is also the policy that covers the owner. In reality, however, people within the same household often share cars, companies lend their cars to employees, friends lend their cars to one another, and people drive rental cars, etc. This creates scenarios where the car may be covered but not the individual, or the individual is covered on their own policy but the car is not.

This is not the issue that people often make it seem. If there is an insurance policy anywhere in the mix, insurance will normally cover it, but only if you know the right legal arguments to make or have an attorney who does. To illustrate this, let’s cover a couple scenarios.

  • Jane is driving a friend’s car. The friend has no car insurance on the vehicle. On Jane’s vehicle, she has car insurance. Even if she causes an accident that injures someone with her friend’s uninsured vehicle, it is insured, for all intents and purposes, because Jane is insured.
  • Bob rents a car from Hertz. Bob has no car insurance and he refuses to buy the supplementary policy that the rental company sells. If he causes a car accident and hurts somebody, there is an insurance policy that covers it; it’s the rental company’s insurance policy. Just because Bob didn’t purchase the extra coverage, and doesn’t have his own policy, it doesn’t mean there’s no insurance at all.
  • Cory is married to Renee. They share the some household, etc. Cory has had a bunch of speeding tickets and is uninsurable, while Renee has a good driving record. They own two cars, and both Cory and Renee are on the title for both vehicles. Renee has an insurance policy covering herself in both vehicles, but in order to avoid letting the insurance carrier learn about Cory and his driving record, Renee never mentions that Cory will be driving the car, so the insurance company does not know that Cory exists. If Cory then drives one of the cars and causes an accident, it is not an uninsured wreck even though Cory is not insured. Since someone in his household has a policy that covers the car, we’ll be able to make that policy “stick.”

As you can see, if there’s some insurance there, we can probably get it.

Why does everyone think this is a big issue?

Short answer, insurance companies are willing to lie to you. Insurance carriers know that not many people are not knowledgeable of the ins and outs of the law, so if there is a policy that covers the car, yet it’s not readily apparent that it covers the car (like the scenarios outlined above), the insurance carrier isn’t going to spell it out for you. If you don’t know how to make a less-than-obvious policy apply to the accident, they’re not going to tell you. As many uninformed people have let insurance companies pull the wool over their eyes, folk lore surrounding insurance law has become part of the common understanding, despite being incorrect. Just the same way that people say, “Pedestrians always have the right of way,” or “The car that hit you from behind is always at fault,” and neither of those statements is true, this too is an example of the public’s misconception of how the law works.

Are there scenarios where there is legitimately no insurance coverage?

Yes, if no one related to the accident has any insurance at all. Let’s say Joe owns a Honda Civic, and has no car insurance, and that Civic is not covered by anyone else’s policy. Joe gets struck by a Ford F-150. The owner of the truck was driving and also lacks insurance covering himself or the vehicle, and neither does anyone else is his household. In that instance, Joe wouldn’t have an insurance policy with which to place a claim.

Or, if the person driving the car is specifically excluded from the policy. This happens when an insurance carrier states that they will not cover a specific individual based on their driving record. Or if you, as the policy owner, call and request a person specifically not be included in your insurance policy.

What’s a better way to think of this dilemma?

Short answer, forget all of the “does the insurance follow X or Y?” conjecture; this is just insurance law. It’s really not complex to lawyers who understand the issue. Nevertheless, the question to the common question of whether the policy follows the car or the driver, the answer is, it follows both.

A better way to think of this topic is not so much in terms of which insurance policy applies but more in terms of an order of operations. Which insurance policy is the first line of defense? Which would be used next? Etc. For instance, if someone lets a friend borrow their car, both have policies and the victim has UIM coverage. If someone gets hurt badly enough, it’s possible that they could get money from all three policies. It’s complex, there’s a correct order in which the claims should be filed and settled, but it’s doable.

Myth: The Person Who Caused an Accident Is Required By Law to Compensate Their Victims We don't know why people believe this myth, but that's not how the law works at all...Read More >

Give Grossman Law Offices a Call Today.

Situations like yours can be complicated; if you have been in an accident you need the advice and representation of a highly skilled personal injury attorney. The attorneys at Grossman Law Offices have been practicing personal injury law for more than 25 years. We will be happy to assist you through this difficult time, please call (855) 326-0000 for more information.


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