“Did you give permission for the driver to take the car?” How you answer this question can make the difference between whether you have insurance coverage or not.

When you get insurance on your car, your policy doesn’t just insure you. The insurance coverage also follows the car if someone else is using it. However, your insurance coverage only follows the car if it is being used with your permission.

If you are driving someone else’s car, you are covered so long as you are operating the vehicle with the permission or consent of the owner. So, if you are in a car accident, then the policy that covers the vehicle will also provide you coverage.

If you are the owner of the vehicle that was involved in the accident, your insurance company may ask you if the driver had your permission to drive the vehicle. Many times, people feel the knee-jerk reaction to say “No.” They are probably afraid that if they say “Yes,” then they will be held responsible for the accident. Insurance companies thrive on this fear in order to avoid coverage and paying the claim. Don’t let that happen!

Permissive Driver and Insurance

Permission vs. No Permission and Insurance Coverage

If you are the owner of a vehicle that was involved in an accident, and you say that the driver DID NOT have your permission to drive the vehicle, then the insurance company may not provide coverage. Therefore, neither the driver nor you would have the protection of the insurance company in case the other person pursues legal action for any damages or injuries sustained in the accident.

However, if you say that the other driver DID have permission, then your insurance company will investigate the claim and pay for the other person’s vehicle damages or injuries. Most importantly, the insurance company will provide a legal defense in case the other driver takes legal action against you.

The most important thing to remember here is that “permission” means you get the protection and coverage of your insurance. However, “no permission” means that protection and coverage will not apply. Without your insurance coverage in place, you also do not have the benefit of a legal defense from your insurance company in case a lawsuit is filed.

What Constitutes “Permission?”

Permission or consent to operate a vehicle can be express or implied. For instance, if you ask someone to borrow their car and they say “Yes,” then that is an example of express permission.

However, there is also implied consent. This arises in situations where the vehicle is routinely used by someone without necessarily asking every time they use it. Examples would be a son or daughter, roommate, or close relative that lives with you.

Permissive Driver

Think Before You Answer the Question.

Don’t be so quick to say that the driver or your vehicle did not have permission. But then again, don’t lie either. Just be truthful. If the person has your permission to drive, whether express or implied, then say so. If the other person actually stole your vehicle, then so be it.

Even if you did not give express permission, but really had no problem with them driving your car, then say “He had my consent” or “We had an understanding that he can use my car.” This way, the coverage stays in place and you get all the benefits and protection of your insurance policy.

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Robert C. Slim is only licensed to practice in Texas. If your case occurred outside of Texas, you should consult with an attorney in that jurisdiction.

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