Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health in...

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Written by Rachael Brennan
Licensed Insurance Agent Rachael Brennan

Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Reviewed by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: May 6, 2022

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In a nutshell

  • If you’re driving a borrowed car, your personal auto insurance policy may cover you temporarily while using the vehicle
  • If you drive a borrowed, uninsured car, you may not get coverage from your policy
  • Only liability coverage, uninsured motorist protection, and medical payment protection may extend to non-owned vehicles

Driving an uninsured car can have dangerous repercussions on your financial status. Even if you’re an insured driver driving an uninsured car, there can be complications. In the event that you get into an accident, and you’re not able to provide proof of insurance, or an existing policy at the time of the incident, you won’t have any compensation for damages or injuries.

Furthermore, if you cause any damage to a third party, you may end up facing legal action, in order to compensate for the losses. This can have a severe financial toll on your life.

The reason that insurance is mandatory is because of the financial impact that can be had on a driver. Uninsured drivers were causing financial strain on third-party motorists, and this would also cause strain on the insurance carrier of the person involved with said uninsured driver.

If you’re renting a vehicle, you should consider having coverage that would protect the rental. You should talk to your insurance provider to see the specific areas your policy covers.

Talking to your current provider will tell you what type of coverage you have. If you need to compare your insurance company to others on the market, just enter your zip code above.

Driving an Uninsured Car: Can a personal auto policy cover more than one car?

You will find several terms used in your auto insurance policy, so knowing what comes included can be incredibly beneficial.

One of the misunderstood terms is ‘covered vehicles.’ Many policyholders assume it’s the listed vehicle you stated on the declaration form, but it actually covers much more than that.

Here is a list of unlisted vehicles that the policy will cover you to drive:

  • Vehicles you newly acquired after the policy began
  • A vehicle replacing one of the listed cars on the policy
  • Policy coverage for a rental vehicle
  • A temporary car that you’re using when your vehicle is being repaired, stored, or service
  • Trailers that you own and can be towed or driven on public roads

A personal auto insurance policy will also cover any other owned vehicles or passengers of the policy owner. An insured driver driving an uninsured car will not necessarily be covered in any other circumstances.

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Driving an Uninsured Car: Does an insurance policy follow the driver or the car?

As you’ve noted so far, your personal auto insurance policy covers much more than you may originally expect. Going through your policy and learning the definition of terms and provisions will certainly help you understand your policy.

A lot of drivers may not know whether their policy covers them or their car, but it depends on each individual case. The nature of loss also affects what the policy will focus on, the person or the vehicle.

If you have to borrow an uninsured vehicle, knowing what your policy will cover can help you better understand whether it will cover the vehicle or your person.

How Liability Coverage Works

Liability insurance pays for medical bills and third-party damages in case of an accident. This coverage will always follow the driver regardless of which car they are driving.

Liability coverage will not be provided under the following scenarios:

  • You regularly drive the car, and you’re not a covered driver
  • The trailer involved is not registered in your name
  • The vehicle is registered in your name but not under your policy
  • The car is owned by someone living in the same home

The only requirement is that the vehicle in question must be considered eligible under the covered vehicle category at the time of the accident.

Why Liability Insurance Follows the Driver

Liability insurance will follow the driver because it is designed to cover your assets. Your assets will still be at risk even if you’re driving a different car, borrowed or rented.

In such cases, your liability coverage will be considered secondary while the vehicles liability coverage will be regarded as primary.

This means that your liability coverage comes into play only when the primary insurer denies the claim, or if the vehicle was never insured at all.

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How Physical Damage Coverage Works

Physical damage coverage is not as straightforward as liability coverage, especially when you’re driving a borrowed vehicle.

When you’re loaning out your car to someone, it’s important to note that you’re also loaning out your physical damage coverage. If you’re driving a different car, your full coverage will not apply.

Some insurance companies will use different wording in your policy to indicate that your physical damage coverage will be transferred to someone else’s vehicle if the car is listed.

If the borrowed car is not insured, comprehensive and collision coverage won’t apply. However, if you’re renting a car under your name, the collision coverage and comprehensive car insurance coverage will apply.

Just like liability coverage, both the uninsured motorist coverage and the medical payments follow the driver and nor the car.

Penalties for Driving An Uninsured Car Without Auto Insurance

The penalties for driving a car without the minimum liability insurance are quite steep in many states in the U.S. As many people are caught on the wrong side of the state laws, the fines have been made even harsher.

Here are the common penalties throughout the country:

  • Imprisonment terms
  • Fines of up to $1,000
  • License suspension
  • Suspension of car registration
  • Vehicle impoundment
  • Reinstatement fees
  • Community service

It’s your responsibility as the car owner to acquire the necessary auto insurance for your vehicle depending on your state requirements.

If you get involved in an accident, your liability insurance coverage will cater to your assets and wages, but the physical damage may not be covered.

So if you’re in a situation with an insured driver and uninsured car, make sure you understand your policy first. Review your policy and see if you are covered for such scenarios. If not, make several online quote comparisons and find an insurance policy that will offer maximum cover at affordable rates.

Don’t forget about our comparison tool, which will help you to compare quotes from various companies.