Now that the summer is on the horizon, there may be situations wherein you choose to lend your vehicle to someone else. For example, maybe a friend has asked to borrow your truck to go camping or to haul their fishing boat to the lake.
When a friend or a family member asks to borrow your vehicle, you may be inclined to agree without giving it too much thought. While it is certainly your right to lend your vehicle, it is important to understand some of the potential legal risks before handing over the keys to that friend or family member.
If you do plan on lending your vehicle to someone, you should be aware of that person’s driving abilities and driving history. You must also trust the driver. Is that person responsible? Also, be sure to set clear expectations as to when and under what circumstances the borrower may use your vehicle.
If you do lend your vehicle, you should keep the following in mind:
1. If you regularly lend your vehicle to someone, consider adding that person to your auto insurance policy as an occasional driver.
When you lend your vehicle to another driver in Ontario, you are also lending your automobile insurance to that person.
If your friend or family member is involved in an accident for which he or she is found to be at fault while driving your vehicle, your insurance premiums may increase. These increases can stay with you for several years.
If a person residing with you wishes to borrow your vehicle or if you lend your vehicle to someone on a regular basis, it is prudent to consider adding that person as an occasional driver under your insurance policy. In some cases adding another person as an occasional may cost a bit more, but it will be well worth it should something happen with your borrowed vehicle. If a borrower is not listed on your policy and he or she drives your vehicle regularly, your insurer may deny claims for accident benefits or personal injury.
2. Make sure the person borrowing your vehicle has a valid Driver’s Licence.
Verify that the person who will be borrowing your vehicle has a valid Driver’s License. If you lend your vehicle to someone who does not have a valid Driver’s Licence, or someone with a suspended licence, there may be serious consequences for you. If there is an accident, for example, there is a possibility that the insurance company will not respond to the claim. This could mean the friend who borrowed your vehicle – if injured – will not have access to compensation to assist with treatment or missed time from work. Or it could mean you – as the owner of the vehicle – will ultimately be held responsible for damages and injury claims arising from an accident. Your own personal assets may be exposed if an injured third party brings a personal injury claim and your insurer does not respond or defend on your behalf.
3. Store copies of your current vehicle registration and insurance details in the vehicle and inform the borrower of their location in case something happens.
If the person who borrowed your vehicle is stopped by the police for some reason, they will be able to efficiently access and provide the registration and insurance if requested.
Generally, if someone is charged with a traffic violation while driving your vehicle, dealing with the consequences will fall on his or her shoulders. In other words, that person’s insurance will be affected and he or she will be responsible for paying any fines or charges. However, if someone is caught operating the vehicle while impaired or speeding in excess of 50 KM/H over the limit, the vehicle may be impounded. If that vehicle belongs to you, you will have to deal with the inconvenience – and expense – of getting it back home.
Our Personal Injury Lawyers in Ottawa can help you with your Personal Injury Claim.