In most states, including California, the insurance coverage follows the car rather than the driver. Unfortunately, you are legally responsible for damages caused due to the negligence of the driver when your car is in an accident, even if you weren’t driving. This is because you are responsible as the owner of the car for damages caused by the driver of your car up to the minimum liability limits required for the registered owner of a vehicle in your state. This is known as the ownership responsibilitystatute. The exception occurs when your car has actually been stolen. A friend who takes your car without permission will most likely be covered by your insurance company, at least to the minimum limits required by your state’s ownership responsibility law. In California, that limit is 15,000 per person, $30,000 per accident for injuries caused to a third party, and $5,000 for property damages.
There is also a legal issue known as implicit permissive use which boils down to mean that if the driver had access to the keys, he had your implied permission to drive the car. Because this issue can be stickylegally, you should always report the accident to your insurance company so that they may determine if liability insurance will apply for the driver. There are some circumstances where your insurer may determine that liability coverage does not apply for the driver. In most states, including California, implicit permissive use is usually found to apply, but, as stated above, you should always report any accident, regardless of who was driving or whose fault the accident was, to your insurance company.
Your collision coverage will apply for damages to your insured automobile regardless of who was driving the car. If the police determine that your car was stolen, then your comprehensive coverage will apply for the damages to your vehicle. If you have rental coverage, it will also apply for the time your car is being repaired or until your vehicle is declared a total loss. Your Medical Payments coverage will apply for injuries to the driver or passengers in your car.
However, there may be a reason in certain cases where liability coverage will not apply for the driver, and your insurance company will do an investigation to determine if coverage applies.