If you own a car, chances are that at some point you have let someone borrow it or drive it with your permission. Whether it is a friend borrowing your truck to move their sofa or a coworker offering to go a pick up lunch in your car, lending out your car usually seems like a fairly harmless act. But what if the person you loan your car to gets into an accident? Typically, a car insurance policy covers named drivers and household members, which, depending on the policy, can include spouses and children. But when an individual who is not on your car insurance gets in an accident, there can be serious problems.
What is a permissive driver in South Carolina?
South Carolina law has defined a certain class of drivers as permissive users. This category covers everyone who uses your vehicle with your permission who is not listed on your insurance policy. This permission can be express or implied. However, not every driver can be recognized as a permissive driver and sometimes the difference lies in the terms of your policy.
The permissive use doctrine does not include when your vehicle is being used for business purposes such as delivery or visiting a client or when it is being used by an unlicensed driver. If your insurance policy recognizes the permissive use doctrine your insurance will follow the vehicle.
What limits are placed on a permissive driver?
The limits placed on a permissive user can often depend on their relationship with the policyholder and whether the permission given was express or implied permission. Scope of permission also plays an important role in South Carolina.
Courts have taken three different approaches when assessing the limits of a permissive user’s permission. The first approach states that once permission has been given by the policyholder, the permissive user can continue to use the vehicle no matter how significantly they deviate from the original permission. Under this theory, you could give a friend permission to drive to a neighbor’s house and even if they drive all the way across town and go to a party, they would still be covered under the insurance party.
The second approach courts have adopted is the minor deviation rule, which means that only slight variations from the initial permission are permitted. South Carolina has adopted what is known as a conversion rule. The conversion rules says that when a policyholder gives another individual permission to use the vehicle, the person who is borrowing the vehicle must only use the vehicle within the permission granted. There are no deviations, whether major or minor that is allowed.
Did someone borrowed your car and get into an accident?
When someone who is not on your insurance policy gets into an accident there can be unanticipated consequences. In order to protect your rights, it is important for you to contact an experienced accident attorney as soon as you can. You do not want someone else’s carelessness end up causing you financial and emotional damage.
Contact us at Surasky Law for a free consultation.