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Does Insurance Follow the Car or Driver in Oregon?


Whether you are new to Oregon or you have just been involved in a car accident, you may be wondering whether car insurance follows the car or the driver in Oregon. In other words, when you purchase a car insurance policy in Oregon, will it only protect you in whatever car you are driving, or will it protect anyone driving the car you own or lease? 

In Oregon, car insurance follows the car. Oregon residents purchase auto liability insurance policies from an agent or a company. The auto insurance will cover the vehicles listed on that policy, not any car that the driver happens to drive or ride in as a passenger.

In Oregon, Each Driver Must Insure Their Own Vehicle

The owner of each vehicle has the legal responsibility to ensure their vehicle. If the vehicle owner lends it to someone else, they must keep the vehicle covered through an insurance policy for at least basic, minimum coverage. In Oregon, it is illegal to drive a vehicle without automobile liability coverage. The minimum insurance that a driver must have is:

  • Bodily injury and property damage liability
    • $25,000 per person;
    • $50,000 per crash for bodily injury to others; and
    • $20,000 per crash for damage to others’ property.
  • Personal injury protection
    • $15,000 per person.
  • Uninsured motorist
    • $25,000 per person;  and
    • $50,000 per crash for bodily injury.

Every time someone registers a vehicle in Oregon, they must provide their insurance policy number. Likewise, when someone in Oregon purchases a light vehicle trip permit, they must provide their insurance number. There are a few exemptions to this rule, but generally, every person who owns a car must ensure that vehicle with the minimum amount of coverage listed above.

What if I am in an Accident While Driving My Friend’s Car?

What happens if you are driving in your friend’s vehicle with their permission when a car accident occurs? You may be hoping that your extensive car insurance policy will cover the accident. In Oregon, your insurance policy will not extend to another vehicle that you happen to be driving. Many people have the wrong idea that since they are covered to drive the car listed on their insurance policy, that coverage will extend to any vehicle they drive. This type of understanding could end up hurting you down the road.

For example, suppose you drive a car without insurance, but the tags are good. You are borrowing the car quickly to drive your friend to a doctor’s appointment. You take his car because it has more room, allowing your friend to prop up his injured leg. You may tell the owner that it is okay if he does not have insurance because you have full coverage insurance on your car. You think that your insurance will protect you.

Your Insurance Policy Does Not Extend to a Car Your Borrow

Your full coverage policy will not protect you in this scenario. You may be covered for your own medical bills if you have a car accident because your personal injury protection (PIP) coverage follows you around as the driver or passenger of another car or as a pedestrian. However, your liability insurance does not follow you around.

In the best-case scenario, you may be pulled over, the borrowed vehicle may be impounded, and you will receive a ticket for driving with no insurance. The worst that could happen is that you are involved in a car accident and seriously injured. You find out the hard way that your own comprehensive insurance policy does not cover the car accident. You could even have a one-year suspension on your driver’s license after getting an SR-22 requirement.

What Happens if You Let Someone Borrow Your Car?

As the owner of your vehicle, you are required to purchase bodily injury liability, property damage liability, uninsured motorist protection, and personal injury protection (PIP). PIP does follow the driver, unlike bodily injury liability coverage. Suppose you let a friend borrow your car while his car is in the shop being repaired. Your friend causes an accident while driving while under the influence of alcohol.

In Oregon, the bodily injury liability insurance you have purchased for your vehicle will cover the injuries of the other drivers or passengers. Your property damage liability insurance will cover the damage to the other driver’s vehicle. However, if your friend who borrowed your car causes an amount of damage that exceeds the limits of your insurance coverage, their liability policy can act as secondary coverage. Remember that their coverage will only kick in to help pay for the expenses after yours has been exhausted.

If someone else caused an accident while driving your vehicle, you would not need to use your PIP or MedPay coverage. PIP and MedPay follow the driver. If your friend who borrowed your car becomes injured, he will need to use his PIP and MedPay coverage because it followed him into the car.

You will have to use your own collision and comprehensive insurance to cover damages to your vehicle, even though you were not in the vehicle when the collision occurred. These are optional and additional types of coverage that can pay for your car to be repaired regardless of who was driving. The claim will still be on your policy, and your rates may increase as a result.

Discuss Your Case with a Portland Car Accident Lawyer

As you can see from the discussion above, determining which insurance should cover bodily injury and property damages can become complicated. This is especially true when you are borrowing someone else’s car or when someone else has borrowed your car and is involved in an accident.

Have you been seriously injured in a car accident? Are concerned about getting your medical expenses and other expenses covered? In that case, you need an experienced lawyer on your side. Contact DuBois Law Group, today to schedule your free initial consultation to learn more about how we can protect your right to compensation.