In Ontario, as the owner of a motor vehicle, you need to have auto insurance.

What happens if someone drives your car and gets into an accident? Can you be liable and, if you are, will you be covered by your automobile insurance coverage? For example, consider the situation of a friend, neighbour or your child driving your car and then injuring someone or damaging property in a collision.

Whether you are found liable for damages as a result of your negligence, and whether you will be covered under your insurance policy, will depend on the facts.

Consent to Use Your Car

A significant factor will be whether you gave the other person permission to drive your car. To avoid being liable for loss or damage by reason of negligence, it is up to you, as the car owner, to prove that you did not give consent to the other person to drive your car.

Consent can be express or implied. Although it has been argued that leaving keys on a hook in a conspicuous place is implied consent, a judge may not necessarily accept that position. All the facts of the case need to be considered to determine whether consent was provided.

Fit to Drive

As the owner of the vehicle, you have a duty of care to ensure that any person who drives your car is fit to drive it. Before you give someone permission to drive your car, some questions to consider include:

  • Does the person have a valid driver’s licence and is the licence subject to any conditions?
  • Is the person impaired in a way that would affect the safe operation of a car?
  • Does the person have a good driving record, or is there a history of driving accidents?

Your Auto Insurance Coverage

Insurance companies may decide to not cover your claim if you did not fully disclose information or changes related to vehicle use.

Unless you specifically exclude someone from your auto insurance, generally anyone in your household who is licensed to drive should be listed on your auto insurance policy. If you find yourself regularly allowing the same person to drive your car, you should be listing that person under your policy as well.

To determine if you need to adjust the list of drivers associated with your car, or what would be the appropriate insurance coverage, contact your insurance broker or agent.

If an accident occurred with your vehicle when someone else was driving, let Douglas Strelshik guide you through the insurance claims process and related legal process that may arise. For over 30 years, Douglas Strelshik has been representing drivers and owners of vehicles in vehicle insurance claims.