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Permissive Use and Teen Drivers

Permissive Use and Teen Drivers

Note: This was featured as part of our Wednesday segment on Charleston’s 105.5 The Bridge with Box in the Morning. You can catch us every other Wednesday morning at 8:50 am ET for the latest law tips and legal news. You can listen to the segment below:


Most people lend their car out to friends, roommates, and family members on a regular basis. However, if your friend causes an accident while behind the wheel of your car, you may not be able to get coverage depending on the situation. To prevent a loss of coverage, insurance companies will ask you to add family members and roommates who live with you onto your car’s insurance policy. If you give someone permission to drive your vehicle, they will generally be covered under the permissive use clause.

How does it apply to teen drivers?

For parents of teen drivers, the “permissive use” clause can increase your rates as your provider must insure a risky driver. If your teen is on your insurance policy, then your provider will insure your teen if he or she is involved in an accident. However, when you factor in your child’s teen friends, the permissive use clause can become challenging. Many parents instruct their teen to never let friends drive the family car. But what happens if your teen allows his or her friend to get behind the wheel, and the result is a tragic accident? Since you didn’t give your child’s friend permission to drive your car and he or she isn’t included on your policy, your provider won’t want to pay for the ensuing damages.

Are there exceptions?  

John Price represented a client whose son had loaned his car out to a friend, against his father’s wishes, and was involved in an accident. The son had momentarily swapped vehicles with his friend, with devastating consequences. Since the son’s friend was not included in the parents’ insurance policy, their provider was unwilling to pay for the damages involved. After serious consideration, John decided to argue that the insurance policy should extend coverage to include the general use of the vehicle instead of only the operation of it.

When John looked into the history of the case, he discovered that the parents bought the car to facilitate their son’s social life. Based on the expansive language of the policy involved, John convinced the Supreme Court that the nature of the vehicle’s use qualified it for coverage. The son was using the car in a way that his parents intended for him to, which was to socialize with his friends. Based on the permissive use clause, John and his team secured insurance coverage for the occupants of the car.

Talk to your insurance provider about how permissive use applies to your insurance plan. If you or a family member has been involved in an accident, don’t try to research the complex insurance and permissive use laws on your own. Call John Price and his dedicated team for experienced legal advice at (843) 552-6011.