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Honey, Can You Lend Me Your Car?

Aniket Thakkar Aniket Thakkar 16 February 2017

It’s made to sound so easy in the Beatles song – “Baby, you can drive my car”, and they’re off with a “Beep beep'm beep beep yeah!”

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Next time someone requests to borrow your car, give it a second thought before saying ‘Yes’. I don't want to sound poignant here, but I have seen and heard of people lending their car to someone quite near and dear and later regretting it big time.

Rare? Yes. But scary nonetheless.

In fact, you must ask a few questions before allowing another driver head into the sunset in your car or before borrowing someone else’s wheels. Let’s begin with what you need to be cautious of if someone requests to borrow your expensive car.

Can I Borrow Your Car? Well, Not Before I Grill You!

Is the borrower legally permitted to drive?

If you know that the borrower is a mature driver, who lives in your own state/city or is on a visit from another city, you don’t need to whine. However, if he’s an amateur or does not own a car himself, then it should raise an alarm. Lending your car to someone who’s just learning to drive or someone who doesn’t drive on a consistent basis can be a bit hair-raising considering the trouble it might invite on the road. Similarly, if he/she has a driver’s license from a different country, you might want to check the provisions of our nation to that effect. The driver may need to apply for an International Driving Permit before he or she arrives in India.

Does the borrower have a safe driving history?

If they have a history of fender-benders, while you prefer to keep your car in pristine condition, it’s only human to deny the request. After all, your car is your cherished possession, and while you care so much for its shipshape form, it’ll only lead to greater disappointments if you demand the same level of assurance and dedication from a third person.

Is my car insurance up-to-date?

The Motor Vehicles Act (1988) mandates you to at least have a third-party liability insurance for your car. Hence, make sure that your insurance is up-to-date. Similarly, some policies offer personal accident cover only for the owner-driver. You have to request specially for the same if you want anyone else included in the policy besides you. Hence, be informed that the insurance company will not cover this dear friend of yours if he gets injured in a road mishap or if he bumps the car into another (even in a parking lot).

Likewise, a third-party liability cover will protect you against any damage/injury caused by you to a third party. However, the insurance company will not cover any damages caused to your own car. While we understand that you are quite a cautious driver, you cannot expect the same level of care from other drivers. So, before you lend your car to anyone, at least get a comprehensive car insurance for your car. After all, a comprehensive car insurance will not only cover your own car for any damages but will stand by you in the case of other incidents such as theft, damages arising out of natural calamities, etc.

What do they intend to use the car for?

If your car is being used for any kind of commercial pursuit, like driving for a ridesharing arrangement, you’ll need to re-visit your decision. We hope you understand that one of the exclusions in your car insurance policy states that the damages caused to your car will not be paid for if you use the car for anything other than its intended limit of use.

Also, it’s your duty to inquire if they plan to drive the vehicle into another neighboring country crossing the border. Customs officers are on high alert for car theft at the border security. If the need be, make a point to issue an authority letter declaring they’re authorized to take your car across the border.

How often will the borrower use the car?

Your recently licensed nephew may phrase it as ‘borrowing’ the car, but if he is using it to go to sports training or the mall every day, then you need to be cautious. The greater the running of your car, the higher are the chances for any catastrophic events that might require raising a claim on your car insurance policy. Remember, even a small claim made on your car insurance can zero down the earned No Claim Bonus. Why take risks?

Now that we acknowledge that there could be reasonable nitty-gritty involved when you’re lending your car to anyone, let’s analyze the reversed situation – when you have to borrow a car from your friend or a family member.

If You Are Borrowing Someone’s Car…

Do I have the approval to borrow the car?

If not, you could slam into a legal dispute. Many times we believe that if we're a direct family member of the car’s owner, we have authority—but it’s still polite to ask. Don’t take things for granted under any situation.

What are the laws surfacing driving?

As the driver, it’s your obligation to follow the local rules of the road, from licensing requirements to speed limits. You should also evaluate insurance provisions to make sure you’re adequately covered, and be sure to inquire with the owner. If the car you wish to borrow doesn't have a comprehensive car insurance protection and you end up in some road accident, you may very well expect yourself paying for those damages out of your own pocket; at least that’s what the courtesy demands.

What kind of fuel should I fill up the car with?

You’re well aware that these days many car models come in both variants – petrol and diesel. Hence, should the need arise to refuel the tank, it’s nice to know which fuel variant to go for. Driving the car with an incorrect fuel type could lead to severe complications in the car’s engine. Also, they were generous enough to lend you their car—the least you can do is return it with a full tank.

Where do you store the registration and insurance information?

It is mandatory by law that you maintain certain documents in the car at all times. They are: your driver's license, a valid car insurance policy, the Registration Certificate (RC) of the car, etc. It’s necessary to be prepared, instead of ransacking the glove compartment if something goes awry. If the owner doesn’t have copies stored in the car, get the same done before you zoom around in it.

Where do you generally take the car for routine maintenance?

Although no one is expecting, but believe me, it’s a smart thing to get the name and number of their garage/workshop or dealership in advance for an absolute repose, while you’re on the road. With this gesture, the owner will be at ease while handing over the car keys to you. The idea about someone being concerned about his prized possession is just too comforting sometimes.

Also, keep yourself aware of the network garages for the car insurance. In case a claim needs to be raised, it’s good to know which garage will provide a cashless claim settlement.

Can I drink, eat or smoke in the car?

Well, this may sound funny to you, and we certainly don't expect you to ask this question directly, but do understand—while eating, drinking or smoking in the car may not be a big deal for you, it may leave the owner in fumes if he discovers that half-eaten burger under the seat or those stubborn stains on his expensive upholstery. You can assess how the owner keeps his car right at the first glance.

In recent times, incidents of underage driving have taken the nation by rage. While you may be impressed to see your young children zooming past in your car, it's smart to consider the repercussions it may bring in. Hence, while lending your car to anyone consider it through carefully and assess the likely repercussions before you say ‘Yes’.

Have you ever let your neighbor or friend to borrow your prized possession? Would you do it again? We would love to hear about your experiences - good or bad. Share them in the comments below.

Aniket Thakkar
Written by Aniket Thakkar
He lives off TV shows, movies, junk food, comics and sarcasm. When he is not working as a freelance imaginary friend to other beings like him, he works as VP of Marketing at Coverfox.