What would you say if your neighbour – let’s call him Jack – asked to borrow your minivan because it’s big enough to carry home that couch he wants to buy? If you’ve lived beside each other for a while, there’s a good chance you’d say yes, right?

Before you say yes, there are a few things you should ask about:

  1. First of all, do you know Jack well enough to lend him your van?
  2. Is Jack’s driver’s licence good to go? There is always a chance something isn’t quite right with his licence that might make it invalid or restricted. (Or it might be expired.)
  3. Confirm that the furniture store is the only place he’s going – no other stops along the way.
  4. Ask that he be the only one driving your car.
  5. Ask if he has his own car insurance. If he does, ask him to bring along proof, just in case.
  6. If he doesn’t usually have his own car, a great question is to ask is when he drove last.
  7. If he happens to get a parking ticket or take a toll road, make sure he’s ready to pay the cost.
  8. If you don’t carry collision coverage on your vehicle, and Jack has a crash that’s his fault while he’s driving it, is he prepared to pay for the damage to your car?

These may seem like awkward questions to ask for such a simple request, but you’re asking because you are essentially letting your neighbour borrow your car insurance along with your car. If any of his answers don’t sit well with you, take the opportunity to offer to pick up that couch for him, or suggest he rent a van.

If you’re the person borrowing the car, don’t just hop in and go. You have a few things to check as well:

  1. Make sure the current insurance slip is in the car along with the registration.
  2. Just as when you are driving your own car, be sure you have your driver’s licence with you.
  3. Make sure there is proof somewhere that it’s okay for you to borrow the car (even a text message or the owner’s phone number will do).
  4. Make sure everything is working well before driving away, the same way you would with a paid rental. Together with the owner, check for scratches, signals, brake lights, etc.
  5. Again as with a rental, make sure you’re familiar with the car’s switches and controls. You don’t want to be distracted by trying to find the wipers, hazards or high beams when you suddenly need them.

Did you know?

  • If you get pulled over while driving a car belonging to a friend who has insurance but the policy has expired or the proof of insurance isn’t in the car, that goes on your driving record, not your friend’s, and it’s your ticket to pay.
  • If you trust Jack and let him borrow your car regularly, but he’s not listed as a driver on your policy, call your car insurance provider and ask if you should have him added to your policy as an additional driver — remembering that his driving record could affect the cost of your coverage, or even prevent him from being added to your policy.
  • Before lending your car, the first thing you should do is check with your car insurance provider to see if there are any special terms or restrictions on your policy.

Sun Life Financial does not insure, administer or act as an agent in respect of the car and home insurance provided by Belair Insurance Company Inc., The Nordic Insurance Company of Canada and Trafalgar Insurance Company of Canada.