Taking a car for a test drive is an important (and arguably the most fun) part of the car-buying process. However, while rare, an accident can occur while you’re test-driving a car that isn’t quite yours yet. When and if this happens to you, figuring out whose insurance will cover any damages and accident-related injuries can get complicated.
If you’ve been involved in a test drive accident, here’s what you should know about the claims process.
What To Know Before Taking A Test Drive
Before you take a car off the lot for a test drive, keep these tips in mind:
- Car dealerships are required to carry fleet insurance on any and all vehicles in their lot, and the test driver is usually considered a covered driver in the event of an accident.
- If you’re involved in an accident, follow the same steps you would after any car accident.
- Your own car insurance will transfer to any vehicle you are test-driving, so whatever coverage you have in place for your own vehicle will apply if you are in a collision during a test drive.
Determining Who Is At Fault For The Accident
Determining fault is one of, if not the most important, components of any valid car accident claim. Determining who is at fault for the accident matters because whoever is deemed to be at fault will be liable for any resulting damages. Since New York State is a comparative fault state, one or both drivers can be found at fault for a car accident.
If you were involved in a car accident during a test drive, do exactly what you would do if you were in an accident with your own vehicle:
- Check yourself or any passengers who were driving with you for any injuries.
- Call 911 and request the police respond to the accident scene. A police report will be a vital piece of evidence when filing a claim for personal injury or other damages.
- Gather contact information from any witnesses in the area and get the other driver’s name, license number, insurance information, and contact number.
- Take photos and videos of the accident scene. You can never have too many photos as evidence.
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible after your accident. Even if you feel like you don’t have any injuries, a physician may be able to diagnose subtle injuries that can worsen over time if left untreated.
When it comes to determining liability in test drive accidents, there are no special rules that release test drivers of any liability. For example, if you rear-end another driver at a red light while on a test drive, you will likely be found liable for the accident unless you believe a vehicle defect or some other mitigating factor caused the accident.
Whose Insurance Will Cover The Accident?
Everyone who is involved in a test drive accident wants to know one thing: whose insurance is going to cover the damages incurred? The answer really depends on how the accident happened.
Your Car Insurance
If you were found to be responsible for the accident, the dealership and/or other parties involved can bring a claim against your insurance for any personal injury or property damage.
Your own car insurance will pay for any losses up to the percentage you are found to be liable for the accident up to your policy limit. For example, if $100,000 of damages were incurred, and you were found to be 70% at fault, your insurance would be responsible for $70,000 of those damages.
The Other Driver’s Car Insurance
On the other hand, if the other driver is found to be responsible for the accident, you and the dealership can bring claims against the driver’s insurance company for damages and/or any personal injuries that resulted from the accident.
If the other driver is uninsured or does not have adequate coverage to pay for the damages they incurred, the dealership may have to use their own fleet insurance to cover any property damage, and you may have to turn to your own SUM coverage for any damages that exceed the no-fault limit.
The Dealership’s Insurance
Car dealerships are required to carry fleet insurance, which will typically cover damages from a test drive accident. When a minor accident occurs, the dealership may absorb the costs of any property damage or losses through their fleet insurance – especially if they want your business.
Nevertheless, if the test driver is at fault for the accident, the dealership may pursue a third-party claim under the test driver’s liability insurance coverage for any damages to the vehicle. How the dealership handles the situation will likely depend on the circumstances of the accident and the extent of damages and injuries incurred.
Some dealerships will make test drivers sign liability waivers to remove the dealership from any liability in the event of an accident. Liability waivers are designed to transfer any and all legal responsibility from the dealership to the test driver in the event any damages occur.
Although most dealerships will not require a liability waiver to be signed before a test drive, be sure to read and fully understand your responsibilities as a driver before you sign one.
How A Car Accident Attorney Can Help
If you’ve been involved in an accident while test-driving a vehicle, contact a trusted attorney to discuss your options. Test drive accidents can be more complex to handle than your average car crash case and can be especially difficult to navigate if personal injuries are involved.
When choosing to hire an attorney, be sure to work with an attorney who has experience in handling car crash cases of all types. An experienced attorney will prove extremely helpful to your claim by acting as your representative in dealing with the insurance company.
Content checked by the personal injury attorney Ross Cellino. As a family man and a trial attorney, I pride myself on winning cases and serving the community. With over 35 years of experience, I understand the function of a jury, how juries arrive at conclusions, and the role that the jury plays in administering justice. I know how to win cases. You can find us in Manhattan, Buffalo, Melville, Rochester, Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens and other locations throughout New York.
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