Let's say someone owns a car and rents it out to a friend. the owner tells the friend "you can't drive this car unless you put your own car insurance on the car" and has the friend sign a contract that specifies the same thing.

Now 5 months later the friend is driving the car without insurance and gets in an accident which harms someone else and someone else vehicle. Who is responsible for the damages? Would the owner of the car be responsible for anything?

This should be hypothetically in the United States and in New York.

  • Is this contract notarized and written under the supervision of a lawyer? For example, I believe the car owner needs to receive something in return for a contract to be legally binding. It can't just be about restrictions placed upon the friend. I suppose the "rent" part takes care of that.
    – DKNguyen
    Commented Mar 3, 2023 at 15:31

1 Answer 1


In the United States, car insurance is generally required by law in order to operate a motor vehicle. However, in this scenario, the owner of the car allowed their friend to use the vehicle on the condition that the friend obtained their own insurance coverage.

If the friend did not comply with this agreement and drove the car without insurance, they could be held personally liable for any damages or injuries they caused in the accident. This would include any harm caused to other people or their vehicles.

The owner of the car, who had required the friend to obtain their own insurance, may not be held directly responsible for the damages. However, it is possible that the injured party or their insurance company could try to hold the owner responsible under a theory of negligence, arguing that the owner should have taken steps to ensure that the friend was actually covered by insurance before allowing them to drive the car.

Ultimately, the specific details of the situation and the language of the contract between the owner and the friend would likely play a key role in determining legal liability.

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