In New York and New Jersey, car insurance attaches to a vehicle and not to the person driving it. An auto insurance policy may, therefore, cover an injured party’s damages even if the at-fault driver was unlicensed or uninsured.

The car accident lawyers at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman help our clients to navigate the often-confusing language in insurance policies to recover the compensation they deserve when an unlicensed driver is a party to an accident.

Which Persons Are Typically Covered by an Auto Insurance Policy?

Every auto insurance policy is a contract that defines the persons who are entitled to the benefits of insurance coverage. In general, that definition will include the policy owner and members of his or her immediate family, and other drivers that the owner allows to operate the insured vehicle.

Insurance companies frequently require a car owner to identify the members of his or her household who will be allowed to drive an insured car. An owner’s failure to list known authorized drivers in a policy may cause the insurer to deny coverage for auto accident claims, particularly if the person that caused the accident did not have a valid license.

The final answer to whether a licensed or unlicensed driver is covered by insurance will always depend on policy language.

Are You Liable if You Loan Your Car to an Unlicensed Driver?

Even if an insurance policy states that its coverage extends to persons that you allow to use your car, if you loan your car to an unlicensed driver, your insurer will likely look for ways to deny coverage if that driver causes an accident. Insurance policy language, for example, might specify that a driver will not be covered if the policyholder knows that the driver does not have a valid license. Under these circumstances, the policyholder might be deemed to be negligent and responsible for all damages caused by the unlicensed driver.

Will You Be Excused from Liability if You Cause an Accident with an Unlicensed Driver?

Liability for damages in automobile accidents will always depend on which party was negligent and caused the accident. The status of someone’s license and authority to operate a vehicle will not, in itself, create or excuse that person’s liability.

Can You Own a Car and Procure Auto Insurance if You Do Not Have a Driver’s License?

Auto insurers are generally unwilling to insure a vehicle if its owner does not have a valid driver’s license, and no auto dealer will allow a purchaser to drive a car away from a dealership without proof of a license. An insurance company might make an exception to this rule where, for example, an unlicensed purchaser is buying the vehicle for a licensed member of his or her household, or the vehicle is an antique or a collectible car that will be stored on the unlicensed party’s property.

Call Kantrowitz, Goldhamer, & Graifman

The car accident attorneys at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman have a long track record of success in recovering maximum damages for car crash victims. Please call us to schedule a private and confidential consultation with one of our car accident lawyers as soon as possible after your automobile accident. We will help you to understand your insurance coverage and the insurance reimbursements that may be available from the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage.