I borrowed my friend's car and got in a minor accident, which was my fault. Will my friend's insurance policy pay for the damages to the other vehicle?
Yes, most likely. Drivers occasionally operate cars that aren't their own. Almost all states require car owners to buy liability coverage, which covers damage to the other car if you're at fault in an accident when driving someone else's vehicle, so long as you're not excluded from coverage.
In your case, your friend's liability insurance will likely pay to repair the damages to the other driver's car. To find out, check the policy and contact the agent if you haven't done so already. If your friend's insurance gets maxed out, your insurance policy would be tapped as secondary coverage. But because you said the accident was minor, this probably won't happen.
In the meantime, here's some basic information about what kinds of drivers and vehicles liability policies and optional insurance policies usually cover. Liability coverage is generally similar from policy to policy, but optional coverage varies greatly.
If you cause an accident that damages someone else's car, "property damage" liability coverage usually pays for repairs to the other vehicle. Most states require car owners to have liability insurance, though a few states allow owners to forgo insurance if they can show that they have the financial resources available to pay damages after an accident. But even when liability insurance is in place, disputes sometimes come up about whether the driver or vehicle in the accident is included or excluded from the policy.
Here are the usual inclusions.
In addition to the driver named on the policy, liability coverage usually includes any licensed driver who is:
In addition to the vehicles identified in the policy, liability coverage typically covers:
Collision, comprehensive, and other optional coverages cover the vehicles identified in the policy when operated by drivers identified on the policy. Some policies also cover spouses and family members who aren't listed, but others do not.
Policies differ significantly regarding the applicability of optional coverages when third parties not listed on the policy drive insured vehicles. So, owners should check their policy or contact their agent when someone not listed on the policy will be driving their vehicle.
For in-depth information about cars and driving, get Nolo's Encyclopedia of Everyday Law by the Editors of Nolo. This guide also has lots of information about general legal topics.