Never lend your vehicle to anyone

Liability rests with you

“Could you possibly advise us on how best to handle international visitors using our vehicle? We are traveling to Europe this summer and friends from there will be using our car (two different families at two different times). I would like to ensure we are adequately covered in the event they should be involved in any kind of motor vehicle accident in our car. I also wonder, can they can take our vehicle into the U.S.?”

I don't have the necessary knowledge in this area of the law, so I spoke to a very knowledgeable acquaintance about this question.

He summed it up succinctly by saying, "Never loan your vehicle to anyone.”

If he or she is involved in a collision with your vehicle, you are the first person in line to pay the resulting legal bills because you are the registered owner and you have the ultimate responsibility, even if you were not driving or even in the vehicle at the time.

The picture my acquaintance painted was a multiple-vehicle collision involving injury or death.You have the usual $2 million liability coverage that most of us buy. Damages of $5 million are awarded. Where are you going to come up with the additional $3 million your insurance company will not provide? You may be looking at the driver or their estate to pay the bill but the courts will be looking at you. It's a very scary picture.

In addition, you are responsible for tickets issued by intersection safety cameras and can no longer nominate the driver to remove that onus.

Anyone with a valid driver's licence from another country appropriate for your vehicle may drive your vehicle with your permission and that includes using it to travel into the United States, as long as their customs requirements are met. A letter of authority may help ease the way if anyone becomes curious.

If you can't say no and do loan your vehicle to someone else, I would suggest you consult an Autoplan agent and your private insurer, if you have one. Tell them all about the circumstances of the loan and ask what they recommend you do to protect yourself.

It may mean increasing your coverage significantly, but the expense of doing that may be a huge bargain if the unthinkable was to happen.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. He has been writing his column for most of the 20 years of his service in the RCMP.

The column was 'The Beat Goes On' in Fort St. John, 'Traffic Tips' in the South Okanagan and now 'Behind the Wheel' on Vancouver Island and here on Castanet.net.

Schewe retired from the force in January of 2006, but the column has become a habit, and continues.

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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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