Our office arranges leases of cars for certain employees, but all employees are covered by the insurance policy. The policy states that for one accident in 3 years the driver doesn’t need to pay the deductible but any other accidents must have a deductible paid (he can choose at the time whether to pay the deductible or count it as his “freebie”). The cap on the deductible is 1000 Shekels.

Let’s say one employee (the “borrower”) borrows the car from another employee (the “owner”) and gets into an accident. The amount owed is 500 Shekels, less than the full deductible. When the borrower wants to pay the 500 Shekels the owner tells him, “Don’t pay since I probably won’t get into an accident before the 3 years are up.” Later the owner gets into an accident and the damage is 1000 Shekels, the full amount of the deductible. Since the owner has already used his “freebie” with the insurance company, he owes them 1000 Shekels.

My questions are:
1) Were there any implied conditions to this arrangement other than the words the two parties used?
2) Does the borrower owe any money?
3) If the borrower doesn’t owe any money, how much should he pay to be Lifnim m’Shuras ha’Din?

Answer:

1) It appears that no condition is implied. The owner was careful in his choice of words, and said that he “probably” won’t get into any more accidents, and on this basis exempted the borrower from paying. He was not certain that he would not get into an accident, so that it certainly cannot be assumed that the exemption was made conditional on the fact that he won’t have any accidents.

2) Therefore, the borrower does not owe any money; the owner exempted him from paying.

3) There is no formal obligation even “beyond the letter of the law.” However, it is certainly a worthy and correct gesture to chip in, at some level, in the 1000 Shekel expenses incurred by the owner, since were it not for the borrower’s accident and the owner’s magnanimous attitude, the owner would now not have to pay.

Best wishes.

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