Question:

 

My name is Channie. I just recently got my license but I don’t own a car, and the only car I drive is my parents’ car.

One day I went to my friend Raizel. She is still in the middle of taking Drivers’ Ed, but her parents, since she is their only child and they are well to do, decided to already buy her a car. Hers is a new BMW sports car. It looked so sleek and inviting, sitting and waiting for her in their garage.

We were talking for a while and then we decided it was time to get out a little and go shopping. The mall was far and her parents not home… what could we have done? We decided to take her car. Since she still didn’t have her license, I would do the driving.

At first I was a little scared to drive her car, being that it was all so new,( and my license is also pretty new…) but I soon got the hang of it and drove with confidence like the teacher at Driver’s Ed taught me.

The mall was nice, we found some good stuff and some sales. On the way back I must have been tired (we hadn’t gotten coffee) and I parked a little too close to the garage. The car got bumped up and the front fender looks like it might fall off. As we got out to see the damage, she cried out, “Oh no! I completely forgot! This car has no insurance since my parents knew I still could not drive in it. Now who will pay for the repairs?”

Indeed, who is obligated to pay for them?

Answer:

Driving is a dangerous occupation and should be done with utmost care. Knowing about her insurance or lack thereof, does not change the Halacha. It all depends on you — if you could have prevented the accident or not. If you could have prevented it – you are obligated to pay for the damages.

Sources:

Even people who have Comprehensive Auto Insurance it may not cover damages for another driver. In addition, some poskim state that even where there is insurance, the person who caused the damages may be required to pay for them, see Or Somaiach Hilchos Sechiros 7:1, Shut Maharsham vol. 4 chapter 7 and Shut Tzitz Eliezer 18:67. So the insurance would not have helped in this case.

Apparently you do not have the status of a borrower since your benefit was the same as that of the owner; on the other hand you do fall under the category of a paid guardian (renter) since you too, derived benefit from the ride. In addition there is not exemption here of “the owner is with you” since the owner did not drive the car as she still did not have her license. If the owner of the car had driven it when the second driver entered, there would be room to exempt you since the owner is with you in your work of driving.

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