What happens if you wreck a car on a test-drive? - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

What happens if you wreck a car on a test-drive?

Picture this: you’ve finally decided it’s time for a new car. You’ve done the research and found the car for your budget (and your dreams) and you line up a test drive. Things are going really well until the moment you crash the car you’re test driving. What do you do now?

Why it’s a problem

Since your insurance usually covers a specific vehicle and specific driving conditions, it can be scary to crash a test drive. You might not have any insurance at all, so you’re facing dealing with the car itself and with any damage you’ve done to other cars or property.

Even worse, what if you or another person has been injured? Who is responsible, and who pays for all the medical bills and potential loss of income or other financial difficulties? We never expect accidents at all — and least of all when we’re test-driving a new car — but it’s easy to see how scary it can be if they happen.

The dealer’s insurance

The good news is that Canada’s insurance bureau and most US state laws require dealerships to insure their cars the same way that a private person would. If you wanted to let someone borrow your car, you could only do so if they are legally licensed to drive. If they are, and if you permit them to drive your car, your insurance then covers them.

For example, an award-winning VW dealership has insurance for all their vehicles. They have to verify that you have legal authorization to drive before they let you behind the wheel. This means the dealership should be asking to see your driver’s license before they let you test drive in the first place.

Paying for injuries

If you’re injured in a car accident when test driving a car, even if you were at fault, the dealership may be responsible for your medical bills. It all depends on whether or not you have your own policy. If you do, then your own accident benefits will pay these claims.

If you don’t have an auto policy or don’t have one yet, then the dealership’s insurance will be the first entity responsible for paying your medical bills and any other injury claims.

Signing liability waivers

In some cases, a dealership may ask you to sign a liability waiver before they allow you to test-drive a car. In most cases, these waivers are boilerplate. If you sign one, you are acknowledging that you accept all responsibility for any damage if there is an accident.

The problem is that these waivers are not popular with potential buyers. They often scare away would-be customers, and that means the dealership loses out on sales. On the other hand, if a dealership doesn’t have to ensure test drives then their garage insurance premiums will be lower. This usually means the cost of their cars is lower, too.

What you should do

What should you do if you get into an accident while test-driving a car? Follow the same procedure you would if the car were your own. Stay calm, make sure no one is injured, and call an ambulance if they are. Then move the cars out of the road if it is safe to do so.

Report the accident to the police as soon as possible and ask for instructions. They will tell you if you need to go to a collision center or if an officer is coming to the crash site. Call an Ottawa personal injury lawyer to make sure you have the protection and advice you need to stay safe.

Once you’ve done all those things, you can engage with the dealership to find out what their insurance covers and any next steps.

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