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Borrowing a car for travel in France and Italy

My very good French friend is willing to let us borrow his car to travel around France and Italy. I am wondering if there are any special rules, gotchas, tips and tricks for using a borrowed car. We are coming in from America and will have our licenses, passports, and also our international permits. Thanks, James.

Posted by
5 posts

We have insurance. He has insurance. I was planning on talking to our provider about coverage for Europe. Is that what you mean?

Posted by
4535 posts

Your insurance might not cover you, especially in Italy. Be very sure before you rely on that. His insurance might only cover the car, and not you personally. Make sure he is very clear on that. And be sure you are clear on any other limitations his insurance might have (deductibles and overall coverage) that would leave you exposed.

There are third party insurers that you can use for cases like this if you need to.

Posted by
2353 posts

I'd be surprised if your insurance covered you in a foreign country. I can not speak to how French insurance works - just be very clear about the coverage for you before you get behind the wheel. You should have it in writing in English unless you read French.

Make sure you are covered not only for liability but for comprehensive/collision to repair/replace his car in the event of theft/accident. I don't borrow cars because I would feel awful if I wrecked a friends car (its not just the car but all of the hassle & inconvenience) nor do I lend mine because I am not sure how I would handle it if a friend wrecked mine - not worth a friendship.

Make sure you have travel medical - just in case or your medical would be covered under whatever policy you get.

Insurance is very tricky.

Posted by
5 posts

All very good information. This is new territory for me. And, I have been going back and forth on car vs. train during the planning stages. My friend is quite insistent we use his car, which is nice, but, yes, I will compare his coverage with what I can get through my provider or a third party. Finally, I will need to look at over-all cost again - borrow vs. rent vs. take a train instead...

Posted by
6728 posts

Italy is often a special case in terms of insurance. Our US car insurance covered us in Europe; obviously you need to be very sure of this to rely on your insurance and be sure that you have medical coverage that will cover you and also liability insurance.

Posted by
3336 posts

We home exchange to Europe on a regular basis and always exchange cars with our home exchange partners. The owner of the car is the one who needs to secure insurance. Our US insurance company has nothing to do with it.
When we were in Switzerland last summer, the car we used, that belonged to the Swiss family we exchanged with, was insured by their company; they arranged with their insurer to have us covered. It was the same thing with the family in England we exchanged with. For their insurance company, they asked for our names, ages, license numbers, DMV records, and they had to pay a little extra in order to include us on their insurance. We have exchanged in France twice and each time the owner of both of those cars arranged for us to be covered through their insurance provider.
The other thing that we always do, as do our exchange partners, is put some sort of notarized letter into the glove compartment stating that the driver has the owner's permission to drive the car as well as the insurance information the proves coverage.
In all of our time in Europe, driving other people's cars, we have never once had to show proof of insurance or been questioned about driving a car that does not belong to us. There are plenty of expats driving around with license plates for the country in which they live and license plates from many countries driving around, so don't worry about it too much. Just be absolutely sure you are covered by their insurance. If you have an accident it will cause major problems for your friend and for you.

Posted by
28129 posts

My experience is the same as Anita's. I add my brother to my UK policy and he is fine to go. European insurance is generally on the vehicle not the driver, but the drivers have to be named to the insurer. Company cars are a different matter.