asked about General

almost 7 years ago

What if I accidentally get into a minor accident (eg. hit a tree/wall, hit another car) while test driving a new/used car that I am planning to buy?

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Crashing during a test drive

The driver has to take responsibility for the accident, which goes without saying. Even though the driver may argue that the vehicle is the dealership’s property and thus is under their jurisdiction, the fact remains that transferred temporary responsibility has been transferred to the test driver during the test drive. That means that the test driver must deal with the consequences of the accident through the dealer’s policy and bear any ancillary costs.

Depending on the nature of the accident, the dealer might suggest for the offending customer to purchase the vehicle, even though they are not legally obliged to do so. By doing so, the repairs for the vehicle will be your responsibility – you are now the owner of the car!

Generally, accidents that occur during a test drive are usually fairly minor. If the damages are pretty substantial then the right thing to do will be to absorb the damages and purchase the car. If the damage is too great, however, it would be unwise to purchase the car (or what’s left of the car) – do not let the dealership coerce you into making this one-sided deal.

What about the dealership’s insurance coverage?

Any dealer worth his or her weight in salt who sends a potential customer on a test drive will compel the test driver to sign forms, which transfers responsibility of all damages to the vehicle to the driver.

If the car is involved in a serious accident, or if the test-driver refuses to purchase the vehicle, the dealership will invoke their insurance’s coverage. However, the test-driver will still be required to pay a set amount for the damages he caused, usually calculated by the amount of deductibles that was set aside for the test-driven vehicle.

Using the test-driver’s own insurance coverage

Often, the dealership will suggest for the test driver to make a claim from their own policy rather than from of the dealers. This move is not unprecedented, especially if the test-driver was alone in the test-driven vehicle at the time of the accident.

However, the test-driver should think this through very carefully and consult with their insurance company before making any commitments. They will have to ensure that their insurance coverage extends to vehicles that are not owned by them. A baseless claim may even be viewed by insurance companies as fraudulent claims, and will result in even more trouble for the test-driver.

Still, there are many smaller dealers that do not purchase insurance for their vehicles, because of the hefty premiums and deductibles they will have to shoulder. This is where you should think twice before even entering this dealership – if the dealership cannot even spend to protect its fleet of vehicles, what makes it reliable?

Even if it means walking away from your dream car, you should not take the risk of driving a car that is completely uninsured – if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to use your own insurance coverage in the case of a test-drive accident. Even then, such measures are unnecessary if the dealer has coverage for its fleet of vehicles.

The Final Word On Crashing During A Test Drive

Being involved in an accident during a test drive must be everyone’s nightmare, but this nightmare can be cut short if you’re dealing with an honest, reputable dealer. However, there are always a few black sheeps in any industry who will force you into the purchase of the damaged vehicle because of the lack of insurance coverage on their fleet of vehicles.

As such, when test-driving the vehicle of your choice, the test driver must insist in finding out whether the dealer has purchased insurance coverage for the test-driven car.

Car insurance that covers potential owners in the event of a test-drive accident is the least of what car dealerships can do to protect their own vehicles. Dealerships who attempt to put the onus on potential buyers during a test drive show lack of professionalism – this may reflect bad work ethics or bad management, and you will do well to stay clear of these dodgy car dealerships


almost 7 years ago