You do not need insurance to drive someone else's car but there are risks inherent in operating that car. You are taking a chance of having insufficient insurance coverage and the potential for personal liability. Relying upon another person's insurance coverage might not be a good idea. You will not know until you have an accident and then it will be too late to protect yourself.
Auto insurance policies insure vehicles. Every policy lists authorized drivers. Whenever there is an accident or claim involving a vehicle and driver not listed on the policy, the first question asked is did the driver have permission from the owner to operate the vehicle. So if you drive someone else's car, make sure there is no question that you have permission from the owner. Make sure the owner has insurance and a valid insurance card in the vehicle.
If you drive someone else's car and you cause an accident, the owner's policy will cover you. It will pay for the damage to any other vehicles along with any personal injury. If the other parties and the owner's insurance company are unable to reach a settlement, then any lawsuit will name you as a defendant. The insurance company will hire an attorney to defend you and will pay all damages within the policy limits.
Collision coverage is voluntary insurance that is not required by state law. It covers damages to an automobile that is the fault of the person driving the vehicle. If you damage your friend's car he may not have collision insurance, and even if he does, it may not pay. So if you do not have your own collision coverage, be careful when driving. Understand the risk you are taking.
The biggest risk when relying on someone else's insurance is the possibility of damages exceeding the policy limits. When this happens you can be liable for the excess damages. Because you will not know the owner's limits, you are taking a chance. Any serious injury can result in high medical bills. The only way to protect yourself is with your own automobile policy with high limits that acts as secondary coverage. It will cover the risk.
Robert Alley has been a freelance writer since 2008. He has covered a variety of subjects, including science and sports, for various websites. He has a Bachelor of Arts in economics from North Carolina State University and a Juris Doctor from the University of South Carolina.