A courtesy car is a vehicle provided by a repair shop or dealership that you can drive temporarily, if your own car isn’t driveable. Those in the know sometimes refer to it as a ‘loaner car.’
What is a courtesy car?
Dealerships and repair shops may offer customers cars to drive while their car is being serviced. They generally offer these loaners as a courtesy, though doing so is sometimes required by your car’s warranty.
Don’t set off on an impromptu road trip with your new ride, though. You can drive this car for the duration of your service appointment but will need to return it shortly after the shop or dealership calls or sends a text message letting you know that your car is done.
How do you get a courtesy car?
When you call the repair shop to make an appointment for repairs, even if it’s something as minor as an oil change, ask if they have a loaner you can drive. As long as you can provide proof of insurance and show them a valid driver’s license, it’s fairly common for them to have a courtesy vehicle available.
If you purchased a new car at a car dealership with an extended warranty from the manufacturer, your contract could require that they supply you with a courtesy car. (You also might have to take your vehicle to their service center for repairs.) Often, you’ll be given a new car—in the hopes you’ll enjoy the unofficial test drive and decide to upgrade to a new vehicle. Well played, dealership.
What if you bought a used car? If you bought a certified pre-owned vehicle, the dealership might have the same obligation to give you a loaner when you make a service appointment. Their service department should be able to look up your warranty when you call.
Do I need separate insurance when I’m driving a courtesy car?
Worried about insurance coverage while behind the wheel of a courtesy car? Don’t be.
Most car insurance policies include coverage for a courtesy car, sometimes called a temporary substitute car, though sometimes you have to pick a repair shop from the insurer’s approved list to qualify. You’re covered at your usual policy limits and don’t need short-term insurance.
What if you don’t want to use a courtesy vehicle?
For repairs that will take longer, or are the result of an automotive accident, you might not want to use a courtesy vehicle. Most car insurance policies have clauses that reimburse the cost of a rental car, but Lemonade will also reimburse transportation expenses like Lyft or Uber while your car is being repaired. It’s a great option if you live in an apartment building and don’t want the hassle of registering a loaner car with your landlord for such a short time.