Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insurance...

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UPDATED: Jul 14, 2021

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For the majority of individuals with car insurance, the policy stays with the vehicle so anyone who drives the car is covered. There are some exceptions to this though, depending upon your state, your insurance company, and your specific insurance policy.

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It is important for people to know who is covered under their own policy before allowing anyone else to drive their vehicle. This will help you avoid the risk of high out-of-pocket expenses if that vehicle is involved in an accident.

In addition to who can drive your car under your policy there are specific details regarding the amount of coverage these people have that you will want to find out from your insurance company. There are also unique situations that present themselves including adding teen drivers to your policy or having foreign relatives drive your car under a foreign license.

Coverage for Friends and Family Who Drive Your Vehicle

In most states and with most policies friends and family can drive your car and be covered by your car insurance policy, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). In these cases, you must have granted permission for the person to drive your car, and that person must have a valid driver’s license. Many insurance companies want people who live in your household, and who will drive your car regularly, to be added to your policy.

When you allow someone to borrow your car you should never do so unless you know the person is responsible and trust him or her greatly. If a claim is made against your insurance policy, regardless of whether the accident was caused by you or not, your rates will most likely go up.

Agreeing to allow someone to borrow your vehicle should be a decision that is not taken lightly.

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State Exceptions

There are many exceptions to this; however. In certain states, including Florida, a person’s own auto insurance policy is primary and the policy associated with the car they are driving is secondary. Check with your state’s Department of Insurance to find out what your state’s regulations are regarding insuring your vehicle. You can find a link to your state’s website on the Insurance Information Institute’s website.

Insurance Company Exceptions

Besides states dictating who can be covered by your insurance company, your specific insurance company and policy will state who is covered. Therefore, it is very important that you thoroughly read your policy carefully. If you remain at all uncertain, contact an insurance agent working with your company and ask. In some cases, insurance providers will only cover people who are specifically listed on your policy.

In other cases, all licensed drivers will be covered, but only for the state’s minimum amount of coverage and not for the amount of insurance the policy is for. This minimum coverage is only for liability in most states and may not cover all of the expenses that could result from an accident in which the driver of your vehicle was at fault.

Even if you have purchased comprehensive or collision insurance, your friend or family member may not have access to this portion of the policy. Never just assume a person will be covered without first reading your insurance policy or contacting your provider. When speaking with an insurance agent be sure to ask:

  • Who specifically is covered under your policy?
  • How much coverage is available for drivers who borrow your car?
  • Do the names of other drivers need to be added to the policy or can they drive the car without being added?

Drivers without Their Own Insurance

If someone who does not own a vehicle and does not have car insurance wishes to borrow your car, this is possible to do. Make sure you check with your insurance company first to make certain the person is covered under your policy. If they are not, you have a couple of options:

  • They do not borrow your car
  • You add them to your policy
  • You request they purchase something called non-owner’s car insurance.

This is available for those who do not own a car but wish to drive a car belonging to someone else. It is frequently used by those who have a suspended license and wish to have it reinstated but need proof of car insurance through an SR 22 to do so.

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Adding People to Your Policy

Whether it is required by your insurance company or not, it is a good idea to add anyone living in your household and who will regularly drive your car to your insurance policy. Most policies allow a maximum of four people and/or four vehicles on one policy, so if you wish to add more than this you will have to purchase an additional policy.

The exception to this is if someone would be considered a high risk by insurance companies. By adding them to your policy, your rates will possibly be raised significantly. Some situations that could make a person a high risk in the eyes of insurance companies include:

  • A poor driving record characterized by multiple infractions or accidents
  • Having had a suspended license
  • Having been convicted of driving under the influence (DUI)
  • Driving a high amount of miles annually
  • Driving a vehicle considered to be less safe or more likely to be in an accident such as a sports car
  • A poor credit score

Excluding People from Your Policy

If there is someone whom you specifically do not want driving your car under your car insurance policy, you can opt to list them as excluded on that policy. Make certain they do not drive your car though because if they are in an accident your insurance company will deny the claims and you could have your policy cancelled.

Another time you may want to exclude someone is when you have a young adult living in your household who has their own car insurance. Your rates may be raised based on the assumption that they will have access to your vehicle unless you specifically exclude them from your policy.

Adding a Teen Driver to Your Policy

Since most states require individuals to be 18 or 21 years of age to purchase their own car insurance policy, a teen driver must typically be added to their parents’ policy when they first begin driving. It is also less expensive for them to be added to a policy than to purchase their own.

Still, adding a teen to your policy will raise your rates. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners says it can increase your rates by up to 50% to add a teenage girl and 100% to add a teenage boy to your policy.

Teen drivers should be added as soon as they receive their learner’s permit. When they pass their test and receive their driver’s license notify your insurance company that the teen driver is now licensed.

You also may be eligible at that point for discounts if your teen took a driver’s education course or receives good grades in school. Additional discounts to inquire about include multi-vehicle discounts or discounts for being with the same company for an extended period of time.

Often insurance companies will assign the most expensive car to the most expensive driver to insure, which is usually your teen.

The Insurance Information Institute recommends you contact your insurance company and have your teenager assigned to the least expensive vehicle. They however must only drive that vehicle.

The III also recommends you notify your insurance provider if your teen leaves for college and does not bring their vehicle. In this situation, your rates could be lowered.

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Allowing Foreign Drivers to Use Your Vehicle

When relatives visit from a foreign country, they may wish to borrow your vehicle while in the United States. If the individual has a current driver’s license from their country, they can legally drive your vehicle and be covered by your insurance policy if your insurance company allows this.

After 30 days in this country, they must apply for a U.S. driver’s license. Be careful though. Many of our rules of the road differ from those in other countries so the chances of an accident are increased with a foreign driver.

In the majority of situations, your friends and family members can borrow your vehicle and be covered by your insurance as long as they have a valid driver’s license and have been given your permission to use the vehicle. Some states and insurance companies have regulations that create exceptions to this.

Make sure you know your state’s regulations and the specific requirements of your insurance policy.

Contacting your insurance company before beginning to let others drive your car is a good idea. There are also situations where you will want to specifically add individuals or exclude individuals from your policy.

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