Does my auto insurance cover other drivers of my car?

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Here's what you need to know...

  • Auto insurance companies expect you to add all household drivers who have access to the vehicles in your home on your policy
  • If a household driver has their own vehicle and their own coverage, they will be listed drivers and not rated drivers
  • Rated drivers are people who are in the home or have regular access to the car that can affect the premiums on the policy
  • An auto insurance policy does provide coverage for other drivers who’re borrowing your car and qualify for a permissive user status
  • Permissive users can’t live in the home, have regular access to the car or be unlicensed drivers
  • If someone who has their own insurance borrows your vehicle, their liability insurance would be primary to pay out in a claim

There may come a time where a friend or a family member will need to borrow your car. Whether they need the car temporarily to get to work or they’re doing you a favor by driving you to and from the airport, there’s a long list of reasons why someone who’s not listed on your insurance might get behind the wheel.

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Before you assume that your coverage will cover your friend just like it covers you, you’ll need to look at the terms and conditions of your insurance and provisions that might exclude a driver from being covered. Failing to list certain drivers could not just turn into a claims denial, it could lead to policy termination. Read this friendly and straightforward guide on how car insurance covers other drivers and you can make informed decisions before you lend your car out for a good purpose.

What is a rated driver or primary driver?

You’ll come across a lot of terms as you’re researching whether or not other drivers are covered under your policy. Driver status plays an important role in claims investigations. When there are drivers that you have let the insurance company know about, they’ll be either rated or primary drivers.

A rated driver is someone who’s listed on the policy, doesn’t have coverage elsewhere and that regularly drives one or more of the cars on the policy.

A primary driver is often the named insured or their spouse who primarily drives one of the covered autos. Just know that rated and primary drivers do affect premiums if they are inexperienced, young, have accidents or have moving violation convictions. If you’re worried about someone affecting your premiums in the home, you should always check their driving record before you offer to cover them under your own insurance.

What is an unrated driver or listed driver?

Another driver status that’s used by auto insurance companies is the unrated driver. The unrated driver, which is also called a listed driver, is a person either in the home or close to the insured that regularly drives the car. The only difference between the unrated driver and the rated driver is that the insurer knows about the unrated driver and their access to the vehicle but they don’t have an effect on the premiums.

Why would someone be a listed unrated driver?

You may be scratching your head at the moment wondering just why an insurance company would ever choose not to charge for a driver that can change the premiums on a policy and the risk present in the household. This is especially true when the driver has blemishes on their driving record and could drive up the rates. There’s only a few scenarios where someone would be unrated. Here are the most common:

  • A teenager in the home has just applied for their provisional license but doesn’t have a driver license
  • A teenager in the home doesn’t have a license or a permit and doesn’t plan to in the near future
  • Someone in the home or someone with access to the car has their own insurance (they won’t be rated because requiring double insurance is against the law and may be called deferred drivers)

What Policyholders Should do When They Have a Teen in the Household

If you have a teen in the home, you can’t just expect the insurer to be okay with it when they have a loss. Instead, you need to notify your insurer when teens in your household reach the age of 14. This helps underwriters with the company verify the driving and licensing status of the teen when they’re old enough to apply for a permit and then eventually a license.

If you don’t inform the company that you have a teen in the household licensed or not, it might appear as if you’re trying to hide them if you ever have to file a loss.

Since teens are the riskiest drivers statistic wise, you need to take action. To be safe, call your insurer and let them know as soon as your teen turns 14 and then let them know when they get a permit.

What about drivers that aren’t rated or listed?

The true questions stems with how does coverage work when you allow someone who’s not rated or listed to drive your car. How this works depends on the person, the coverage that’s being used, and the overall scenario. Most standard auto insurance policies do have provisions written into the policy that allow you to lend your vehicle to others to be used on an infrequent basis and for a short period of time. These drivers are called permissive users.

Can anyone be classified as a permissive user?

Not just anyone can be classified as a permissive user under a personal auto insurance policy. To receive this classification, you’ll need to meet the permissive user status criteria that’s set by the insurance company. All companies require the policyholder to give a permissive user either written or express consent before coverage extends like the driver was a listed driver on the policy. Other factors will depend on the carrier and the rules set by that carrier.

What is the most common criteria to achieve permissive user status?

While rules can differ from carrier to carrier, some of the rules are common across the board. Here is the most common permissive use criteria:

  • The driver can’t be using your vehicle for business purposes
  • The driver must be licensed to drive a private passenger vehicle
  • The driver can’t live in the policyholder’s home
  • The driver can’t be a child of the policyholder or their spouse
  • The driver can’t have regular access to the listed vehicle
  • The driver must be over the age of 25 and experienced behind the wheel

What if there’s a driver exclusion on your policy?

There could come a time where you’re asked to sign a driver exclusion agreement because you have a high-risk driver in your home. If you’re asked to do this, the driver named on the exclusion will no longer affect your premiums. While this is good, you have to remember that they won’t be covered for any type of loss because they’re specifically excluded from being rated or given any type of coverage extension. If this driver does drive your vehicle, don’t sign an exclusion or you’re putting yourself at risk.

Are there any policies that don’t cover other drivers?

The standard personal auto insurance policy will cover other drivers, but some policy forms don’t. One policy that’s becoming overly popular is the named driver policy. Under this type of coverage form, only those who are named on the policy will be covered driving the car.

Since coverage is so cut and dry and investigations are easier, you’ll receive a break on your premiums for choosing the substandard type of plan.

As you can see, there’s not a definitive answer on whether your policy covers other drivers. It depends on the situation and how your policy is arranged. If you’d like to price standard insurance when you add a new household driver, use an online rate comparison tool. This will show you instant quotes and will help you find out if you’re getting the best rate through your current insurance company. Start comparing car insurance rates now by entering your zip code in our FREE tool below!

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