Laura Berry is a former State Farm insurance producer and insurance expert.

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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, mainly in the insuranc...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers Insurance CSR 4 Years

UPDATED: Oct 28, 2021

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Here's what you need to know...

  • A personal car insurance policy provides coverage for listed vehicles and drivers
  • If you are driving other cars, it’s important that they qualify for automatic coverage
  • When you’re driving non-owned vehicles, your liability coverage will automatically follow you when you drive vehicles that you’re borrowing or renting from a rental company
  • When your coverage automatically covers a newly acquired vehicle, it extends between 14 and 30 days
  • If you’re driving a vehicle that qualifies as a temporary substitute vehicle, both your third-party coverage and your first-party coverage will extend if you have a loss in the substitute vehicle

Auto insurance might seem like a straightforward concept, but the standard policy provides a lot more coverage than you might think. The declarations page describes who’s covered under the policy, what’s insured, when the coverage is active, and how much coverage is afforded. But it doesn’t describe whether you’re covered to drive other cars.

If you want to find out which non-owned vehicles are covered under your policy, you need to review the terms and conditions of your Personal Auto Policy contract. Most include a section dedicated to explaining how coverage will extend to vehicles that you don’t own and cars purchased during the term.

If your policy doesn’t cover driving another car, use our FREE comparison tool to get competitive rates on a policy that will!

How does coverage extend when you’re borrowing someone else’s car?

If you’re not the registered owner of the vehicle that you’re operating, your coverage still might pay for certain losses. The same is true for when someone borrows your car for a short time. If someone is driving your car regularly, they will need to be listed on your policy, though. The same is true for you. Let’s break down when you’re covered.

The scenario will dictate which auto insurance policy pays for a claim and which options will extend to the non-owned car.

If you’re borrowing a friend’s vehicle that you don’t have any insurable interest in, your liability coverage, uninsured motorist coverage, and medical payments coverage options will all extend to protect you and your assets. Liability coverage follows the driver on the policy and not necessarily the listed vehicle.

As a driver, you will probably find yourself in a position of driving someone else’s car or lending your car to someone temporarily. There are some things to know if something unexpected happens.

Car insurance will typically cover other drivers driving your car if they’re listed on the policy. So, this means that if you’re specifically listed on the car owner’s insurance policy, you’ll be covered when driving that car even if it’s not your own. If you rent the car from a rental car company, then you’re probably covered assuming you have permission for driving that vehicle.

You’ll want to check with your insurance agent to determine how you’re covered and what your auto policy limits are.

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Will my physical damage coverage pay if I damage the car I’m borrowing?

If you have comprehensive coverage and collision coverage on your policy, it won’t always extend to a borrowed car. In most situations, comprehensive and collision coverage follows the vehicle that’s listed on the policy.

If you’re just borrowing a car, the vehicle must be covered by comprehensive and collision for damage to be covered if you get into an accident.

If you’re borrowing or renting a car to use it as a temporary substitute to your covered auto, whatever coverage is carried on your vehicle will extend to the substitute.

If you carry full coverage and the car qualifies, your insurer may pay for comprehensive and collision losses while the car is in your possession. A car is a temporary substitute if:

  • Being serviced
  • Being repaired
  • Totaled after a covered loss
  • Broken down due to mechanical

Which policy pays first?

If you’re driving someone else’s car, it’s standard for the car’s primary policy to payout first. As soon as the limits of the primary policy are exhausted, the second policy would pay.

There are always exceptions to that rule, but in a majority of cases the car owner’s policy pays out first then your insurance pays second.

If you’re in an accident and the claimant has filed a claim against the driver of the car for their negligent actions, the primary insurer could deny the claim and put the entire burden of paying for damages on your carrier. This is not common, but it can happen from time to time, especially if any subrogation is involved.

Will your insurance cover a car that you own that’s not on your policy?

If you’re the registered owner of the vehicle you’re driving, your policy will only cover the vehicle if you acquired it after you activated your coverage. If you already owned the vehicle and you never added it to your policy, then the coverage will not extend.

Coverage extensions for newly acquired vehicles only last for a limited amount of time. If you buy a new vehicle that will be added as an additional covered auto, the broadest form of coverage on any of your vehicles will extend to the new car for between 14 to 30 days.

You should check your contract to see exactly how long you have to add the car without having a lapse in coverage. If you are replacing a vehicle that’s listed on your policy with a new car, the coverage from the original vehicle will extend to the new car for the remainder of the term.

If you don’t have full coverage on the original car, the new car will receive four days of automatic full coverage with a $500 deductible. If you don’t call within four days, this coverage will drop.

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What’s the importance of adding your new car to your policy?

Just because you have automatic coverage under the provisions of your policy doesn’t mean that you should delay making changes to your policy. In most states, auto insurance requirements are mandated by the state. Since it’s common for coverage to be compulsory, you must prove that you have insurance when you buy a vehicle.

If you don’t add the vehicle to your policy, there’s no way to show the state that you have the coverage that’s required by law. When a verification isn’t sent, you could face fines and registration suspensions.

Your provider will electronically verify your coverage to the DMV if the car is on your policy.

It’s also important to add the vehicle if it’s financed so that the company can send the loss payee all of the necessary paperwork. It’s your duty to buy full coverage to satisfy the terms of your loan. If you don’t, the lender could charge you for forced-placed lender insurance.

As a consumer, it’s important to understand how the product you’re buying works. Since policy language can be hard to follow, it’s important to ask your agent before you assume you have coverage.

If you’re not happy with the service that you’ve received from your provider, use our FREE online rate comparison tool and shop for a better policy. Get started with just your zip code below!