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: Sep 26, 2021

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Here's what you need to know...

  • If you own a vehicle and you’re a licensed driver, you’ll be the named insured on the policy and the primary driver on the vehicle
  • While the rates are primarily based on the primary driver assigned to the vehicle, occasional operators do have an impact on rates if they have a poor driving record or little driving experience
  • As a named insured, it’s your duty to disclose all household members who have regular access to your vehicle so that the policy can be accurately rated for risk
  • If you live with your girlfriend, you must either list her as a driver or a deferred operator to prevent any issues if you need to file a claim
  • Deferred operators are licensed drivers who’ve been listed but who don’t have a bearing on the premium. This typically happens when the operator has their own insurance
  • If your girlfriend doesn’t live in your household but has access to the car from time to time, she may be covered as a permissive user without listing her on the policy to be rated

When you’re in a long-term relationship, it’s common to hand your girlfriend your car keys whenever she needs to run to the store. While car insurance is something that you might not give much thought, you should think about it before there’s a greater potential for loss. In some instances, your girlfriend will be covered to drive your vehicle with permission, but there are other scenarios to consider when letting your partner drive your car.

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Auto insurance is more than just a state-mandated requirement, it’s a legal agreement between you and the insurer. You’re agreeing to pay the premiums you’ve been quoted and the company is agreeing to pay claims when they’re presented. Not only must you make payments, you’re also expected to be upfront and honest with your insurance company. Here’s how allowing a girlfriend to drive your vehicle can land you in hot water:

Know the Conditions of Your Auto Insurance Contract

You should look at the basic principles of your car insurance contract so that you don’t make any missteps that could put you at risk of having an uncovered claim.

While the biggest condition of the policy is to pay your premiums, you’re also responsible to notify your insurer when your situation changes.

There’s a number of different scenarios where you’re expected to notify your insurer when there’s changes in your lifestyle and your driving habits. Under the Personal Auto Policy contract, it’s especially important to let the insurer know when there are changes in your household that might increase your risk of having a loss or your the insurer’s willingness to cover you. Some examples of these changes include:

  • Purchase of a new vehicle
  • Modifications to covered autos already on the policy
  • The use of classification of insured vehicles
  • The garaging address of covered vehicles on the policy
  • The operators who are using vehicles on the policy
  • New household members in the home

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Why It’s So Important that You Disclose All Operators to Your Insurer

You might be asking yourself why it’s so important to let your insurer know that someone is occasionally driving a vehicle that you own. While it might not seem like it’s the insurer’s business, it really is.

Allowing someone to drive your covered auto is putting the insurer’s money at risk. It’s your duty to list all household members and other regular operators and failing to do so could leave you paying for repairs yourself.

How are insurance policies rated?

To really understand why a company would go as far as to deny a claim for failing to list a driver, you need to understand how rates are determined. Insurance companies have to factor in risk and how your personal details can present more risk when they are coming up with personalized rates. Some of the factors that are considered include:

What to Do If Your Girlfriend Lives With You

If you’re wondering if your girlfriend is covered to drive your car, there’s not a yes or no answer. It’s a bit easier to answer the question when you understand the circumstances surrounding your relationship. When you’re just casually dating on the weekends, there’s a lot less risk than when your girlfriend lives with you.

If you live with your girlfriend and she regularly drives your car, you need to put her on your policy.

Just because you put her on the policy doesn’t mean that you’re going to be automatically charged. If your girlfriend still has her own car and her own insurance, then she’ll be listed but not rated. This is called a deferred operator.

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What happens if a deferred operator has a claim?

If your girlfriend has her own insurance, that insurance will actually kick in while she’s driving your car. That’s why your company isn’t quick to charge for her as a driver. After her primary liability insurance is exhausted, your coverage will then kick in to protect your assets following a larger loss.

When Your Girlfriend Doesn’t Live in Your Home

If you’re in a more casual relationship and you haven’t even thought about moving in together, there’s a much smaller chance that your girlfriend needs to be listed. Insurers are most often concerned with household members who could easily drive a household vehicle. Occasional drivers who don’t have this access are usually called permissive users.

Not all drivers will qualify for the permissive user status. The first rule is that you have to give your girlfriend express permission to drive your vehicle. Some companies consider initial permission enough. Here are some of the other rules you should be aware of:

  • The driver has a valid driver license
  • The driver doesn’t have regular access to the car
  • The driver can’t be an owner or co-owner of the vehicle
  • The driver is over 25 and doesn’t have a high-risk record
  • The driver isn’t a member of the household or a child of the insured

Don’t let assumptions land you in hot water with your insurer. If you allow your girlfriend to drive your car and find out she’s not covered, notify your insurer and add her as soon as you can.

If you can’t get coverage through your provider, consider combining insurance with your girlfriend to save money.

Use an online rate comparison tool and price the cost of coverage through several companies. Enter your zip code in our FREE tool below to compare car insurance rates instantly!