Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health in...

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Reviewed by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: Jul 14, 2021

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Here's what you need to know...

  • For standard auto insurance, the policy covers the car itself, not the individual
  • Your normal auto insurance policy does not follow you from one car to another
  • In some situations, your traditional auto policy may provide coverage for a rental vehicle
  • There is a non-owner auto policy that can provide coverage to you when driving a non-owned car
  • In the event of an accident, your provider may extend some coverage from your policy to a non-owned vehicle

Auto insurance policies are specifically designed to provide protection for damages caused to your vehicle or by your vehicle. This coverage type is designed to cover the car itself, not necessarily the individual driving it.

If you have concerns about the insurance coverage another vehicle has, speak to the vehicle’s owner and make sure to discuss your coverage options with your insurance agent or provider.

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Your Auto Insurance Follows Your Car, Not You

Many people think that their auto insurance policy will provide coverage if they’re driving another vehicle. However, this is not always the case. For most typical auto insurance policies, the policy follows your car, not the driver.

If you’re driving a rented, borrowed, or otherwise non-owned car, then the primary auto insurance will be providing coverage instead of your coverage.

For instance, if you borrow someone’s car due to yours being in the shop, then the primary insurance policy on that vehicle would be providing coverage.

You’ll want to make sure that the owner has active coverage on the vehicle before you use it. Additionally, make sure to check your state’s laws regarding insurance coverage before driving a non-owned car.

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Your Auto Insurance May Provide Coverage For a Rental Vehicle

Insurance coverage typically follows your car, but some providers are willing to extend that coverage to a rental vehicle that is being used for pleasure or recreation. The coverage that is extended, however, will be no more than what your current policy allows for.

For example, if you have removed comprehensive or collision coverage from your auto policy, your rental car may not be covered in an accident or if it is stolen.

If you are planning to rent a vehicle for recreational use, it may be best to speak to your insurance agent or provider prior to completing the rental.

They can review your coverage, determine which coverage would extend to the rental vehicle, and advise you on your best coverage options.

In addition, some providers may require you to add rental coverage to your policy in order for your coverage to transfer to the rental vehicle.

Your Auto Insurance May Provide Coverage If You Have Non-Owner Coverage


For some individuals, owning a car is not a necessity. However, just because you don’t own a car, doesn’t mean you won’t be driving one. In these situations, a non-owner auto policy may be your best option. This policy type provides liability coverage for you, even if you do not own a vehicle, while operating a borrowed or rental vehicle.

Non-owner auto insurance may also provide coverage for medical bills or situations where a motorist is uninsured or underinsured. In addition, your non-owner policy may cover liability expenses above any existing policy coverage limits.

These coverage extensions can vary by state, so it’s best to check with your insurance agent or provider to fully understand what coverage is available to you.

If you’re interested in applying for non-owner auto insurance, make sure to get quotes from different providers.

Non-owner coverage is often less expensive than traditional auto insurance, making it a good idea for anyone that operates non-owned vehicles regularly.

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Your Auto Insurance Provider May Extend Coverage Due to an Accident

In some situations, your insurance provider may extend coverage if you drive a borrowed or non-owned car and there is an accident. Although this is not guaranteed, your provider may be willing to provide coverage in situations where the primary insurance limits have been exceeded.

Your insurance coverage may act as supplemental insurance at that time. If you have questions about how your coverage would work in a situation like this, speak to your insurance agent or provider.

They can inform you of any state-specific regulations that would allow or prohibit this, as well as the provider’s policies regarding accidents in non-owned vehicles.

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Exceptions to the Rule


Auto insurance typically follows the vehicle it is assigned to as the primary coverage, which means your insurance coverage may not cover you in another car. There are exceptions to this guideline, such as when you’re driving a rental vehicle or if you have non-owner auto insurance.

In addition, your insurance provider may be willing to provide supplemental coverage above the limits of any primary insurance if you’re in an accident.

If you have questions about the coverage provided, speak to your insurance agent or provider. They can explain the coverage available on your policy, as well as any state laws or regulations that may prohibit your coverage from extending to a non-owned vehicle.

Your state’s Department of Insurance can also provide basic information about exceptions that you need to be aware of. Make sure your rates are competitive by entering your zip code into our FREE comparison tool!