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If you’re an insured driver and have a spouse, child, roommate, or friend who might get behind the wheel of your car, you’ve probably asked yourself this question: Who is covered under my car insurance policy? The most important thing to remember is this:
Each auto insurance policy is unique, and so when it comes to letting other people drive your car you should never automatically assume they are covered.
Some car insurance companies require you list all the drivers on your policy. Anyone operating the vehicle outside of this list will not have coverage. Others extend coverage to family members living in the same household as long they are not the primary driver.
The detail behind who is covered under your car insurance policy is a question that must be asked well before committing to purchasing auto insurance. It’s why we’re digging into everything you need to know about who is and who isn’t covered.
Beyond learning more about who is covered under your policy, we know you also want the most affordable car insurance possible. Start comparing rates by entering your ZIP code into our free car insurance comparison tool.
Who is covered under my car insurance policy?
Knowing the answer to this question is important, especially when it comes to car accidents involving physical damage and injuries.
Of course, if your car is insured under your name, you know that you’re covered. But what about spouses, relatives, or friends? Let’s take a look at each of these scenarios below.
What drivers are covered on my car insurance policy?
First thing’s first: as long as you’re a “named insured” in the policy, you’re covered. In other words, if your policy documents list you, and perhaps a few others like a spouse or teenage driver, you would all be covered by the policy regardless of what car you drive.
Here’s the key — never assume that your insurer will automatically add names other than your own to your policy. It’s better to be safe than sorry; if you want someone else on the policy, go ahead and have his or her name added.
But what if you let someone else drive your car, but they’re not listed on your car insurance policy? Let’s dig a bit deeper.
Is my spouse covered under my car insurance policy?
You’ll hear many legal experts, including those with Nolo, say that spouses are almost always automatically covered by your car insurance policy. And in many cases, this is true. However, not all insurance companies make that assumption. Your best bet is to always list your spouse as a driver on your car insurance documents.
Is my child or another relative covered by my insurance?
For many car insurance companies, children or other relatives (by blood, marriage, or adoption) living in your household will be covered as long as they’re licensed. Again, this is not the rule for all carriers. Be sure to confirm this with your provider.
What about unrelated drivers living in the same household? This is another great place to ask the very important question, Who is covered under my car insurance policy?
Without a doubt, it’s important to understand how car insurance works for unnamed drivers.
To reiterate, anyone who is a “named insured” on your car insurance policy will be covered. This includes unrelated drivers, like a roommate.
But what if that roommate isn’t listed? The short answer is this: don’t make any assumptions. Some insurers will extend coverage as long as that roommate has their own car insurance policy. However, others will not.
People Driving Your Car, With and Without Permission
The question of whether someone else driving your car is covered – with or without permission – is an extremely important one. This is where we’ll break down two important terms: permissive and non-permissive use.
Here’s a quick overview:
- Permissive Use. Many car insurance companies will extend coverage to drivers to whom you give permission to drive your car. What does this mean? If he or she gets into an accident while driving your car, they will be covered under your policy as long as you gave them permission to drive. The level of car insurance coverage, however, may be reduced. We’ll get to that soon.
- Non-Permissive Use. Let’s say a friend, or even a relative, takes your car on a spin without your prior knowledge. Your car insurance many not hold you accountable for damage, all because you did not give them permission. In this case, the insurance of the person who used your car may end up kicking in.
In either of these cases, we can’t emphasize it enough — the rules vary from company to company. And when you consider car insurance by state, more variations will come into play.
So please, heed this warning: before you let anyone drive your car, talk to your insurance company first.
The absolute worst-case scenario? You loan your car to a friend, and he or she gets into a bad accident. All you need to do is consider the average cost to repair a car, as well as the high price of hospitalizations, and you’ll no doubt think twice about your actions.
Are uninsured drivers using my car covered?
If your car insurance company permits it, you may be able to add an uninsured driver to your policy. This is, however, extremely risky. That’s because if an uninsured driver operating your vehicle gets into an accident, you may end up having to pay for damages that go beyond your own coverage limits.
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What happens if someone drives your car and they get in an accident?
If someone drives your car and he or she gets in an accident, what follows afterward largely depends on your insurer. If your car insurance company allows you to extend coverages to that driver, here’s some of what may come into play:
- Your liability car insurance will help cover another person’s physical damage or injuries resulting from the car accident.
- Your collision coverage could help offset damage done to your car in the course of the accident
- Medical payments coverage, or even personal injury protection (PIP), may help cover medical expenses if the driver of your car was injured.
As we’ve said time and time again, this will vary from state to state and provider to provider. Carefully look over your policy documents, or consult with your agent, to learn more.
Are other drivers insured for the same amount of coverage?
So, you’ve asked yourself who is covered under your car insurance policy. You also want to know if other drivers are insured for the same amount of coverage.
This is where car insurance gets interesting. When it’s all said and done, remember this:
While many car insurance companies extend coverage to other drivers operating the vehicle with your permission they do not automatically reach the same levels of coverage.
Some auto insurance companies only extend the state minimum requirements to anybody driving the vehicle which is a significant cause for concern. In other words, all that collision, comprehensive and other supplemental insurance included in your premiums will not be passed on to your friend running to the store for a carton of milk.
Additionally, the $100,000 in liability coverage may be reduced to as low as $10,000 depending on where you live.
If your friend gets in a car accident, you might find yourself with no insurance coverage and have to write a check for your repairs.
Adding high-risk drivers to your car insurance policy
For the most part, you can name anyone as an additional driver on your car policy. This will be especially common for family members. However, their risk profile may undoubtedly affect your car insurance rates.
What’s a high-risk driver? According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), this includes people with a poor driving record, people with little driving experience (like teenagers), and those with a bad insurance record.
If you are a good driver and request a high-risk driver added then your risk profile just went up and so will your premiums.
Something else to keep in mind: some car insurance companies may outright deny your request to add a high-risk driver. It’s for these reasons we strongly advise against adding a high-risk driver to your policy, if you can help it. Rather, it would be best to look into what car insurance companies offer high-risk car insurance. This will ultimately protect you and the other driver.
Who is covered under my car insurance policy? A Final Word
While we can talk in general terms about adding a driver to your car insurance policy, only a licensed car insurance company familiar with your profile, state laws, and policy details can answer this question directly.
Try to ask at least the following questions from your licensed auto insurance agent:
- Do the drivers have to be named in your policy to have coverage?
- How much coverage will they have?
- Are the limits and types of coverage the same as yours?
- What about friends and families who want to take the car for a spin?
We can’t say it enough: asking these questions ahead of time is crucial. Not doing so can result in big headaches, big bills, and an unnecessary strain on your relationships.
As long as you’re seeking out car insurance companies, make sure you’re getting the most affordable rates possible. Start saving now by plugging your ZIP code into our free tool now.