Working for an insurance company, I get all sorts of questions from my friends. Over time, I’ve amassed enough knowledge to answer most of them on my own, but recently, I received a question that I hadn’t heard before.
My friend, let’s call her Suzi, doesn’t drive. She’s quite petite (child sized, in fact) and can barely see over the wheel, so she leaves the driving to her 6-foot-tall boyfriend instead. Nevertheless, she’s required to be on her boyfriend’s car insurance policy. Suzi had heard the term “excluded driver” before and wanted to know why it couldn’t apply to her.
Stumped, I contacted the experts in our customer service department (such friendly people!). And boy, did they have a lot to say on the subject. Special thanks to Nicole D. and her team of insurance experts!
Excluded driver defined
In some states, if you don’t want a driver in your household to be listed on your policy (for example, a roommate who has her own insurance), you can ask your insurance company to specifically exclude that person from your policy. By doing so, you’re certifying that this person will not drive your car.
If the excluded driver doesn’t have their own insurance (and, in some cases, even if they do), and you let them drive your car, you could be liable for all damages and injuries if they have an accident.
To help protect their customers from this major financial risk, many insurance companies won’t allow you to exclude an uninsured driver from your policy.
Who must be listed on a policy?
The short answer is that all drivers in your household should be listed on your policy. But I’m much too verbose for a short answer, so here are more details.
In insurance terms, a driver can be anyone who has the knowledge and ability to drive, even if they don’t have an active license. This can include someone whose license is expired, suspended, or revoked, as well as someone who’s never had a U.S. license, like a recent immigrant.
When drivers live in the same household, everyone theoretically has access to your vehicles. Even someone who “never drives your car” might get behind the wheel in an emergency — and just imagine what kind of risk someone who never drives could pose!
Additionally, some people may be considered household members even if they don’t live with you full time (children in shared custody, for example). Likewise, there are situations where people who don’t live with you at all may be required to be on your policy, like if Grandpa cosigned your car loan or Mom is listed on your registration.
If you attempt to leave a driver off your policy and your insurance company later finds out, it could leave you open to a premium increase or even cancellation.
Who can be excluded from a policy?
Driver exclusions are not available in every state and they can also vary by insurance company (some charge a fee for excluding a driver).
In some states, you can only exclude a driver if they can provide proof that they’re insured on another policy. In states that do allow driver exclusion, there’s quite a bit of variance. In Oregon, for instance, Esurance can exclude a driver only if adding them will cause significant financial hardship or if their license is suspended for a medical impairment or major violation (like a DUI). And in Kentucky, spouses and dependents can’t be excluded at all.
In states that don’t allow exclusions (or if you don’t want to exclude the driver from all coverage), you may be able to provide proof that the driver has their own insurance instead of adding them to your policy. If that person then has an accident in your car, you may still be covered under the rules of permissive use.
If the person has never had a license, they may be asked to provide their state ID number so the insurance company can confirm that they’re not able to drive. If the person no longer drives due to age or medical impairment, they may need to officially surrender their drivers license to the DMV so they no longer appear in public records as an active driver. Keep in mind that if these unlicensed drivers borrow your car and have an accident, you could be in for a world of financial hurt since your insurance company likely won’t cover the damages.
In most states, an excluded driver would have no coverage at all, but some states do require limited liability coverage for excluded drivers. In those states, adding an excluded driver may slightly affect your premium to help cover the risk.
If you’re curious about the driver exclusion rules in your state, contact your insurance company. Esurance customers can call our customer service experts anytime at 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262).
So, to answer Suzi’s question …
Let’s look at the facts:
Though my friend avoids driving like the plague, she does have an active license and is physically able to drive. She also lives in a household with a car and could be forced to drive in an emergency. While her boyfriend may gripe at the slight increase to his insurance premium, he could be saving himself from a major financial blow by adding her as a driver … and isn’t that what insurance is all about?