Who’s Covered Under My Car Insurance Policy?

Lending your car to someone? Make sure they’re covered under your insurance policy first.

An illustration of an umbrella with the Esurance logo surrounded by rain and people.

Handing your car keys to another driver, even for a quick trip, can be tough. Especially once these numerous (and, frankly, frightening) thoughts start whirling through your head:

Are they going to position my seat all wrong? Are they going to ride the clutch too hard? Are they going to reset my favorite radio station to polka?     

But perhaps the most important question you can ask before lending your car out is: Are they going to be covered by my insurance? If you’re confused about just who does and doesn’t get the benefit of your auto coverage when they take the wheel of your car, you’re not alone. It’s one of the most common questions we receive.

To ease to your worries, we’ve consulted with our customer service specialists. Together, we’ll scan the list of people who could conceivably take your wheels for a spin — and let you know when it’s safe, insurance-wise, to give them the keys.    

Does my car insurance policy cover someone else?

Immediate family

People living in the same house typically enjoy the car insurance coverage of whoever’s ride they’re using. In fact, depending on the laws in your state, everyone bunking under the same roof is often required to be on the same policy. Either way, if your son, daughter, or spouse wants to take your vehicle out, they should usually be covered as long as they have a valid drivers license.

Extended family

If your grandpa, aunt, or some other relative has to borrow your car while visiting, they’ll probably be covered by your policy thanks to permissive use. Permissive use means that if you give someone permission to use your ride, they can typically fall under your ride’s auto policy. Just make sure Grandpa Mort has a valid license before he takes off (no matter how much he insists that’s not how it was in “his day”).

If, on the other hand, relatives are living with you or using your car for several weeks, your insurer might want them added to your policy before they drive your car.

Friends

Permissive use also typically covers friends who use your wheels once in a while. If you and some buddies trade shifts on a road trip, for instance, they’ll likely enjoy your coverage options. They may, however, not get the same coverage amounts. Drivers not listed on your policy sometimes face lower liability limits. If your friends have their own car insurance, though, it can help make up any gap in coverage.

Boyfriend or girlfriend

Similar to your extended family, your boyfriend or girlfriend can probably use your car occasionally under permissive use if you live separately. But if you move in together, you might need to be listed on each other’s policies before you can share car insurance.

Understanding permissive use car insurance

Car insurance follows the car. And that simply means your coverage stays with your vehicle no matter who’s driving it (usually), as long as they’re immediate family or have your permission.

If you’re ever in doubt, though, you should always check with your insurer. They’ll go over your policy contract and let you know what will happen if someone else drives your car.

Want to update your policy? Find out how to add a driver to your car insurance.

49 Responses to “Who’s Covered Under My Car Insurance Policy?”

  1. Avatar for Alex Glenn
    esalwin
    October 10, 2015 #

    Hi — are there any esurance policies, personal or commercial, that cover car-sharing? That is, when I rent out my car to another individual for profit.

    I would be interested in anything that covers myself (as the owner) and/or the renter (as the driver). Thanks!

    • Avatar for Alex Glenn
      Rachael Heller
      October 14, 2015 #

      Hi Esalwin,

      We appreciate your interest in this service. At this time, Esurance does not insure vehicles for rideshare services like Uber or Lyft as it’s too broad of risk to cover.

      Thanks for reading.

  2. Avatar for Alex Glenn
    Diana
    December 16, 2015 #

    My son & daughter have been on my auto policy since they were 16. Now my son is 22 & moved out of the house, can I continue to have him on my policy?

    • Avatar for Alex Glenn
      Rachael Heller
      January 4, 2016 #

      Hello Diana,

      Great question. It would be in everyone’s best interest if he gets his own coverage now that he is at a different address.

      Thanks for reading.

  3. Avatar for Alex Glenn
    Fran
    January 5, 2016 #

    My daughter is 20dosnt live with me but still have my address. She stays with boyfriend and there family can she drive my car from time to time and my inurance be ok

    • Avatar for Alex Glenn
      Rachael Heller
      January 11, 2016 #

      Hello Fran,

      If your daughter is not a student and the vehicle would be with her at the other address, it would be best to have her insure the vehicle at that address. If it’s a matter of your daughter dropping by and borrowing the car once in a while, then it should be covered under permissive use. If your daughter doesn’t have the vehicle with her at the other address, but drives your car on a fairly regular basis (more than once every 2 weeks) then you would want to have her listed as a driver on her insurance policy.

      Thanks for reading.

  4. Avatar for Alex Glenn
    Jennifer Standridge
    April 26, 2016 #

    I live in SC and my son is 16 and just got his regular driver's license, not permit. Is it possible to just add on another car and keep the insurance in my name only or does he have to be specifically named on the policy?

    • Avatar for Alex Glenn
      Rachael Heller
      May 5, 2016 #

      Hello Jennifer,

      If your son would be driving the vehicle on a semi-regular basis, you would want to make sure he’s listed as a covered driver on the policy. If he’s not listed, there could be complications if he’s involved in a claim. Additionally, by having him added to the policy, he will be able to show prior insurance history when it’s time for him to get his own coverage. That is important as it could help him have a lower rate when he goes on his own.

  5. Avatar for Alex Glenn
    Danielle
    May 11, 2016 #

    Hi. I have full coverage insurance but my bosses are the policy holders. I'm paying off the car currently but they are listed on the paperwork. Who can drive my car?

    • Avatar for Alex Glenn
      Rachael Heller
      May 16, 2016 #

      Hello Danielle,

      This is not a common situation; we would suggest speaking to your local agent to get policy specific details. It would really depend if your name appears on the policy or not. If not, you may not actually be a covered driver. Due to this, we suggest speaking to your bosses and their agent directly. In most situations like this, you may benefit from a personal lines insurance policy under your own name as you are the owner of the car.

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