Who’s Covered Under My Car Insurance Policy?

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

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.

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

  1. Patricia Jackson Langston
    January 27, 2014 #

    Good evening. I'm a researcher by nature & by profession. But my search tonight will not give a name, Any name of an Auto insurance company that offers me the right to exclude my spouce from my policy. He is not allowed to drive my cars!! He never once drove my last car, yet l still have, and he knows full well he has No access to my new one. He is not allowed to touch it. So l do not keep it at my home. It's in a storage unit. All l want & Must have is liability. This car will be driven by me only. SO, Who carries this simple clause prohibiting my husband from even thinking he can get in it. I keep my keys on me or locked in the safe. He is a DUI. Yet this Should Not keep Me from getting good insurance. Which companies have no problem with this issue? Can you be precise & make this easy for me. Sincerely desperate! saugahatcheeart@aol.com

    • Ellen Hall
      January 28, 2014 #

      Hi Patricia,
      Unfortunately, we can only speak for Esurance, not for other insurance companies. But I'll try to give you some answers. Some states allow you to exclude drivers from your policy, while other states require all drivers in your household to be listed. Driver exclusions vary by insurance company, too (some charge a fee for excluding a driver). Our best advice is to contact your insurance company and ask them about exclusions in your state. If you're an Esurance customer, you can call our customer service experts anytime at 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262).

  2. Mary
    February 26, 2014 #

    I have a question regarding an accident my daughter was in. The driver who hit her and totaled her new car was un insured, he also had a suspended license. He is 22 and lives in a single family home with what I will assume are his relatives. Looking at the home and other vehicles I will assume the home owners have car insurance. Does the law apply that they would have to have him covered under there auto insurance since he lives in the same household? This is in PA.

    • Ellen Hall
      February 27, 2014 #

      Hi Mary,
      If the uninsured driver is living with relatives, it’s possible that he does have some coverage under his family’s insurance policy (if they have one). It’s also possible that they have specifically excluded him from coverage. In PA, it’s legal to exclude a household member from an insurance policy if they have a suspended or revoked license. If you’re able to find out what company the family policy is with, your daughter could contact that company to file a claim. An adjuster would review the situation to determine if any coverage applies under that family policy. If she’s already filed a claim through her own insurance, her adjuster may already be looking into this angle to obtain claim costs from the other insurance company. Your daughter should be able to contact her adjuster to find out.

      Hope this helps!

  3. Amanda
    April 9, 2014 #

    If I drive my fiance's car & get into a car accident & I am an authorized driver can his insurance company sue me & make me responsible?

    • Ellen Hall
      April 15, 2014 #

      Hi Amanda,
      We can’t say if you would be held responsible for any accident without knowing the details of the accident. It’s up to the discretion of the claims adjuster to determine responsibility, and it also depends on whether or not you live in a no-fault state.

      If you’re listed on your fiance’s policy, then you’d generally be covered up to the liability limits outlined in his policy contract. If you aren’t listed on his policy but have his permission to drive his car, you’re usually covered under what’s known as permissive use. (Again, you’d be covered up to the limits of his policy, which may have different coverage limits for permissive use.) Your fiance’s insurance would take primary coverage status, and your insurance would kick in if his coverage limits were reached.

      But there are a few scenarios where a lawsuit may potentially be filed:

      1) If you don’t have your own insurance or you live in the same household as your fiance, you may need to be listed on his policy – permissive use may not cover you if you’re a regular driver of his vehicle. If you’re uninsured and you cause an accident in his car, your fiance’s insurance company might pay out for the claim and then sue you or him for reimbursement. Or the claim might be denied, in which case he or you could be sued for damages by the injured party.

      2) If the adjuster determines you’re not covered by your fiance’s policy, or if the damage exceeds the coverage limits, then potentially you could be sued by the injured party to pay for the remaining costs.

      In general, the best advice is to make sure you have insurance with high enough liability limits to protect your assets in the event of an accident. If you’re able to confirm that you’re a listed driver on your fiance’s policy with sufficient limits, or you have your own insurance policy with sufficient limits, then you should be covered. Any lawsuit or reimbursement request would be handled by your insurance company as long as you have sufficient coverage to cover the cost of the claim. To find out what kind of coverage limits you need, you should talk to an insurance agent to review your circumstances.

      I hope this helps!

  4. Willio
    May 7, 2014 #

    Do I need to buy insurance before taking my driving test if my gf has full coverage on her vehicle?

    • Ellen Hall
      May 7, 2014 #

      Hi Willio,
      Since it sounds like you don't have a license yet, you may not need to be added to your girlfriend's policy at this time. Many insurance companies (including Esurance) will extend permissive use to a driver with a permit so they can practice or take the drivers test in the insured vehicle. You just have to make sure you’re obeying the rules of the permit. Once you get your license, you would need to either get your own insurance or make sure you're covered on your girlfriend's policy. If you're driving her car regularly, permissive use may no longer apply.

      In a few states, such as North Carolina, a driver with a permit may need to provide documentation of insurance to the DMV before they can get a license. In those states, you would need to be added to the policy before you go in for the final exam and licensing. The DMV should be able to tell you any specific insurance requirements for your state. You should also check with your girlfriend’s insurance to see if they would need to make any changes to her policy to make sure it covers you during your practice and test.

      Hope this is helpful!

  5. Aissa Sargent
    July 24, 2014 #

    Can my relative from the UK use my car with my permission – they have a full UK driving license ? Thanks

  6. Rob
    September 19, 2014 #

    Can my teens frinend drive my car,he has a valid drivers license but he's still under 19 yrs old

    • Rachael Heller
      September 24, 2014 #

      Hi Rob,

      Because regulations differ based on state and situation, we recommending contacting your insurer directly. If you're an Esurance customer, give us a call at 1-800-Esurance (1-800-378-7262) to speak with one of our representatives today. Thanks so much for reading!

  7. Erika
    October 2, 2014 #

    I purchased a car for my ex-boyfriend and financed it. I am the registered owner of the car. While i made the payments from my account, he would reimburse me for both the financing and insurance. The car was recently stolen and I am receiving a check for the full value of the car minus the deductible. Does he deserve the check from the insurance? I want to keep the check as I am the one that extended my credit. Please let me know your thoughts/opinions. The check is a little over $3000.

    • Sharon
      October 25, 2014 #

      My son got his license suspended for DUI for a month. He is cover by my insurance and the car is under my name. He will be moving to another state to work in couple weeks. What is the best way to make sure he get insurance when he will not be living with me? Should I change the car registration to him? Would my insurance rate still go up if we remove him?

  8. kristin guzman
    October 20, 2014 #

    Hello,
    My niece is currently staying with us. She has her own car and own auto insurance. She borrowed my car to go to the store, she rear ended someone. No damage to my car, minor scratch to their car. No claim is being filed. My insurance says we have to add her to my policy. Wouldn't she fall under the permissive use rule?

  9. joel
    November 15, 2014 #

    My wife is not on my insurince and we where hit by another car last night and she was driving i want to kno what happen now i life in florida

  10. joel
    November 15, 2014 #

    It was a 3 car accident. We where in the front and got hit in The Back

  11. Jodi
    December 3, 2014 #

    My daughter who lives with me has insurance under my name with her vehicle, she is 25, she also has an apartment to spend time at with her boyfriend because of her small child, She was in an accident and the people at fault were not insured. Her title was registered to the apartment address, now our insurance is questioning her residence to cover her for uninsured coverage. Her apartment is only about a half mile from me but we consider our home her permeant address. Will she most likely not be covered?

    • Jennifer Wood
      December 3, 2014 #

      Hey Jodi!
      Thanks for your comment. If you'd like, please feel free to reach out to our insurance experts at 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262). They're standing by 24/7 to help with all of your insurance questions.

      Thanks!

  12. Alberta
    December 14, 2014 #

    My son was driving someones car when he was pulled over in pa. The officer told him the car does not have insurance. Who will be charged for not have insurance on this car. Will my son's license be taken away?

    • Jennifer Wood
      December 15, 2014 #

      Hi Alberta.
      My suggestion would be to contact your insurance company and explain the situation in order to get further clarification of what happens next. You may also need to work with your local police, depending on the situation.

      Good luck!

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