When you own a vehicle, you are legally required to carry auto insurance for a car. In fact, in most states, you are required to maintain the minimum amount of coverage (liability coverage, with the amount determined by your state) before you will be permitted to register a vehicle and operate it.
While you know that you have to carry insurance in order to operate your vehicle, you may be wondering if anyone else will be allowed to drive your car. For example, will a friend, a relative, or a babysitter be permitted to operate your car if they are not on your insurance policy? To find out the rules regarding who can drive your vehicle if they are not insured under your policy, keep on reading so you know how you – and other drivers – are protected.
Auto Insurance Covers “Occasional” Drivers
There are two groups of people who will be covered by your auto insurance policy:
- Those individuals who are listed on your car insurance
- Those individuals who operate your vehicle occasionally
Anyone who drives your car on a regular basis and resides in your household – such as a child – must be listed on your auto insurance. Since these drivers must be listed on your policy, they will be covered by it. Anyone who borrows your car once in a while and does not reside in your household – a friend, a relative who does not live in your house, or a babysitter – will also be covered by your auto insurance policy.
For instance, if a friend of the family drives your car every so often and is not a listed driver on your auto insurance policy, she would be considered an occasional driver and would likely be covered by your insurance while operating your vehicle. However, if a child who resides in your household drives your car on a regular basis and is not listed on your insurance, he may not be covered.
Permission is Key
Generally, as long as you grant permission to another driver to operate your vehicle, that driver will be covered by your policy. It can be written, verbal, or implied permission, but that permission must be granted. Additionally, the driver must not reside at your residence and must only operate your vehicle on an occasional basis. If someone drives your car without your permission, however, that individual will likely not be covered by your policy.
For instance, if you allow an out-of-town family member drive your car to run errands, she will be likely be covered by your auto insurance policy. However, if that family member drives your car across state lines without your consent, she probably won’t be covered by your insurance, as you did not grant permission for your vehicle to be used in such a manner.
How Your Insurance Covers Other Drivers
Your auto insurance policy will cover others who drive your vehicle in the same way that it will cover you, the owner of the policy and the vehicle. For example, if the driver is involved in an accident, your insurance will cover any damages and injuries that occur as a result of the accident. However, as mentioned, in order for the driver to be covered, he must have your permission to operate the vehicle.
If the driver who is borrowing your car is involved in an accident causes damages that exceed the limits of your policy, that driver’s auto insurance may go into effect as a secondary policy and cover the excess damages.
Are There Any Penalties?
There may be penalties for allowing someone who is not covered by your policy to operate your vehicle. For example, while you may have a great driving record with no accidents or violations, if you lend your car to someone else who is not covered by your policy and that person is involved in an accident or gets ticketed with a moving violation, it will be reflected on your policy. If you lent your car to a friend and he is involved in an accident, you will be responsible for paying the deductible on your insurance. Furthermore, the rates on your policy may increase because of your friend’s accident. Also, the damages that occurred as a result of the accident exceed the limits of your auto insurance policy, you may be held liable and might have to pay for the damages and/or medical costs that exceed your policy limits. But, if this happens, make sure that you check with your friend’s insurance provider. As mentioned, his auto insurance may kick-in as a secondary policy and cover the damages and/or injuries that occurred in an accident while he was driving your car if those damages and/or injuries exceed the limits of your policy.