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Does Car Insurance Follow the Car or the Driver?

Does Car Insurance Follow the Car or the Driver?
Eric Rosenberg
Updated March 17, 2022
3 Min Read

If you are looking to drive someone else’s car or let a friend or family member drive your car, you may be wondering whether car insurance follows the car or the driver. Does your personal auto insurance cover the rental if you're renting a car? These are essential questions to consider if you’re ever involved in any kind of car sharing. Here’s a closer look at what you need to know if you’re asking, does car insurance follow the car or the driver?

When does car insurance not follow the car?

As a general rule, car insurance follows the car, not the driver. There are exceptions to many rules in insurance, however, including this one. Always look at the car’s insurance policy closely to make sure it covers any driver before letting someone else get behind the wheel. Some policies may expressly exclude or limit liability when someone is driving who isn’t listed on the policy.

This coverage only transfers to other drivers when they have permission to use the vehicle, and they’re not doing something that wouldn’t be covered by the policy anyway. If someone steals or takes your car without permission and gets into an accident, they are liable to pay for the damages.

If someone is listed as an excluded driver on an insurance policy, which is less common, that person is not covered when driving your vehicle.

Insurance usually won’t cover someone else using the car for commercial purposes. Suppose you let your friend borrow your car for a pizza delivery shift or your sibling uses your vehicle for a weekend driving for Uber or Lyft. In that case, they need to be covered by a commercial auto insurance policy. The same goes if you rent out your car using a vehicle-sharing service.

Finally, your friends and family shouldn’t expect your insurance to cover them while driving illegally. Your insurance does not usually cover unlicensed drivers or drivers with suspended licenses.

When does car insurance follow the driver?

When you borrow someone else’s car with permission, the same rules apply. In that situation, you are covered by their insurance policy in most cases. But there are some times when your car insurance will cover you when driving other cars.

Auto insurance policies often extend to rental cars. That means your car insurance covers you when driving a rental car. Again, there are exceptions in some cases, so check your policy to make sure it includes coverage for rental cars. If you’re paying for the rental with a credit card, which can be beneficial for several reasons, your card may also include insurance for rental cars.

If you cause an accident when borrowing a car with permission, the owner’s insurance coverage goes up to policy limits. If the accident goes over liability coverage or collision and comprehensive coverage limits, your insurance policy may step in as secondary insurance, paying for any remaining liabilities up to policy limits. If you’re driving someone’s car who doesn’t have insurance, which may be illegal in some states, your insurance may come in with primary coverage for the accident.

Medical payments coverage also follows you when driving other cars, including rental cars, in many cases.

Drivers insurance vs. car insurance

When you buy an insurance policy for your car or all vehicles in your household, you are usually buying car insurance, not driver insurance. This car insurance policy will cover all vehicles listed on the policy when any legal driver is using the vehicle with permission.

If you want insurance that covers you when driving other vehicles, your insurance may extend coverage to rental cars and work as secondary coverage when borrowing others’ cars with permission.

If you don’t own a car and want insurance for times you’re driving other cars, you can shop for a non-owner car insurance policy.

Which car insurance coverages cover the car or driver

These guidelines apply to the average auto insurance policy in the United States. If you are in doubt or have any questions, you can read your policy or contact your insurance company or agent to learn more.

Policy TypeCovers You Driving Your CarCovers Others Driving Your CarCovers You Driving Other Cars
Policy Type
Personal auto insurance policy
Covers You Driving Your Car
Yes
Covers Others Driving Your Car
Yes
Covers You Driving Other Cars
Yes, but limitations may apply
Policy Type
Non-owner auto insurance policy
Covers You Driving Your Car
N/A
Covers Others Driving Your Car
N/A
Covers You Driving Other Cars
Yes

FAQ

Does My Car Insurance Cover Other Drivers Who Operate My Vehicle?

Yes. Your car insurance covers other drivers who use your car with permission in most situations.

Does My Car Insurance Cover Me When Driving Another Vehicle?

When driving another vehicle you’re borrowing from a friend or family member, their car insurance acts as the primary insurance coverage. If you cause an accident, your car insurance may provide secondary coverage. You are usually covered by your personal car insurance policy when renting a car.

What happens if someone gets in an accident while driving my car?

If someone else gets into an accident when driving your car and it’s their fault, your car insurance will cover damages and liabilities up to policy limits. If your insurance benefits are exhausted, the driver’s insurance may provide additional coverage, known as secondary coverage.

Can you insure a driver instead of a car?

Most insurance policies are specific to the vehicle and may follow the driver to offer additional coverage in limited situations. If you don’t own a car and want coverage when driving other cars, look for a non-owner car insurance policy.

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