Chances are you won’t be the only person to ever drive your car. Whether you lend it to friends, family, or even if you let the mechanic to take it for a test drive, someone else will be behind the wheel at some point.
In cases like this, you might wonder about whether you need to add the other driver onto your car insurance.
If someone only sometimes drives your car and doesn’t live with you, the answer is probably no: you don’t have to add them to your car insurance.
On the flipside, if they live with you and have a license, chances are you’ll need to add them onto your car insurance policy.
But, like with most things in insurance, there are plenty of gray areas.
Here are some general guidelines about adding another driver onto your car insurance.
Adding a driver to car insurance: When do I do it?
The first thing to know is that each insurance company is different.
Some have certain rules about who you need to add, and who you don’t need to add to your car insurance policy.
In order to be absolutely sure you’re in the clear, it’s a good idea to check with your insurance company for anyone who might drive your car.
In general, though, most car insurers want people added to your car insurance if they’re:
- Lives with you
- Regularly has access to your car
This includes roommates, spouses, teenage children, or other people living in the same household as you.
Some insurance companies also require you to add people who use your car for an extended period of time, but who don’t necessarily live with you.
This might include a nanny, a home healthcare worker, or anyone who has a separate address from you, but who uses your car frequently.
The exact definition of “frequently” varies among insurers.
That’s why you should check with your car insurance company to see whether you need to add any specific people to your policy, depending on how often they drive your car.
Are there times when I don’t need to worry about adding a driver to my car insurance?
In general, if someone doesn’t live with you and only uses your car on occasion or for a one-off trip, you don’t need to add them.
Let’s say you lend your truck to a friend to move across town or you let your niece borrow your car to run some errands, you most likely don’t need to worry about adding them onto your car insurance policy.
That’s because car insurance policies come with “permissive use” policies written into them. It means occasional drivers are generally covered if they get into an accident.
Still, check with your car insurance company about how they handle claims made by non-listed drivers.
Some car insurance companies, for example, may offer reduced coverage for non-listed drivers on the policy. You don’t want to wait until after an accident happens to find this out.
Most insurers also don’t require you to add drivers who you live with, but who aren’t related to you and who have their own car insurance policies.
This would include roommates who have their own car, with their own insurance policies, even if they occasionally borrow your car.
But again, if this scenario applies to you, double-check with your own car insurer to make sure the rules are clear.
When should I really not add a driver to my car insurance?
So we know that anyone who lives with you, has a license, and who has access to your car should probably be on your policy.
But in some cases that might be a bad idea.
If adding someone to your policy would raise your rates and you’re certain they won’t ever drive your car, then you can call your insurance company and specifically list them as an excluded driver.
This might happen if, for instance, someone who has a far from perfect driving record, been in several accidents or filed lots of claims comes to live with you.
If you know they won’t be driving your car even if they live with you, excluding them from your policy can help lower your car insurance.
What about teen drivers? Do I have to add them to my policy?
If you have teen drivers in your household, you should add them to your policy. It’s cheaper than if they were to get their own car insurance policy.
But you should be aware — the cost of your insurance will almost certainly go up.
The leading cause of death for teens in the U.S. is car accidents. The lack of driving experience is what leads to fatal car crashes among 16 to 19-year-olds.
Because of this, car insurance companies will raise rates in anticipation of teen drivers filing more claims.
What happens if a non-covered driver gets into an accident?
It’s tempting to avoid adding a driver onto your car insurance in certain cases, such as if you know your insurer might raise your rates.
But that’s usually not a good plan of action. If someone crashes your car and the insurance company finds out you should have listed them as a secondary driver, you could face some hefty consequences.
Exactly what happens depends on the fine print of your insurance policy.
Some insurers may cover the accident, but require that you pay all the premiums that should’ve been paid if you had added a secondary driver. And they sometimes require that payment all at once.
Depending on the insurer, they can decline to pay for the coverage or drop you from your policy.
How does adding a driver to your car insurance policy affect your premiums?
This depends entirely on the driver. In some cases, it might not have any effect at all on your car insurance premium.
If insurance companies consider you as relatively risky because of your age and you add on someone else, your car insurance premiums could actually go down.
This might be the case, for example, if you add a spouse to your policy who has a clean driving record.
However, if you add on a new driver that’s considered riskier by insurers, your car insurance rates could go up. This commonly happens after parents add their newly-minted teenage drivers onto their car insurance policies.
Car insurance companies vary widely on how they treat teenage drivers, so it’s always a good idea to shop around for rates when adding a younger driver onto your policy.
It can be a hassle to switch car insurance companies, but you’ll be sure of getting the best coverage for the right price.