How to Add Non-Family Members to Car Insurance

Adding someone to your car insurance policy is easy, even if they don't live with you and aren't related to you. Your car insurance company wants to know who drives your car and what their driving record looks like. How you know the person is immaterial. While it's OK to let a friend or colleague borrow your car once in awhile, you'll want to add them to your policy if they drive your car with any frequency.

Contact your insurance company to find out exactly how they define an occasional driver versus someone who should be specifically listed on your policy. It’s a common misconception that auto insurance follows a driver, but in reality, it follows a car. Ultimately, this can make you legally and financially responsible for the car and its drivers.

In the Driver's Seat

To add a non-family driver to your car insurance policy, call your insurance agent and let her know that you would like to add someone to your policy. If your insurance policy cover more than one car, your agent will likely ask you to assign the driver to just one car. Just like getting an initial insurance quote, your agent will ask you for information on the new driver, including his date of birth, driver's license number and contact information. Make sure every insured driver of your car has a copy of the insurance card.

Permissive and Occasional Drivers

In most cases, your insurance will cover a licensed driver who uses your car with your permission. Known as a "permissive driver," this person is one who drives your car only rarely and, unless your policy states otherwise, enjoys the same coverage as you. This type of driving situation may arise if, for example, you're out with friends, fall ill and need someone to drive you or your car home. A friend visiting from out of town who borrows your car to run to the store is also considered a permissive driver.

Someone you know who borrows your car once in awhile, however, is an "occasional driver." An "occasional driver" usually denotes someone who drives the car less than 25 percent of the time. In some states, anyone who holds a driver's license and lives in your home gets branded an occasional driver, even if you don't let them drive your car. Because they do not drive your car full time, occasional drivers are generally cheaper to insure than regular drivers. It's smart to add them to your policy, however, and your insurance may require you to do so.

If you let someone drive your car without adding them to your insurance and they have an accident, your insurance company will determine if that driver was a permissive driver or an occasional driver. Problems may arise if your insurer deems the person an occasional driver and they're not listed on your policy.

Rate Changes

When you add a driver to your car insurance policy – whether it's a family member or not – your rate may change. If the driver has traffic violations, accidents or DUIs on her driving record, you could see a significant rate increase. However, if the additional driver has a better record than you do, your cost for insurance may decrease.

Lending Your Car

Before you lend your car, make sure you understand what your insurance policy covers and any restrictions or conditions that may apply to other drivers. You should also make sure that anyone borrowing your car has a valid driver's license, as your insurance may not cover an unlicensed driver. You're responsible for making sure that anyone who drives your car is legally allowed to do so.

Ramifications of Not Adding Drivers

While every situation differs, if you do not add a non-family member to your insurance policy and that person happens to wreck your car, your insurance may not cover it. In most cases, insurance follows the car, not the driver; however, if someone is a regular driver of your car and is not listed on your policy, your insurance company may deem this as a nondisclosure or misrepresentation of information and opt not to cover the accident.

Adding Cars

While you are able to add non-family drivers to your auto insurance policy pretty easily, the same is not true of adding cars. Adding a car owned by someone outside of your household to your insurance ranges from tricky to impossible. Car insurance rates depend in part on where you house or garage the car, and most insurance companies offer discounts for multiple cars covered under one policy. Your insurance company likely will not allow you to add a car not owned by a member of your household to your policy.

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