Your car insurance does cover other drivers who use your vehicle, even if you’re not in the car with them. This includes family members, friends, and anyone else who uses your car (with your permission).
Depending on the specifics of your car insurance policy and where you live, drivers who borrow your car may have more limited coverage than you do when you’re behind the wheel.
Does car insurance cover other drivers who use your car?
Yes, typically, your car insurance does cover other drivers who use your car. All car insurance policies are different, but generally, anyone who borrows your car is covered under your policy’s “permissive use,” which just means that your car insurance extends to cover people who use your car, as long as they have your permission.
There are lots of different situations in which other drivers would be covered by your car insurance, but some of the most common include:
Visiting friends who drive your car for a few days to get around town
Friends who borrow your vehicle to run errands
A family member who uses your car but has their own car insurance
Your car insurance also covers family members who live with you and drive your car. That’s because insurance companies require you to include all licensed-drivers in your house on your policy.
When friends borrow your car, they may have more limited coverage than drivers who are actually listed on the policy.
But generally, your insurance will still cover the costs if they have an accident in your car, just like it would if you were the one driving (and as long as you have full coverage insurance, damage to your car will be covered).
When your insurance doesn’t cover other drivers
Your car insurance doesn’t always cover other drivers. Anyone who doesn’t have permission to drive your car wouldn’t be covered by your car insurance (although it can be hard to prove when someone borrows your car without permission).
Your car insurance also won’t cover any excluded drivers (that means people who are specifically left off of your coverage).
Generally, it makes sense to list someone as an excluded driver if including them on your coverage would raise your rates, like if they have a recent DUI — but remember that excluded drivers can’t drive your car, and if they do, any damage they cause in an accident won’t be covered.
And the same rules about coverage that apply to you when you’re driving also apply to anyone who uses your car — that means they wouldn’t be covered if they damaged your car intentionally, or by doing something illegal, like racing.
Personal auto insurance also doesn’t cover other drivers if they use your car for commercial or business-related driving. That includes others who use your car for ridesharing or to make deliveries for their business, among others.
How your insurance works with another driver’s
If someone with their own car insurance policy borrows your vehicle, then their insurance acts as secondary coverage in case of an accident.
That means that the other person’s policy would cover damage when the amount of damage from an accident goes past the limits of the primary policy — which is yours.
Here’s how this works: let’s say you have enough liability insurance to cover up to $50,000 for injuries. When you let your friend drive your car, they cause an accident that racks up $60,000 in medical bills for the other drivers. Your car insurance would cover your friend, then their insurance would step in to cover the remaining $10,000.
It’s possible that your car insurance would seek to recover some of the cost of damage that your friend caused by going after their insurance provider. This can happen even if you have enough car insurance to cover the entire cost of the accident.
If a friend borrows your car and gets into an accident that someone else causes, insurance works the same way for your friend as it would if you were in the accident. This means that the at-fault driver’s insurance would pay for the damage they caused.
Does my car insurance cover me in another car?
Your car insurance can cover you when you drive another car, but it may not need to, depending on the situation. When you drive a car that’s insured by someone else (like a friend or family member) you’re covered by their policy first, as they would be by yours.
Also, just like with other drivers using your car, your auto insurance would step in to cover you if you caused an accident that exceeded your friend’s insurance limits.
You would also still have insurance coverage in another car if you were driving a rental. Your policy’s existing protection will usually still cover you when you drive a rented vehicle, so you may not need to spring for the rental agency’s extra liability and physical damage coverage.
Does car insurance cover the car or the driver?
Car insurance generally follows the car and not the driver. If this is confusing to you, think about it this way: when someone else uses your car (with your permission), they’re borrowing your insurance coverage too.
That said, sometimes insurance follows the driver instead of the car. One notable example of this rule is when you’re driving a rental car. Your own car insurance still covers you in that situation.
Another exception is your personal injury protection (PIP) and MedPay coverages. States that require drivers to have PIP have their own rules about how other drivers receive coverage after an accident, so it varies for everyone.
Who’s covered when the car is insured but the driver is not?
A driver is still covered when the car is insured and the driver is not. As long as your car has insurance, someone else can drive your car and still be insured regardless of whether they have their own policy or not — as long as they have permission to use the vehicle.
In the event that an uninsured driver uses your car and is in a crash, your liability insurance would cover the property damage or injuries that they cause. That said, it’s a good idea for uninsured drivers not to rely on the car they’re driving having enough insurance to cover a serious accident.
One way to do this is with non-owners insurance. Getting non-owners insurance isn’t quite like getting standard car insurance, but it includes most of the same protections that come with regular car insurance — only it’s a lot cheaper.
Non-owner insurance may be a good idea for people who drive cars they don’t own a lot, including those who often use their friends’ cars or rent vehicles.