Non-owner car insurance: What is it and who needs it?

Non-owner car insurance provides coverage to people without a car. Drivers who frequently use others' vehicles but don't have their own can get a non-owner policy for basic protection against damages.

Andrew HurstAnna Swartz

By

Andrew Hurst

Andrew Hurst

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

Andrew Hurst is a senior editor and a licensed auto insurance expert at Policygenius. His work has also been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, USA Today, NPR, Mic, Insurance Business Magazine, ValuePenguin, and Property Casualty 360.

&Anna Swartz

Anna Swartz

Senior Managing Editor & Auto Insurance Expert

Anna Swartz is a senior managing editor and auto insurance expert at Policygenius, where she oversees our car insurance coverage. Previously, she was a senior staff writer at Mic.com, as well as an associate writer at The Dodo.

Updated|5 min read

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A non-owner policy is a form of auto insurance for people who don't own their own cars, but who still drive occasionally. If you commonly borrow someone else's car, use car-sharing services or rent vehicles, or if you just want to maintain your coverage to avoid a lapse, you should consider non-owner insurance.

You can get a non-owner policy at most car insurance companies, though none provide quotes online. Unlike a regular policy, non-owner car insurance only offers basic coverage and few customizable options. However, a non-owner policy is cheaper than standard auto insurance coverage.

Key Takeaways

  • Non-owner car insurance provides basic coverage to drivers who don't own a vehicle, but use others' cars often.

  • You may want to consider getting non-owner insurance if you frequently borrow someone else's car, use rental or car-sharing services, or want to maintain coverage even while you're not driving.

  • Most insurance companies offer non-owner coverage for cheaper than a standard car insurance policy, but finding quotes online can be difficult.

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What is non-owner car insurance?

Non-owner car insurance — also called non-vehicle owner insurance or a named non-owner policy — covers drivers who don't own their own vehicles, but who drive frequently. With a non-owner policy, drivers without a car can get insurance that provides bodily injury and property liability (BIPD) coverage. Non-owner auto insurance can also include:

Non-owner insurance gives drivers who don't own a car basic protection, but unlike a regular policy, non-driver insurance doesn't include comprehensive or collision coverage, since there’s no vehicle to protect. There's not much room to customize non-owner car insurance, but drivers can add more than the minimum required amount of liability coverage in their state.

Read more about what a full-coverage auto insurance policy protects

Who needs non-owner auto insurance

Non-owner auto insurance is best for people who don't own a car but still drive frequently. Depending on your personal preferences and circumstances, there may be other coverage options available instead of non-owner insurance, like using a vehicle's existing policy or getting rental car insurance. 

But, as long as you don't already own a vehicle, you should generally consider a non-owner policy if:

1. You frequently drive someone else's car

You don't need your own insurance if you borrow someone else's car occasionally. The vehicle's existing insurance coverage, including its comprehensive and collision coverage, would still apply if you got into a crash behind the wheel. If you frequently borrow another person's car, though, a non-owner policy could be a good idea, as your risk increases the more you drive.

Non-owner auto insurance would protect you from paying out of pocket for damages that exceed the car's existing insurance policy. For example, you would be responsible for paying the difference if a crash caused $30,000 worth of damage, but your friend's policy only provided $25,000 of coverage.

Read more about how insurance works when you borrowing another person's car

2. You often rent cars or use car-sharing services

Drivers who often use car-sharing services or rental cars can get non-owner insurance for more financial protection from the potential costs of repairs after a crash. While rental agencies and car-sharing services are required to insure their fleets of vehicles, the insurance is usually just enough to meet the local requirements

Non-owner car insurance allows you to add more protection to these basic policies without paying the high rates that most rental agencies charge to upgrade. However, because non-owner car insurance doesn't cover damage to your vehicle, you would have to purchase a collision waiver from the agency or see if your credit card company offers that benefit for extra protection.

3. You want to maintain coverage even while not driving

Insurance companies typically raise rates for drivers who have had a lapse in their car insurance coverage. A lapse occurs when a driver who was previously insured goes without coverage. Non-owner car insurance could be a good way to help you avoid a lapse — and higher car insurance rates in the future. 

Read more about how a lapse in coverage could affect for your driving history

4. You need an SR-22 form

If you're labeled a high-risk driver and your license is revoked, you may be required to get an SR-22 or FR-22 form before your license is reinstated. If you don't own a car, getting non-owner SR-22 insurance would allow you to reinstate your license.

An SR-22 form indicates to the state that you carry at least the minimum required amount or liability insurance. Your insurance provider files an SR-22 form on your behalf, and charges a fee afterwards. Usually, the cost of car insurance goes up for drivers who have to get an SR-22, because they're perceived to be more risky to cover.

However, just as a non-owners policy is cheaper than conventional auto insurance, the cost of an SR-22 form will be cheaper for drivers without a car than those who carry regular insurance policies.

Read more about SR-22 and FR-22 forms and who offers them

Who doesn't need a non-owner policy

Just because you don't own your car doesn't mean you need non-owner car insurance. If you fall into one of the following groups, a non-owner policy may not be right for you:

  • You only borrow a car belonging to someone you live with: You don't need to buy a separate non-owner policy if you live with the person whose car you borrow. You should, however, be listed on their policy as a permitted driver. Coverage may be denied if you're in a crash and not listed on the vehicle's insurance.

  • You rarely drive or don't plan to own a car in the future: While non-owner car insurance can help you avoid a coverage lapse when you're not driving, you don't need a policy if you never plan to own a car again. If you don't plan to own a car, you won't need insurance and won't experience higher rates in the future from being uninsured.

How to get non-owner insurance

It can be difficult to determine whether non-owner car insurance is offered by a particular company. Some companies only allow existing policyholders to purchase coverage. Others may only offer non-owner auto insurance in certain states. 

Unlike a typical policy, you won't be able to find a quote for non-owners car insurance online. Instead, you'll have to contact a representative over the phone to get coverage. Before buying insurance you'll probably have to provide some personal details, including proof of identification, your driver's license number, and a method of payment. 

To get the best rates, we recommend working with an independent broker who can help you compare coverage and shop around for the best rates. Policygenius has verified that the following large insurers do offer non-owner policies:

Before you buy, it's also a good idea to check with a prospective insurer about what they consider a "non-owned vehicle" and what constitutes "regular use." Some insurers, for instance, won’t extend a non-owner car insurance policy to someone who lives with an actual car owner.

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How much is non-owner car insurance? 

Typically, the cost of non-owner car insurance is cheaper than the average auto premium. This is due in part to the narrower coverage limits covered by non-owner policies. Since the policyholder with non-owner coverage also drives less, they're often viewed as less risky to insure — resulting in lower rates, on average.

The cost of non-owner car insurance depends on the coverage limits you select, your driving history and whether you have to add an SR-22 form, your location, and how much you plan to drive.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you own a car do you need insurance?

Yes, car insurance is required to legally drive a car in every state except for New Hampshire and Virginia, where residents can pay a $500 fee to drive uninsured. In most cases, drivers have to carry liability insurance to pay for damage caused to others and their property. However, Florida only requires drivers to carry personal injury protection coverage for medical expenses, along with property damage liability insurance.

Who has to be insured on a car insurance policy?

Everyone who regularly drives a vehicle should be included on a vehicle's insurance policy. If a driver lives in the same house as the car's owner and primary driver, they typically must be named on the policy, or risk not being eligible for coverage.

How old do you have to be to insure a car?

Drivers should be legally allowed to operate a car before they're included on a car insurance policy. Permit-holding teenagers can drive on their parents' policy safely before they're able to be officially included on a policy when they get licensed. Adult permit-holders may be added to a relative's or partner's existing policy while they're learning to drive.

Authors

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

Andrew Hurst

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

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Andrew Hurst is a senior editor and a licensed auto insurance expert at Policygenius. His work has also been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, USA Today, NPR, Mic, Insurance Business Magazine, ValuePenguin, and Property Casualty 360.

Senior Managing Editor & Auto Insurance Expert

Anna Swartz

Senior Managing Editor & Auto Insurance Expert

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Anna Swartz is a senior managing editor and auto insurance expert at Policygenius, where she oversees our car insurance coverage. Previously, she was a senior staff writer at Mic.com, as well as an associate writer at The Dodo.

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