A car insurance policyholder is the person who owns a car insurance policy. They are the ones responsible for making premium payments and managing the car insurance coverage.
When more than one person is covered by a car insurance policy, one of those people (or two, if the policy is jointly owned) will be considered the policyholder. There can be other drivers listed on a policy who aren’t the policyholder, and can’t make changes to the policy.
The car insurance policyholder is the only one who can do certain things with their car insurance policy, including:
Add or change coverages
Add drivers to the policy
Remove drivers from the policy
Add a car to the policy
Remove cars from the policy
Renew the policy
Other drivers on the policy are covered while behind the wheel, but only the policyholder (or policyholders) are able to make changes to the policy.
What is the difference between a driver and a policyholder?
The policyholder is the person who owns a car insurance policy. They are the person responsible for paying the annual or monthly car insurance premium and making any necessary changes to the policy, like dropping certain coverages, or adding drivers or new vehicles.
If the policy gets canceled for non-payment, all the listed drivers will lose coverage but the policyholder is the one who will take the hit on their credit report.
Listed or named drivers who aren’t the policyholder are not responsible for paying the premiums and they can’t make changes to the policy but, if they are in an accident, they are covered up to the policy limits.
Policyholder vs. primary driver
There can only be one or two policyholders on a policy, but for every car listed, there must be an association primary driver. For example, let’s say a parent and their teenage child are on the same car insurance policy, which covers both of their vehicles.
The parent is the policyholder and the primary driver of their vehicle, while the teenager is a “named insured” or “listed driver” and the primary driver of their vehicle. Only the policyholder actually “owns” the car insurance policy.
How do I know if I'm the policyholder for my insurance?
The policyholder for your car insurance policy will be the first person listed on your insurance card or declarations page. But if the information isn’t listed on your insurance card or you don’t have a copy of your insurance card, the best way to determine if you are the policyholder is to ask yourself who called the insurance company to set up your policy.
If you were the person who purchased your insurance policy, you are the policyholder. If your parent, spouse, or another member of your household was the one who filled out the forms and put your insurance coverage in place, you are likely a listed driver on their policy.
However, most insurance companies allow two people to be listed as policyholders so that spouses or partners can both be listed as policyholder.
If you aren’t certain whether or not you are listed as a policyholder you can call your insurance company to find out.
How to determine what types of coverage you need as a policyholder
When you buy a car insurance policy, you can pick and choose some of the coverages. Some types are required by law, like liability coverage, but you still need to choose amounts, while other types of coverage are always options.
There are several types of auto insurance coverage that you may need as a policyholder, including:
What it does
The portion of your liability insurance that pays for the other person's medical expenses if you've injured someone in an accident
The portion of your liability coverage that covers the cost of property damage you've caused to someone else in an accident
Required in some states, PIP covers medical expenses for you or your passengers after an accident
Covers your medical costs (and, in some circumstances, property damage expenses) if you're hit by a driver with little or no car insurance
Covers non-collision damage to your car, like damage caused by weather, falling objects, fire, theft, vandalism, and animal-related damage
Covers damage to your car after an accident, no matter who was at fault
Drivers need to have at least the minimum coverage required by their state, which usually includes some combination of liability coverage, PIP coverage, and uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. Drivers who have a car loan or lease may also need to buy comprehensive coverage, collision coverage, and gap insurance.
The best way to determine which types of coverage you need and what car insurance policy is right for you is to work with an insurance expert to review your auto insurance needs and compare quotes from multiple companies before you buy.