Can you drive a car if your name is not on the insurance?

f you don't own car insurance, don't drive anyone else's vehicle until you get your own insurance. You need to protect yourself financially if you cause an accident while driving someone else's vehicle.

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Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

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Written by Rachel Bodine
Feature Writer Rachel Bodine

Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years (BBB A+). He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com and Safeco. He reviews content, ensuring that ex...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent Daniel Walker

UPDATED: May 19, 2022

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Things to remember...

  • You can drive a car if your name is not on the insurance policy, but that doesn’t mean you should
  • Some types of vehicle insurance extend to secondary drivers but not all
  • If you’re an unnamed and uncovered driver, you must get insurance for financial protection in case of an accident

There may be times when you need to borrow a relative’s or friend’s car. So, you may ask yourself, “Does my name have to be on the car insurance?” On the other hand, the owner may wonder, “Do I have to name every driver on my insurance policy? Can other people drive my car?”

The answers are no, no, and yes.

But that doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods yet concerning car insurance if you intend to borrow a car. There is no guarantee that the existing insurance coverage will protect you financially. 

So, just because you can drive a car without your name on the insurance policy, doesn’t mean you should. Therefore, you first must learn whether you’re a covered driver and what you need to do if you’re not.

Are you covered under existing insurance?

Auto insurance companies usually consider licensed members of one’s household when calculating insurance premiums, provided they are licensed to drive. But the extent of coverage may vary.

If your loved one names you on the policy, you will be insured as a driver no matter what vehicle you use. You don’t have to be listed if you’re married and your spouse has liability insurance. You will be automatically covered as long as you live together. However, if you’re separated, you will not be covered unless you have your estranged spouse’s permission to drive their vehicle.

A roommate who is licensed and insured can borrow your car every so often if they need it. However, if this roommate drives your car on a regular basis they should be named on your insurance policy.  

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What if you’re an excluded driver?

A vehicle owner may choose to exclude you from their auto insurance policy by listing you as someone who will not be covered if you drive their insured car(s). Usually, people exclude those who have a history of irresponsible driving behavior. And they can do that even if you’re the spouse or relative living in their household.

If you’re excluded, it would be unwise to drive their car unless you have alternative car insurance because you will be fully liable for any damages or injuries from an at-fault accident.

Become a Permissive User

A permissive user is authorized to drive a car by the insured even if they are unrelated or don’t live in the same household. And that permission comes with automatic insurance coverage.

For example, if you borrow a friend’s vehicle and drive it with their permission, the coverage will extend to you if it is insured.

However, not all car insurance policies offer permissive user status. Those who do may provide limited coverage, leaving you vulnerable to lawsuits if you get involved in an accident. So, check the vehicle owner’s car insurance policy before driving their car.

If you’re an employee using your employer’s personal vehicle for business purposes, you may not get permissive user status. However, liability insurance will probably cover you.

Also, if you’re unlicensed to drive or inexperienced, you may not qualify for auto insurance coverage under the permissive user status. So, that is something to consider too.

Obtain Your Own Auto Insurance Coverage

If you need a car but are not covered by the vehicle owner’s insurance, consider getting non-owner auto insurance coverage

This liability insurance coverage typically protects those who drive but may not own a vehicle. Getting it will ensure that if you’re liable for an accident, you won’t have to pay for any property damages or bodily injuries you cause. In addition, it will cater to legal fees if you need to defend yourself.

Ensure you also opt for uninsured motorist coverage, which covers you if an uninsured person causes an accident. Add medical payment coverage to protect you and your passengers regardless of who is at fault.

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The Bottom Line: Should you drive a car if you aren’t on the insurance policy?

If you don’t have insurance, don’t drive another person’s vehicle until you find insurance for yourself. You must protect yourself from financial liability if you’re responsible for causing an at-fault accident. As for the vehicle you borrow, the chances are high that the existing insurance coverage will follow the car and, as a result, will protect you.

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