Who Is Covered On My Auto Insurance Policy?Posted on Dec 09, 2015
When you hand over your car keys, many questions may enter your mind. The most important is this: if the driver causes an accident, will they be covered by your auto insurance policy?
If you’re confused about where coverage comes from, remember car insurance follows the car, not the driver. This means even if the person driving has higher limits and a lower deductible, your insurance will be the one covering the damage if this person causes an accident while driving your car. If necessary, the driver’s insurance serves as secondary coverage.
Follow this breakdown of how auto insurance coverage works depending on who’s driving your car.
Immediate Family Member
In general, if your licensed son, daughter, sibling or spouse drives your car, they benefit from your coverage, as long as the two of you live under the same roof. In fact, some states and insurance companies require everyone living together to share an auto insurance policy.
Dependent children using your car while away at college may also be covered by your insurance as long as they are a permissive driver, meaning they have permission to drive your car. However, in some states, permissive drivers experience reduced coverage amounts.
Extended Family Member
If your grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin or other extended family member lives with you or will be using your car for several weeks, your insurer might want you to add them to your policy. However, if extended family is just visiting and you’re lending them your car, you can expect your policy to cover them under the permissive use provision.
Permissive use also applies to friends who drive your car occasionally. For instance, if you trade driving shifts on a road trip or let your friend take the wheel after a party to avoid driving under the influence, your friend will likely be covered by your insurance while driving your car. Liability limits may be lower for your friend if they get into an accident, but their own auto insurance can help make up any coverage gaps.
Boyfriend or Girlfriend
As with extended family, your significant other can probably drive your car occasionally and enjoy coverage if you live separately. If you move in together, your insurer might want you to be listed on each other’s policies before you drive one another’s cars.
If a thief steals your car and takes it for a joy ride, you’re not held accountable for injuries or damages to other vehicles if the driver gets into an accident. However, you will most likely have to use your own insurance to cover any damages done to your vehicle.
If a friend or family member borrows your car without permission, the insurance company is likely to assume the driver indeed had permission. In this case, you’ll still be liable for the damages. If it’s clear you expressly denied permission, the friend or family member’s insurance will provide primary coverage and yours will become secondary.
If the person behind the wheel of your car – whether family or non-family, permissive or non-permissive – doesn’t have insurance, you’ll have to draw from your own policy to cover the damages. If the damages exceed your policy amount, third parties could sue you to pay for medical and property damage costs.
In all states except Kansas, Michigan, New York, Virginia and Wisconsin, you can list specific drivers you want to exclude from your policy. These might include people with numerous accidents or DUIs, new teenage drivers, or a spouse with a less-than-perfect driving record – the purpose being to save money on your premiums when you’re confident these people will never need to drive your car.
If an excluded driver takes your car with your permission, you and the driver will both be held responsible for the damages without help from the insurance company. However, you might not be held responsible if the excluded driver takes off without your permission; it depends on your policy and state laws.