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If someone drives your car, they are generally covered by your insurance. However, there are certain conditions and limitations.

Most policies include a "permissive use" clause, allowing occasional drivers to operate your vehicle with your explicit consent. Even if an unlisted driver uses your car, they can still drive covered. However, permissive use has limitations, such as frequency of use, excluded drivers and restrictions on business use.

Your car insurance primarily covers the car, not the driver, so if someone borrows your car with your permission, your insurance will be the primary coverage in an accident.

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Key Takeaways

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Car insurance can cover other drivers through a permissive use clause or if they're added to the policy, but limitations and conditions apply.

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Your car insurance acts as the primary coverage in an accident, regardless of who is driving, as long as they have your permission.

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Insurance providers typically require policyholders to add all household members who can drive to the insurance policy.

Does My Car Insurance Cover Other Drivers?

Someone else can borrow your car and be covered by your insurance if:

  • You added them as a driver in your policy
  • Your policy includes a permissive use clause, and they have permission to drive your car

If you've specifically added someone as a driver to your insurance policy, they are generally covered when driving your car. This might include family members or regular users of your vehicle. It's a clear and straightforward way to ensure that both your car and the person driving it are financially protected in case of a covered incident.

Many insurance policies also include what's known as a "permissive use" clause. This means that if you give someone permission to drive your car, your insurance may extend to cover them, even if they're not named in the policy.

However, it's important to note that "permission" here typically means explicit consent. If someone takes your car without your knowledge or against your wishes, the permissive use clause might not apply.

Most car insurance companies require policyholders to add all household members — potential drivers — to the policy. Adding family members or roommates to your policy can help make sure that in the event of an accident, your car insurance will process your claim. Otherwise, an insurer may easily argue that they are not a listed driver and deny your claim.

Limitations of Permissive Use

The permissive use clause in an auto insurance policy allows occasional drivers who are not listed on the policy to operate the insured vehicle with the owner's permission. However, there are limitations to this clause, and they can vary depending on the insurance provider and the specific policy:


Frequency of Use

Permissive use typically covers occasional drivers, not regular users of the vehicle. Some policies may define "occasional" as up to 12 times a year, for example.


Excluded Drivers

Some policies may specifically exclude certain drivers from permissive use coverage. If an excluded driver operates the vehicle, even with permission, the coverage may not apply.


Business Use

If the borrower uses the car for business purposes, such as deliveries or ridesharing, the permissive use clause may not provide coverage.


Lower Coverage Limits

Some policies may offer reduced coverage limits for permissive users compared to the primary insured drivers.


Age and Licensing Restrictions

There might be age or licensing restrictions, such as not extending coverage to drivers under a certain age or those with a learner's permit.


State Regulations

The permissive use clause may also be influenced by state laws and regulations, which can vary widely.

Does Insurance Cover the Car or Drivee

Car insurance covers the car, not the driver. If someone borrows your car with your permission, your car's insurance policy is the primary coverage that applies in the event of an accident or damage. It doesn't matter who is driving; the insurance that you have on that specific car is what comes into play. As long as you give permission for someone to drive your car and your policy allows permissive drivers, your insurance will cover them, even if they are not named on your policy.

What Happens if Another Driver Gets in an Accident in Your Car?

Your car insurance usually kicks in if someone borrows your car and gets into an accident — up to your policy limits. Your car insurance generally covers other drivers as long as they’re driving with your permission and following state laws, and your policy allows permissive use drivers.

When Your Policy Kicks In

If your policy allows permissive use drivers, your liability, collision and comprehensive insurance are likely to cover them in an accident.

Type of Coverage
How It Works

Covers damages to other cars and injuries to other people. Does not cover your car or the borrower.

Medical Payments/Personal Injury Protection (PIP)

May cover medical expenses for the borrower and passengers in your car, depending on the policy and state laws.

If the other driver is at fault and lacks sufficient insurance, this can cover damages to your car and injuries to the borrower.

If the person who borrowed your car gets into an accident, your coverage would typically pay for the repairs to your car, up to the policy's limits, regardless of who is at fault.

Keep in mind that you'll likely be responsible for paying the deductible on your collision coverage, even if you weren't driving.

If someone not on your insurance drives your car and causes an accident, you must file a claim with your insurance provider, just as if you were driving. If the cost of damages exceeds your coverage limits, the borrower's policy may serve as secondary insurance to cover the remaining expenses.

This secondary coverage can cover the remaining costs, adhering to the limits of the borrower's policy. The way this situation is handled may vary, influenced by the specific terms of both your and the borrower's insurance policies, as well as state regulations.

When Your Policy Won’t Cover the Borrower

Although car insurance is generally tied to your car and not you as the policyholder, there are scenarios where your insurance won’t cover your car, such as when drivers don’t have your permission or drove your car under the influence.

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    Your policy doesn’t include a permissive use clause

    Some policies specifically require that drivers be named in your policy in order to be covered. Without a permissive use clause, even if you give permission, the borrower may not be covered. Check your policy for a permissive use clause or consult with your insurance provider.

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    The borrower is an excluded driver

    If a driver is specifically excluded from your policy, lending your car to them means they won't be covered, even with your permission.

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    The borrower was intoxicated

    If the borrower was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, your insurance might not cover any damages or injuries resulting from an accident.

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    The borrower does not have a license

    If the borrower doesn't have a valid driver's license, your insurance likely won't cover them.

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    The borrower used your car for work

    If the borrower used your car for commercial purposes, such as deliveries, and you only have personal car insurance, your policy might not cover them.

Ensure that anyone you lend your car to is responsible and holds a valid driver's license. Even if your insurance will cover a collision, you're not off the financial hook — you'll still be responsible for paying the car insurance deductible before your provider pays out the settlement.

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If another driver gets ticketed while driving your car, the responsibility generally falls on the driver, not you as the car owner. The ticket is issued to the individual who committed the violation, and they are typically responsible for paying the fine and dealing with any associated points or penalties on their driving record.

Adding Another Driver to Your Policy

If frequent borrowers of your car include members of your household, they may already be taken care of as your provider will likely request that you include household members who are potential drivers on your insurance policy. This may include family members or roommates who may need insurance coverage if they drive your car.

Additionally, if you have long-term guests with a valid license who will be borrowing your car, you may consider temporarily adding them to your insurance.

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    Family members

    Car insurance companies usually require policyholders to include all household members in the car insurance policy. This includes anyone from a newly licensed teenager to an elderly family member who resides with you.

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    If you have roommates, your insurer will likely ask you to add them to your policy, even if they don't borrow your car often. Including roommates as potential drivers on your policy ensures that your provider will cover them if they are ever involved in an accident while driving your car.

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    People who borrow your car frequently

    Permissive use drivers are those who occasionally drive your car with your permission, typically only up to 12 times per year. If someone borrows your car more frequently than this, they may exceed the limits of the permissive use clause in your policy. In such cases, adding them to your policy may be necessary to ensure that their frequent use of your car is covered by your insurance.

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    Long-term guests

    If you have long-term house guests who will be driving your car, you can add them to your car insurance temporarily. This temporary addition ensures that their use of your vehicle is covered under your insurance during their stay. Once they've left, you can remove them from the policy.

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Some companies offer the flexibility to add an unlimited number of drivers, accommodating various household members, roommates and frequent borrowers. Others may have more specific limitations, allowing you to add only a certain number of drivers, such as four or six.

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About Mark Fitzpatrick

Mark Fitzpatrick headshot

Mark Fitzpatrick is a senior content director at MoneyGeek with over five years of experience analyzing the insurance market, conducting original research and creating content that can be personalized for every buyer. He has been quoted on insurance topics in several publications, including CNBC, NBC News and Mashable.

Mark earned a master’s degree in Economics and International Relations from Johns Hopkins University and a bachelor’s degree from Boston College. He is passionate about using his economics and insurance knowledge to bring transparency around financial topics and help others feel confident in their money moves.