Who is Insured to Drive My Car?

What You Need to Know Before Loaning Out Your Car

Teenage girl getting instructions in the car from her father

Thomas Barwick/Getty Images


Does car insurance coverage “cover” the driver of the vehicle, or the vehicle itself? Does an insurance policy automatically covers everyone who lives in the owner’s household? Can I keep my insurance from covering risky drivers who happen to live with me? Do I need to purchase extra coverage for friends who plan to drive my vehicle?  

It is important to know who is insured to drive your car. Knowing who needs to be listed as a driver and who does not is the crucial information you need so you know your car is covered. If you are ever in doubt, ask your insurance agent before you let someone drive your car.

Who Needs to be Listed as a Driver?

Some insurance carriers are stricter than others when it comes to who needs to be listed on a car insurance policy as a driver. It is these irregularities in requirements that make the whole process so confusing. It could cause legal problems if you knowingly did not list a driver who was expected to be listed for your financial benefit. 

Most Insurance Carriers Expect the Following Persons to be Listed as Drivers on Your Policy:

  • Licensed family members living in the household
  • Unrelated licensed drivers living in the household
  • Anyone driving your vehicle and not insured under another policy

In general, you should include everyone in your household as a listed driver so that they can be covered by your car insurance. Of course, there are certain times where it might be in your best interest not to do this: 

Example: Your girlfriend just moved in with you. You love every part of her, except for her poor driving record. She doesn’t currently own a vehicle, and so you let her drive yours. Adding her as a driver to your policy would raise your rates considerably. Instead, you allow her to drive without adding her as a driver.

You are really taking a gamble in allowing someone living in your household to drive your vehicle and not having them as a listed driver. Depending on your insurance carrier's rules, it is possible for a claim to be denied if they were in an accident or caused damage to your vehicle -- which in many states might mean a revocation of your license for failure to have proper auto insurance coverage. However, in the above example, many policies would cover a claim with your girlfriend as a driver and require her to either be added as a driver or excluded immediately after an accident.

In general, a good rule of thumb is to ask your insurance agent whenever you have a new person living in your household, or a person who has become newly eligible to drive, who at any point in time might be driving your vehicle -- without your knowledge or not. If they have a poor driving record, it is better to have them listed as an excluded driver than to not have them listed on your policy at all.

Is a Teen Driving with a Permit Covered Under My Insurance Policy?

Again, it really depends on your insurance policy. Some insurance carriers do require permit holders to be listed on a policy. Other carriers only require licensed teens to be listed. Always check with your insurance agent if someone who lives with you is becoming a newly-minted permit-holder in order to make sure you are properly covered, and the points in time at which you need to get new coverage.

Excluded Drivers

The one time you can be certain you do not have coverage is when an excluded driver drives your vehicle. A driver becomes excluded when the named insured signs documentation stating they understand the driver will be excluded from coverage on a particular car insurance policy. You should know, without having to look it up, if any drivers are excluded from your policy.

Automatically Covered Drivers Need to Meet the Following Criteria:

  • You gave the driver permission to drive your vehicle. This includes family, friends, co-workers, and anyone with permission to drive your vehicle
  • The person is not a member of your household (i.e. living with you)
  • The person has their own car insurance policy in force

If an excluded driver damages your vehicle, you’re unfortunately on the line for the damages, so choose who you let drive your vehicle very carefully.

Unrelated Drivers Living in Your Household

One of the trickiest elements is figuring out whether an unrelated driver living in your household needs to be listed on your car insurance policy. It really depends on your insurance carrier. Some carriers want every licensed driver in your household either listed or excluded from the policy. While others extend coverage as long as the driver has his or her own car insurance policy. It is in your best interest to check with your insurance provider to make certain your policy is set up properly.

Uninsured Drivers

It is not recommended to let any driver not listed on your policy that doesn’t have a car insurance policy of their own drive your vehicle. If an uninsured driver needs to drive your vehicle, ask your insurance agent if you can add them as a driver. Allowing an uninsured driver to drive your vehicle is asking for trouble. It can be especially troublesome if the following situations apply:

  • The driver is a high-risk driver (i.e. they’ve recently committed a major traffic violation like a DUI)
  • The driver has a suspended license
  • You are concealing the driver from your car insurance purposely (You were told to add the driver and lied about no access or usage by the said driver)

Each insurance policy is different, and it’s best to speak with your trusted insurance agent in order to protect yourself legally and financially from the potential consequences of improperly listing the drivers on your car’s insurance policy.