Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health insuran...

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Chris Harrigan has an economic degree from Limestone College and an MBA from Clemson University. He previously managed auto insurance claims for Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Currently, he is using his business and insurance expertise to provide insurance data analysis and visualizations to enhance the user experience.

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Reviewed by Chris Harrigan
Former Auto Insurance Claims Manager Chris Harrigan

UPDATED: Apr 13, 2022

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Key takeaways...

  • When someone has regular access to your vehicle or they live in your household, it’s your duty as a policyholder to list them as rated drivers or deferred drivers on your auto policy
  • A rated driver is someone who affects premiums as either a primary driver or a secondary (occasional) driver
  • A deferred operator is someone in the home who has access to the vehicle but who doesn’t need to be listed because they have their own primary insurance
  • If the new driver is classified as high-risk, they could have a major impact on your premiums or even make you ineligible for coverage
  • Not all drivers need to be added to your insurance. If someone is in town for a visit and is temporarily borrowing your car, they might be covered under your policy’s permissive use provision
  • You’ll need the driver’s full name, date of birth, occupation, driver license number, driving record, and years of driving experience to add the operator to your policy

Adding a driver to your auto insurance policy is typically a quick and easy policy change. You can simply pick up the phone or access your account online to provide the information that’s needed to add an occasional operator or a primary operator to the plan.

While it’s not that difficult to do, distinguishing between a driver that needs to be listed and one that doesn’t might require some research.

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If you skim your policy declaration’s page, you’ll see a section that lists the drivers who’re rated to drive your vehicle. These are the drivers that you’ve disclosed as people who live in your home and have access to your car.

While most named drivers affect premiums, not all of them do. In fact, not everyone who gets behind your wheel needs to be named on the policy. Since it can be confusing, it’s important to learn how your insurance works.

What’s the difference between a named insured and a named driver?


A named insured and a named driver are two very different things under an auto insurance contract. By definition, the named insured is the owner of the auto insurance policy.

Since the named insured must have an interested in the vehicle that’s being insured, in most cases, they are the owner or co-owner of one or multiple cars listed on the policy.

Here are some of the rights a named insured has:

  • They are authorized to make all changes to the policy
  • They verify details of a claim
  • They are listed as a payee on checks made out after a claim is settled

Named insureds are almost always drivers under insurance policies, but not all named drivers are insureds. A named driver is someone in the home who has permission to drive a vehicle but who doesn’t have any financial interest in the car.

They can’t call to get information, they can’t make changes to the policy, and they can’t request payment to be issued in their name.

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Understanding Your Auto Insurance Contract

Your personal auto policy (PAP) is a contract that’s full of terms, conditions and definitions. Most consumers know the insurer’s obligations but not their own.

Even though the contract is full of legalese and different jargon you might not fully comprehend, it’s important that you have a basic understanding of your duties and obligations as a policyholder.

If you are unclear on your responsibilities as a policyholder, make sure to review your contract so that you are not putting yourself at risk.

Under the standard PAP contract form, it says that it’s your duty to list members in your household. It’s also your duty to notify the insurer when there are changes in your driving habits or household that could pose more risk.

If you don’t do this, the insurer might not be collecting an adequate amount of premiums from you.

What happens if you don’t list drivers in your home?

If you don’t fulfill your duties as a policyholder, all of the premiums that you’ve paid could be in vain when the insurer legally denies a claim.

You expect your insurance company to pay for claims when they’re presented, but unfortunately, the company doesn’t have to fulfill their duties if you don’t list drivers intentionally.

When your claims are denied, you’re left to pay for damages all on your own.

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Examples of Drivers Who Need to Be Listed on Your Policy

Companies don’t charge you for every driver that’s ever driven your car.

If you’re still not sure whether or not you need to list a specific driver on your policy, here are some examples to help you notify your insurer at the right time:

  • A spouse who’s moved into the home should be an additional named insured and driver
  • A relative who lives in the home and has regular access to the vehicles that you own
  • A teenager or adult child of the insured who lives in the home and doesn’t have their own insurance
  • A roommate who regularly borrows your car but doesn’t have their own vehicle
  • Drivers who have their own insurance but live in the home will be listed but not rated

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Can I add my teen if they don’t have their license?


If your teen has a provisional permit, they don’t necessarily need to be added to your insurance. Most companies will allow your teen to drive free of charge until they have a license.

It’s best to contact your insurer to verify that your company offers this benefit.

How does the permissive use provision work?

You’re free to let friends or acquaintances borrow your vehicle when they don’t live in your home. Coverage is extended to the driver under the permissive use provision.

Don’t assume that you can just say that any driver has permission to drive. If the person lives in your home or has regular access to the car, they need to be listed.

What do you need to add a driver?

If you’ve decided that it’s in your interest to add the driver, you need to gather information before you make the call. You’re going to be asked rating questions to ensure that the new risk is placed in the right risk class.

Here’s some of the information that your agent will ask for:

  • Full name and date of birth
  • Current driver license number and state
  • Prior license numbers out-of-state for experience credits
  • Dates of convictions and at-fault losses
  • Occupation and vehicle assignment

After you provide the details, the agent will run the driver’s MVR to see if there are convictions. You’ll then receive a quote to see how much it’ll cost you to add the new risk.

If you’re not happy with the premiums that you’ve been quoted, it’s time to shop around with other carriers.

The most effective way to price shop is to use an online insurance quoting tool.

Get instant access to dozens of quotes and decide which company deserves your business. Enter your zip code in our FREE tool below to get instant car insurance quotes!