Jessica Sautter is a Content Writer for CarInsuranceCompanies.com with a Bachelor’s Degree from Eastern Michigan University in Elementary Education with a Major in Reading and a Minor in Mathematics.

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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

UPDATED: Oct 13, 2020

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Here's what you need to know...

  • If you don’t own a vehicle, it’s best to buy a non-owner’s car insurance policy when you drive rented and borrowed cars on a regular basis
  • If you’re driving a car that you have regular access to but don’t own, non-owner’s coverage will not cover you
  • A non-owners policy includes Bodily Injury and Property Damage coverage
  • Some companies also offer Uninsured Motorist Protection and Medical Payments coverage for added premiums
  • Coverage driving cars you don’t own is provided under the temporary substitute provision written into standard personal auto policy
  • In some cases, only your liability insurance, uninsured motorist, and medical payments will follow you while you’re driving any car

When you earn your license, you aren’t obligated to buy a vehicle right away. As soon as your license is issued, you are granted the privilege to drive any private passenger vehicle as long as the vehicle owner gives you permission. That’s why you don’t have to be in a rush to buy a car just to start preparing for your licensing exam.

Just because you don’t own your own vehicle doesn’t mean that you aren’t vulnerable to losses when you don’t have insurance. In the eyes of the law, you don’t legally have to carry auto insurance until you register a vehicle in your name.

With this being said, claimants can still come after you if you’re responsible for damages in a car that you don’t own. Here’s what you need to know about getting insurance to protect you in any car.

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When are you required to carry auto insurance?

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Every state has a different set of auto insurance requirements. Some states have made carrying auto insurance mandatory, and others have a financial responsibility system in place that gives people the option to buy insurance.

Even when you have the choice, most people comply with the law by purchasing at least a minimum amount of insurance.

When you have issued a driver license, you aren’t expected to buy insurance right away. Simply being given the privilege to drive doesn’t mean you are legally obligated to buy insurance on the property you don’t own.

It’s not until you purchase a vehicle and register that vehicle in your name that you take on the legal responsibility to insure the car and comply with the law.

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Is there insurance for someone who doesn’t own a car but drives frequently?

When you don’t own a car, you buy non-owner’s insurance, which is a specialty car insurance policy that’s designed for licensed drivers who don’t own vehicles but need coverage while they drive.

Some companies also sell non-owner’s insurance for those who need insurance to reinstate their licenses.

A non-owner’s plan isn’t a cheap alternative to a standard car insurance policy.

Standard insurance policies offer you a full menu of coverage options that you can carry to protect your assets and your property. Since you don’t own the car that you’re driving, you can’t insure it.

The coverage that you can buy under this specialty policy is meant to protect your assets, future income, and finances. A basic non-owner’s policy will include liability coverage that will pay for third-party damages that you cause in a car crash.

Some companies also offer you the option to buy Medical Payments and Uninsured Motorist Protection, which each pay for first-party medical expenses.

Can you drive any car with a non-owner’s car insurance?

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Non-owner’s car insurance is for car-free drivers who need liability coverage, but these plans don’t protect drivers in any car. You must meet underwriting guidelines to get the coverage, and the car that you drive must be deemed eligible.

Non-Owner’s Limitations

  • The car must be classified as a private passenger vehicle
  • You can’t be a registered owner of the car or have a financial interest in it
  • The car can’t be owned by someone who lives in the same household as you
  • You can’t have regular access to the vehicle
  • If you’re renting a vehicle, the rental agreement must be in your name for coverage to extend

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Non-owner’s with Suspended License

If you have a suspended license, many companies will issue you a non-owner’s insurance policy so that you can get it reinstated.

This coverage is typical when you are required to file an SR-22 for being uninsured in the past, but you don’t own a vehicle. Check your state’s requirements to see if this is an option.

Non-owner’s While Borrowing a Vehicle

Having non-owner’s insurance gives you peace of mind in knowing that you have coverage no matter what the circumstance.

It is helpful to know that liability insurance does follow the car when you’re borrowing a vehicle, and you’re not on the insurance. The only time it won’t pay is if you’re excluded from the policy.

Will existing insurance pay for you to drive someone else’s car?

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If you own your own car, your existing insurance protects you while you’re driving your covered auto, temporary substitute vehicles, and newly acquired autos. So if you’re borrowing a friend’s car, you’re driving a family member to the airport, or you’re renting a vehicle through an agency, your coverage will extend.

How your coverage extends depends on the scenario.

Your liability coverage will always pay when you’re in an accident, but your physical damage coverage will only follow you when you’re in a car that’s temporarily replacing your car for a valid reason — including breakdown, servicing, loss, or destruction.

If you need insurance to drive cars that you don’t own, research your options. Contact your agent to find out if your current coverage will pay before you drive any other cars. If you don’t own a car, look for a specialty plan designed for car-free drivers like you.

The best way to find a good deal is to comparison shop. Use our FREE online rate comparison tool to enter your zip code and see how much you’ll pay for coverage.

References:

  1. http://www.dfs.ny.gov/consumer/faqs/faqs_auto.htm
  2. https://www.ldi.la.gov/docs/default-source/documents/publicaffairs/consumerpublications/auto-insurance-guide.pdf?sfvrsn=15
  3. http://thismatter.com/money/insurance/types/auto-insurance.htm
  4. https://www.thebalance.com/state-financial-responsibility-laws-2645900
  5. http://www.txdmv.gov/motorists/register-your-vehicle
  6. https://www.thebalance.com/what-is-non-owners-insurance-527421
  7. https://www.nh.gov/safety/divisions/dmv/financial-responsibility/insurance.htm
  8. https://www.thebalance.com/what-is-an-excluded-driver-527281
  9. https://www.independentagent.com/Education/VU/SiteAssets/Documents/ISO/PP/PP00010105.pdf