Can I add someone to my car insurance for a week?

Adding someone to car insurance doesn't necessarily have to be done if it's for a short period. However, the vehicle owner is liable for any damages and injuries caused while your vehicle is being operated regardless of who is driving.

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A former insurance producer, Laura understands that education is key when it comes to buying insurance. She has happily dedicated many hours to helping her clients understand how the insurance marketplace works so they can find the best car, home, and life insurance products for their needs.

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP®

UPDATED: Sep 8, 2021

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Here's what you need to know...

  • As a vehicle owner, you are liable for any damages and injuries caused while your vehicle is being operated regardless of who is driving
  • Liability coverage follows the person while physical damage coverage follows the vehicle
  • Make sure you know the scenarios where your insurance coverage extends automatically to other drivers
  • Discuss all your options concerning adding someone to car insurance temporarily with your insurance provider

Every responsible vehicle owner wants to be sure that he has all of the coverage that he needs on his vehicle in each and every scenario possible.

Peace of mind comes in knowing that every time you get behind the wheel you have liability coverage to protect your assets and physical damage coverage to protect the investment in your car.

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How does car insurance follow the vehicle and the driver?

For you to really understand why it is not always necessary to add a driver to your auto insurance policy when lending your car out, you first need to understand how insurance works.

There has been a major debate over whether a personal insurance policy follows the car or the driver, and there is not one specific answer to the question.

How the coverage works depends on a long list of variables like the regulations in the jurisdiction and the coverage types being filed against.

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Does liability coverage cover other people driving your car?

When you own a vehicle, you are the party who is liable for damages and injuries that are caused while the vehicle is being operated regardless of whether you are the driver or someone else is.

If you allow a friend or family member to drive your vehicle and they are negligent and cause an accident, their personal liability coverage will kick in before the vehicle’s primary policy because liability coverage follows the driver.

Friends and family members will have coverage for third-party damages under their personal car insurance policy.

Coverage is provided because a vehicle that is borrowed, rented or replacing the covered auto is defined as an insured vehicle.

If the driver does not have his own insurance or he has selected low limits that are not sufficient, then your insurance will be activated, and third-party damage claims will be paid.

Does physical damage coverage cover other drivers?

Physical damage coverage, which consists of comprehensive and collision, extends much differently than liability coverage does. This type of coverage follows the vehicle and not necessarily the driver.

In some scenarios, a named insured may have physical damage coverage for a rented vehicle or a newly acquired vehicle if the contract is in their name, but typically the coverage is only afforded to the covered autos.

What can be confusing to some people is how collision claims work when the car is not being operated by a listed driver.

In most cases, your car is still covered for physical damage claims when you are not driving it. If you have given the driver permission to drive your car and they do not have regular access to it, your insurance should cover it.

You should learn more about scenarios when permissive use is allowed or not before you automatically assume that your auto insurance policy is covering everyone driving your car.

When do other drivers receive automatic coverage on your auto policy?

If a driver takes your car and was not given permission to do so, your auto insurance coverage may not extend like it would normally. When you are loaning your vehicle out, you are essentially loaning out your insurance as well.

Before you even start wondering if your coverage extends, you need to understand that permission is a must.

You should be aware of the fact that someone living in the household who has regular access to your car is not granted coverage under the permissive user status.

All drivers living in your home must be on your policy because of the risk exposure.

Here are some circumstances where coverage extends for those who do not live in your home:

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You Are Letting A Friend Borrow Your Car for a Week

Can you add someone to your car insurance for a week? Your friend’s vehicle breaks down, and they are in need of a replacement. You have an extra car and do not need access to it in the near future.

Your friend does not regularly drive the car, but you are giving them permission until the car is repaired.

Your friend’s liability coverage will cover third-party damage, and your physical damage coverage will pay if the car needs repairs following a collision.

You Cannot Drive and Have a Friend Drive You Around Town

If you have surgery or have been ordered not to drive for a week, you can allow your friend to take you to doctor appointments in your vehicle. The friend will be covered as long as he is not an excluded driver and does not live in your household.

Sometimes household members with their own insurance will be covered as permissive users.

You Are Allowing Someone To Test Drive Your Car

If you are planning on selling your car, you need to have coverage and a valid registration just in case something happens on a test drive.

The person test driving the car does not need to be added. They will be covered under permissive use for the physical damage cover that you carry and for liability losses if they do not have a policy.

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When would another driver not be covered?

In addition to the scenarios already discussed, you’ll want to keep in mind a few other factors.

First of all, it’s not a good idea to let your teen driver have access to your car without adding them to your policy. Auto insurance providers may deny an insurance claim if your teen is driving the car and they are not listed on your policy.

The same goes for other potentially high-risk drivers in your household, i.e., someone who has a bad driving record.

These risky drivers will raise your auto insurance rates, but it’s important to make sure you have all the coverage you need. See if your teenage driver is eligible for a good student discount.

Furthermore, don’t expect to be covered if you lend your car to someone for several months. That person will need to get their own non-owner insurance policy while they are driving your car, and your insurance carrier may deny their claim if you try to file one.

Letting someone else drive your car without adding them to your policy could also be considered insurance fraud.

Other insurance discounts may be available to you for further premium reductions, such as the good-driver discount or distant student discount if you have a child who is away at school. Most of the largest car insurance companies offer multiple discounts to policyholders.

What’s the bottom line?

Car insurance can be very confusing — whether you’re adding someone to your car insurance for a day, week, or month. While there are complexities that are difficult to comprehend, you will always have an advocate to call and talk to when you have questions to ask.

Make sure that you really understand the type of policy you have and how coverage does or doesn’t extend to occasional drivers. Read your insurance contract carefully.

If you believe the driver needs to be added because of an exclusion, be sure to provide an accurate license number and list violations.

If you discover the rates are too high, it might be time to consider switching carriers. Get insurance quotes from multiple companies. Comparison shopping is the best way to find a good deal. Try to research quotes on a regular basis — about every six months.

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