Insuring Someone Else’s Car

You can insure someone else's car buy purchasing non-owner's car insurance. A non-owner's policy gives you liability protection if the car hurts someone or damages their property.

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Zaneta Wood, Ed.S. has over 15 years of experience in research and technical writing bringing a keen understanding of data analysis and information synthesis to reach a wide variety of audiences. She studied adult education and instructional technology at Appalachian State University as well as technical and professional communication at East Carolina University. Zaneta has prepared technical p...

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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 15, 2020

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Here's what you need to know...

  • Most insurance companies only allow you to insure property if you have an interest in it
  • Non-owners insurance policies can be purchased for cars you do not own
  • You must make sure whatever policy you buy adequately meets your state’s coverage requirements

Every car owner must purchase car insurance for his or her car based on the regulations of the state. In some cases, it is possible to insure someone else’s car, but typically this kind of insurance can only be done for liability coverage and not property coverage.

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Non-Owners Car Insurance Policy

If you don’t own a car, but you want or need to purchase coverage, then you can buy a non-owners insurance policy. Non-owners insurance policies will not cover the car itself since it’s not your property to insure, but you can get liability coverage.

Liability will protect you financially in the event you are responsible for damaging someone else’s body or car, but not the car you are driving. For the car you are driving to have property coverage, it must be insured by the owner or someone who has an interest in the property.

You may need to buy a non-owners insurance policy is if you are going to frequently drive someone else’s car but you have to provide your own liability insurance coverage.

Roommates, neighbors, friends, and non-immediate family members may choose to purchase non-owners insurance if they are going to rent or borrow your car.

Another example of when non-owners insurance may be needed is when parents allow their licensed children to drive their cars but require them to buy their own liability coverage.

Insurance rates can be impacted by credit scores, and most young people do not yet have a credit history built so insurance for younger drivers can be more expensive.

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Car Insurance Limitations

State laws require a minimum amount of liability coverage for bodily injury and property damage. This property damage does not extend to the car you are driving.

In addition to liability, non-owners insurance can be purchased for the following types of coverage:

  • Medical
  • Uninsured motorist
  • Underinsured motorist

However, you cannot buy non-owners insurance for comprehensive or collision insurance. Limitations also include towing and rental car reimbursement.

Vehicular Custody

In cases of vehicular custody, you can typically insure someone else’s car. Local authorities are allowed to take charge of abandoned vehicles, and in these cases, they may choose to purchase car insurance for the car even though they are not the owner.

Abandoned cars typically end up for sale in auctions, and any insurance coverage currently on them will not transfer to you if you are the winning bidder.

If you already have insurance on a vehicle, most insurance companies will allow you to bring your car home without notifying them, provided you contact them within a certain time frame, such as three days.

However, if you plan on purchasing a car, it is best to inform your agent ahead of time, so there are no surprises driving away with your new car from the auction site. The same suggestion applies if you are buying a car from a car dealer or a private owner.

Every state has different rules for abandoned cars. Typically if a car is parked for more than 48 hours on public property, such as a street, it can be considered abandoned. A car can sit on private property without moving for as long as the owner of the property allows.

If the property owner does not give you permission to park your car on his or her property, then the authorities can deem it abandoned after 48 hours as well.

Similarly, if you leave your car in a public garage for more than 10 days or so your car can be picked up by the authorities and treated as abandoned.

Cars left on the shoulder of the highway can also be considered abandoned, which is why it is always recommended that you stay with your car in the event of a breakdown and wait for help come to you.

Once an abandoned car is picked up by the authorities, a search for the owner will be initiated. There will be a short window of opportunity to respond, typically two weeks.

Then the car may be listed on the DMV website with an intention to sell at auction if there is no response within three weeks. After that, the car could be legally auctioned off and sold to a new owner.

If you legally buy someone else’s car at an auction, dealer, or for sale by owner, you own the car and can insure it yourself. To insure someone else’s car, you will need to buy non-owners insurance for financial protection.

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