Do You Need Insurance to Drive Someone Else’s Car? (Videos + Data)

You do need insurance to drive someone else's car. If you are not insured to drive a car, you'll be financially responsible for any damages that happen to the car.

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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...

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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...

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Reviewed byJoel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: Jun 23, 2020

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Here's what you need to know...

  • If you are not insured to drive a car, regardless of who the owner is, then you are financially responsible for all damages resulting from an accident or any other incident
  • Driving without liability insurance is against state law and will result in fines and a possible jail sentence
  • Review your insurance policy to see if you need extra coverage to drive another person’s car

You need car insurance to drive someone else’s car. You can be insured either by the car owner himself or by non-owner car insurance. You do not necessarily need to take out a policy in your name.

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Do I need insurance to drive a friend’s car?

Can I drive an uninsured car on my policy? What happens if there is an uninsured driver driving an uninsured car? The car you’re driving needs to be insured. If your friend has insurance on the vehicle, that coverage will provide financial protection when you’re driving it.

You do not need your own policy to borrow a car. However, having your own insurance could provide additional protection. If your friend’s policy limits are exceeded, your coverage would kick in.

You should review the insurance policy to determine whether or not you need car insurance when driving someone else’s car.

The insurance policy may or may not cover this situation, but you should still check.

This type of coverage is often referred to as third-party coverage.

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Driving Without Car Insurance

What happens if you drive someone else’s car without insurance? Every state requires a minimum amount of liability coverage or some proof of financial responsibility. If you drive a car that is uninsured and you get caught, you’re going to face penalties even if you’re just borrowing that car.

Laws vary by state, but it is not uncommon to lose your license, pay heavy fines, and risk getting sentenced up to five years in jail for driving without insurance.

For example, if your state mandates that you have liability coverage for 20/40/10, then make sure the car you’re driving has insurance at least in the amounts of:

  • $20,000 liability coverage for bodily injury to one person
  • $40,000 liability coverage total for bodily injury to multiple persons
  • $10,000 liability coverage for property damage

Being Covered under Someone Else’s Car Insurance Policy

Car insurance almost always follows the car and not the policy owner. However, there are limitations on everyone’s car insurance policy that can make this confusing.

If you loan your car to someone, they will most likely be covered provided they do not fall into any of the exclusions categories.

If you have your own car insurance then your car insurance may follow you even though you are driving someone else’s car. Sometimes the accident damages costs are split between your coverage and the car owner’s coverage.

Review your policy or call your agent to confirm the details of your coverage.

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Getting Non-Owner Car Insurance

There are times when you don’t own a car but you plan to drive someone else’s car. If you don’t own a car, then you won’t have car insurance.

You may be covered on the car owner’s insurance policy, but if you are going to be driving routinely then you should either request to be specifically added to the policy or you should consider buying non-owner car insurance.

The owner of the car may also ask you to provide your own car insurance even if you are covered by his policy, so under that circumstance, you will need to comply and get non-owner car insurance.

Consider the type of driving you’ll be doing and decide which option works for your situation:

Type of DrivingOwner's CoverageNon-Owner CoverageYour Own Coverage
Occasional BorrowingThe car owner's insurance should cover youNot necessaryIf you have a car and insurance, your coverage may kick in if the damage you cause exceeds the owner's policy
Regular BorrowingThe owner should add you to the policy if you regularly drive their vehicleYou could consider purchasing this type of coverage if the owner doesn't want to list you as a driver on their policyIf you have a policy, it may kick in after the other coverages are exhausted
RentingYou can purchase coverage from the rental companyA non-owner policy may be cheaper for a long-term rentalYour own coverage will provide the same level of coverage to a rental vehicle. Just evaluate if your current coverage is substantial enough for a rental vehicle
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Non-owner car insurance is available for liability coverage and can be purchased for either a car that you are borrowing or renting.

If you are renting a car then you can buy rental insurance from the car rental company which could end up being more expensive than non-owner car insurance, especially if the rental is long term.

If you are getting car insurance to drive someone else’s car, make sure there is a clear understanding of whose insurance will cover liability and whose insurance will cover comprehensive damages.

If you are at fault for an accident, then your non-owner car insurance policy will pay for bodily injury and property damages suffered by the other parties of the accident.

However, if the car is stolen while it is under your care, chances are the car owner’s comprehensive insurance policy will cover those costs.

Anytime you are going to drive, whether the car is yours or someone else’s, you will need to be covered by car insurance.

To sum it up, here are the choices you have that are appropriate for different situations:

The car insurance can be your own, you can be covered by someone else’s policy, or you can buy non-owner’s car insurance. Whatever you do, make sure insurance is in place before driving any car.

The consequences of driving without insurance are severe and completely avoidable by just obtaining the proper amount of liability insurance.

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