Who is covered on my car insurance?

Every driver listed on your policy is covered by your car insurance. When you add additional drivers to your policy, they are covered when they are driving that specific vehicle. Remember - auto insurance follows the car, not the person, so those drivers covered by your auto insurance are limited to driving the vehicle or vehicles listed on the policy.

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Tonya Sisler has a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of South Carolina in Journalism and has worked for 15+ years in management. She has also completed a proofreading certification and is currently a professional writer.

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Brad Larson has been in the insurance industry for more than a dozen years. He started out as a claims adjuster for a national carrier. He has since switched to the agency side of the business. Brad is licensed in all P&C lines.

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Reviewed by Brad Larsen
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent Brad Larsen

UPDATED: Apr 15, 2022

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Here's what you need to know...

  • Auto insurance is a product that covers a lot more than what’s explicitly listed on the declarations page of your policy
  • When you buy insurance, it’s important to know that sometimes that policy follows the car and other times it will follow the driver
  • If you grant someone permission to drive your vehicle on an occasional basis, they may be covered under the policy just like a rated driver is
  • If a driver lives in your home and is licensed, they must be rated on the policy to be covered if they have a loss in your vehicle
  • Carriers also expect you to list anyone who drives your car regularly
    if they aren’t insured elsewhere

When you own an auto insurance policy, it’s important to know who’s insured to drive your car at all times. Since not all drivers need to be listed on your insurance, understanding who is and isn’t covered can be a bit confusing.

The key is to understand what your insurer expects from you so that you can comply with the conditions of your contract.

Some companies have strict requirement concerning who must be listed and rated on your insurance.

While the rules can vary from company to company, most standard insurers have similar guidelines when it comes to which drivers need to be listed and which don’t.

Here’s what you need to know about drivers who have access to your car so that you can avoid a claims denial.

Start comparison shopping now to make sure you have the right coverage for all drivers on your account. Enter your zip code in our FREE comparison tool to get started!

It’s Your Responsibility to List Drivers With Regular Access to Your Vehicle


When you buy auto insurance, you are entering into an agreement with the insurer. Your insurer agrees to pay for claims as long as you are honest and forthcoming with the information that the company asks you to provide.

If you don’t disclose pertinent information, the company isn’t obligated to pay for claims. Insurers need to charge for any risk that’s present in the household.

If you know that a driver will have regular access to your vehicle, it’s your duty as the policyholder to add the driver to your policy. Adding them ensures there will be no confusions if you ever need to file a claim.

Here are some people who should be listed as rated drivers:

  • A spouse or significant other who lives in the home and doesn’t have their own insurance
  • A relative who lives in the household and who’s licensed to drive
  • An unrelated person who lives in the home, has a license, and doesn’t carry their insurance
  • A teen driver in the home who has passed their licensing exam
  • Anyone who frequently drives the vehicle even when they don’t live in the home

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You Are Not Required to Add Every Person Who Has Access to Your Car

One of the great things about auto insurance contracts is that they are flexible. They have been rewritten and modified to address different scenarios that can arise when you need to lend your car out to others.

Most companies offer flexibility when it comes to extending coverage to drivers who don’t always operate your car. Coverage is extended to individual drivers under the permissive use provision of your Personal Auto Policy.

This provision says that as long as the vehicle owner gives an eligible party permission to drive the covered auto, coverage will extend. Unfortunately, not everyone is a permissive user in the eyes of the carrier.

Who qualifies for permissive user status?


Companies will handle permissive use claims on a case-by-case basis. Under very rare circumstances, a company might extend coverage to a user who usually wouldn’t qualify.

This coverage determination is made when there’s a life-threatening emergency. Here is a list of factors that are considered to extend permissive user coverage:

  • The driver must have a valid license
  • The driver must be 25 years of age or older
  • The driver can’t live in the same household as the policyholder
  • The driver can’t have regular access to the vehicle
  • The driver can’t be listed as an excluded driver on the policy

What is an excluded driver?

If a high-risk driver lives in your household, your carrier may ask that you exclude the driver to keep your coverage from being canceled. Some policyholders even may choose to exclude drivers who qualify for coverage.

If you sign a driver exclusion, you are legally guaranteeing that driver won’t drive your car. If that operator does drive your car, with or without permission, the company is not obligated to pay for claims. It saves you money but be sure the driver doesn’t drive your car.

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How is a teen with a permit covered?


Teens who have their permit fall into a unique category and don’t qualify for permissive user status because they are too young.

While they aren’t covered under this provision, most carriers won’t charge for a teen until they are officially licensed.

Since teens who have a permit must be accompanied by an adult, insurers don’t usually ask you to list them until they pass their behind-the-wheel test.

Rules vary from company to company, so it’s best for you to contact your agent before you assume that you don’t need to list a teen with a provisional license.

What happens when a household driver has their own insurance?

Your insurance will follow your car as long as someone who’s covered is driving. With this being said, you don’t always have to list someone who lives in the household. It all depends on the person’s insurance status.

If you have a relative household member or a roommate who has their own car and insurance, the driver can be listed as a deferred operator. The insurer knows about the risk, but they don’t charge for the risk because there is another carrier involved.

If you are choosing not to list a driver for your own financial gain, it will bite you in the long run. Make sure to be upfront when you’re building your policy.

Pricing insurance policies through multiple carriers is the best way to find affordable rates. Use our FREE online rate comparison tool, price the cost to add drivers, and choose the best policy. Enter your zip code to get started!


  1. http://personalinsure.about.com/od/autoinsurancefaqs/f/autofaq5.htm
  2. http://carinsurance.about.com/od/RulesofThumb/a/Who-Is-Insured-To-Drive-My-Car.htm
  3. https://www.scc.virginia.gov/boi/co/pc/auto/PP00010105.pdf
  4. http://www.360financialliteracy.org/Topics/Insurance/Cars-and-Auto-Insurance/Who-s-Covered-under-Your-Auto-Insurance-Policy
  5. http://www.foxbusiness.com/features/2011/05/18/dont-hide-teen-driver-insurance-company.html
  6. http://www.investopedia.com/articles/pf/06/insurancecontracts.asp
  7. http://www.claimsjournal.com/news/national/2009/11/16/105163.htm
  8. http://carinsurance.about.com/od/High-Risk-Insurance/tp/What-Is-An-Excluded-Driver.htm
  9. http://www.naic.org/documents/consumer_alert_teen_driver.pdf
  10. http://www.claimsjournal.com/news/national/2014/06/05/249762.htm
  11. http://www.mass.gov/ago/consumer-resources/consumer-information/auto-and-vehicle-insurance/understanding-insurance.html

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