Do You Need Insurance to Drive Someone Else’s Car?

Why You Can Trust trust shield

At, it’s our mission to find simple ways to help our customers save money on the things they need. While we partner with some of the companies and brands we talk about in our articles, all of our content is written and reviewed by our independent editorial team and never influenced by our partnerships. Learn about how we make money, review our editorial standards, and reference our data methodology to learn more about why you can trust

Two people in a car

In general, car insurance follows the vehicle, not the driver. So, when you drive another person’s vehicle, the owner’s car insurance policy may provide you with some degree of protection if you’re in an accident — even if you don’t have your own auto insurance.

But this rule can have exceptions. And if you think you’ll be driving someone else’s car often, their car insurance company might expect them to add you as a driver on their policy.

This article covers what you should know about driving someone else’s car and what happens if you get into an accident — plus, we explain non-owner car insurance and when to consider it.

Get Cheap Car Insurance Rates in Minutes

Can You Drive Someone Else’s Car Without Insurance?

Yes, you can drive someone else’s car even if you don’t personally have auto insurance. But the car’s owner must have an active insurance policy that meets state-minimum car insurance requirements. You also need the owner’s permission to use their vehicle.

Of course, there’s also the question of coverage, which could complicate things further. If you get into an accident or damage their car while borrowing it, there’s no guarantee their insurance policy will cover you. This boils down to whether you have permission to drive the vehicle and if the car owner’s insurance will cover all or only part of the claim.

We’ll cover this in more detail below.

Permissive Use vs. Non-Permissive Use

parent teaching teen how to drive

Before you drive someone else’s car, it’s important to understand the difference between two key terms — permissive and non-permissive use.

  • Permissive use: The owner gives you permission to drive their vehicle. In this situation, the owner’s car insurance may offer you some protection if you get into an accident, depending on the details of the incident and if the policy contains permissive use coverage.
  • Non-permissive use: The owner didn’t give you permission to drive their vehicle. If you get into an accident, you (or your insurance company) will likely be responsible for covering the cost of any damages or injuries.

Keep in mind that if you’re a listed driver on the car owner’s, you should be able to file a claim under their policy if you get into an accident. But if you’re an unlisted driver and get into an accident, the insurer may cover the accident if the owner gave you permission to drive.

Let’s look at how auto insurance works if someone gets into an accident while driving your car.

How Insurance Works If Someone Gets into an Accident in Your Car

Anytime you loan someone your vehicle, there’s a chance an accident could happen. So, it’s important to understand the risk you’re taking before handing over your keys — especially if you haven’t listed them as a driver on your insurance policy.

Your insurance company might not cover the cost of repairs and damages if they aren’t a listed driver on your policy. How your policy kicks in after someone gets into an accident in your car depends on the coverage you have. Here are some example scenarios.

  • Liability coverage: If you loan someone your car and they cause an accident, your liability coverage would only pay for the other driver’s damages, repairs, and medical bills. It won’t cover any damage to your vehicle. In most states, even if the driver has their own insurance, your insurance is the primary policy in an accident.
  • Collision coverage: If you loan your car to someone else and they cause an accident, your insurance pays for your vehicle repairs or replacement. But it won’t cover any medical bills or damage to the other driver’s vehicle.

Keep in mind that if your insurer covers the accident claim (up to the policy limit), you’ll have to pay your deductible first. And if your insurance company denies the claim, the driver or their insurance company may be responsible for those costs.

When an insurer may refuse to cover the other driver

If you loan your car to another driver and an accident happens, your insurer might not cover the other driver in some situations — even if you give them permission to use your car. These include:

  • Commercial purposes: If you loan your vehicle to a friend and they use it for business purposes, like ridesharing or grocery delivery, your insurer likely won’t cover the accident. Typically, you would need a specific type of policy for the car, such as commercial or rideshare insurance.
  • Inexperienced or unlicensed drivers: If you loan your car to an inexperienced driver or someone without a driver’s license, your insurer will likely deny the accident claim if they get into an accident while driving your car.

How Non-Owner Car Insurance Works

teens in a car driving

If you don’t own a vehicle but borrow someone’s car frequently, you might consider purchasing a non-owner car insurance policy. This type of car insurance is often more affordable than a standard auto insurance policy, but your actual rate can vary based on factors such as your age, location, and driving history.

Non-owner car insurance provides liability car insurance on top of the vehicle owner’s existing coverage if you get into an accident while driving someone else’s car. Some non-owner car insurance policies may also provide medical payments (MedPay) coverage, personal injury protection (PIP), and uninsured motorist insurance.

If you’re interested in a non-owner car insurance policy, shopping around and comparing offers from multiple insurance companies is a good idea. Here are some insurance companies that offer non-owner car insurance:

Get Cheap Non-Owner Insurance Rates in Minutes

Questions to Ask Before Letting Someone Drive Your Car

Always consider the risks when you let someone borrow your car, and take steps to protect yourself before handing over the keys. Here are some questions you should ask them.

  • Do you have a driver’s license?
  • Do you have your own car insurance policy?
  • Can you provide proof of your car insurance?
  • Do you have a good driving record?
  • Why do you want to borrow the car?

Be sure that their license and car insurance are current and that they have a good driving record without a history of tickets and at-fault accidents. You also want to make sure they’re borrowing your vehicle for non-business purposes only.

It’s also a good idea to ask your insurance company if your policy includes permissive use coverage. If so, find out if the coverage has any restrictions or limitations. Remember that it’s okay to deny someone’s request to borrow your car — especially if you’re uncomfortable with their answers to any of the questions above.

Questions to Ask Before Borrowing Someone’s Car

couple with sunglasses smiling in a car

You also want to be careful when borrowing someone’s car. Protect yourself by asking the right questions. Here are some things to ask:

  • Did the vehicle’s owner give you permission to borrow the vehicle?
  • Do they have the minimum insurance their state requires on the vehicle?
  • What type of insurance coverage do they have on the vehicle?
  • Where do they keep their insurance card in the vehicle?
  • Is the vehicle’s maintenance current?

You should also consider what might happen if you have an accident or damage their vehicle while it’s in your possession. That’s why you should be clear on whether they have a liability-only policy or full coverage — and if you can afford to pay for any damages the owner’s insurance policy won’t cover.

This is especially important if the car owner doesn’t have full-coverage car insurance or has low coverage limits. If an accident happens, you’ll be on the hook for any repairs, damages, or medical expenses their car insurance doesn’t cover.

FAQs About Insurance When Borrowing a Car

Below are answers to common questions about how car insurance works when borrowing a vehicle.

Will adding a driver to your auto policy affect your premium?

Yes. Adding another driver to your policy can affect your rates, and your insurer will likely increase your premiums. But it’s usually less expensive to insure multiple drivers under one policy than to pay for several single-driver insurance policies.

What insurance do you need to drive someone else’s car?

A non-owner car insurance policy can protect you if you plan to regularly drive vehicles that don’t belong to you. But if you only borrow vehicles occasionally, you don’t necessarily need your own insurance as long as the vehicle owner has an active (and sufficient) auto policy. But, if you loan your car to others regularly, you should verify that your car insurance covers them and learn about any restrictions that may apply.

Does insurance follow the car or the driver?

Generally, the car insurance policy follows the car, not the driver. So, as long as you have an active insurance policy, it should cover your vehicle after an accident, even if you allow a friend or family member to borrow it. Just keep in mind that your insurance rates will likely increase, even if you weren’t the one driving.

Does the car owner need to add you to their policy if you drive their car often?

Not necessarily, but it’s a good idea. If you borrow someone’s car on a frequent basis, consider asking them to add you to their car insurance policy. This could help you avoid potential coverage problems if you get into an accident. In some states, people who live in the same home, such as family members or roommates, have to list each other on their car insurance policy as well.

Do you have to let your insurer know if you’re lending your car to someone?

No, you don’t have to let your insurer know. But it’s better to be safe than sorry when lending your car to someone — especially if they aren’t listed on your insurance policy. It’s not typically a requirement, but you may want to check with your insurance company to ask about coverage, limitations, and rules since they can vary from company to company.


  1., “Permissive Use” Car Insurance Coverage, Accessed April 24, 2024

Compare Car Insurance Quotes

About’s #1 goal is to save you money. We publish resources that are based on hard-hitting data and years of industry experience to help you make more informed decisions with your wallet.

  • All of’s content is written and reviewed for accuracy by a team of experienced writers and editors who are experts on the topics they cover.
  • None of’s content is ever influenced by the companies and brands we partner with.
  •’s editorial team operates independently of any of the company’s partnership or business development interests. We publish unbiased information strictly for the benefit of our readers.
  • All of the content you see on is based on comprehensive analysis and all data is gathered and vetted from trustworthy sources.

Learn more about us, our team, and what makes us tick.