Car insurance can be a major monthly expense, so it makes sense that people look for ways to keep their payments as low as possible. One way you can access more affordable rates is by getting a policy with others. One policy with multiple people on it usually results in overall cheaper insurance. For instance, it would likely be cheaper for a family of four to buy one policy instead of each member buying a separate policy.

However, before you recruit all of your friends and neighbors to join your policy, it’s important to be aware of insurance regulations. Provider policies and state codes often prevent you from adding people who don’t live with you to your policy. Here at American Auto Insurance, we’re here to help clear up this confusion. This guide should help you understand who you can add to your policy and ensure everyone gets the appropriate coverage at affordable rates.

Who Can I Add to My Car Insurance?

Chicago driver gripping the steering wheel.
Driver by Alice Salles is licensed with CC BY 2.0

Providers design car insurance policies to cover everyone in a single household. You can add your partner or spouse, teenagers, and any other relatives who live with you. It’s important to add household family members who regularly drive the vehicles on your policy. If you don’t, they might not receive the appropriate coverage if they’re involved in an accident.

Along the same lines, you should only list people who regularly have permission to use your car. For instance, if an elderly parent who no longer drives moves into your home, you don’t have to list them on your policy. This move would save you and them from unnecessarily contributing to the monthly premium.

Note that you can add people who live in your household to your policy even if they’re not related to you. For instance, you might add your roommate to your policy if you share a car or if they frequently drive yours. If each roommate has their own car, it might be better to get separate policies. Be sure to ask your insurance agent for the best way to obtain affordable, comprehensive coverage.

Can I Add Someone Who Doesn’t Live With Me to My Car Insurance?

Though car insurance providers design policies to cover single households, there are a couple of exceptions to the rule. The main exception is when a teenager starts attending college and takes a family vehicle with them. Most providers allow parents to leave their teenagers on their auto policies while they attend college.

Be sure to notify the provider of the teenager’s address change. If you don’t and the insurance company finds out, your teenager might lose their coverage. Note that the insurance company might change your rate because of the address change, as providers determine premiums based on location. Additionally, you might have to adjust your teenager’s coverage if they attend school out of state to comply with mandatory insurance requirements. It’s also important to recognize that a provider might charge additional fees once an adult child reaches a certain age, so contact your agent to better understand the company’s terms.

A rarer instance in which you may add someone who doesn’t live with you to your policy is by adding them as a “nonresident driver.” Per the term, a nonresident driver is someone who lives outside of your household but frequently uses a vehicle on your plan. Insurance companies have different definitions of “frequently,” but it usually describes a driver who uses a vehicle more than 12 times per year. In many cases, coverage might be void if a nonresident driver uses the vehicle for paid or commercial purposes.

What Happens if Someone Who Isn’t on My Insurance Policy Drives My Car?

It’s common for people other than those you live with to drive your car. This can cause concern, as most auto insurance policies only list the people in your household. So, what happens when you lend your car to someone who doesn’t live with you?

The good news is that most policies cover occasional, nonlisted drivers as long as you permitted them to drive your vehicle. While the coverage can be comprehensive, some providers offer only limited coverage to nonlisted drivers. Note that a nonlisted driver is usually someone who uses your car less than 25% of the time. For instance, a policy would likely cover a friend who borrows your car while they’re on vacation or waiting for a shop to finish repairing their vehicle.

What’s the Difference Between Permissive and Nonpermissive Use?

As we mentioned above, nonlisted drivers can only receive coverage under your policy if you permitted them to drive your vehicle. Nonpermissive use of a vehicle wouldn’t make your insurance company liable. For example, if your teenager’s friend drives your vehicle without asking you and gets in an accident, they would be responsible for the damages.

What Happens When I Add New People to My Policy?

Before you add someone to your policy, consider how their addition might affect your monthly premium. For instance, teenagers being on a policy can significantly increase your rates because insurance companies consider them to be high-risk drivers. If you live with a roommate who has poor credit or a bad driving record, they could also raise your rates. Regardless of who you add to your policy, it’s important to request multiple quotes to get the best deal.

Does Car Insurance Follow the Car or Driver?

Most car insurance policies follow the car, not the driver. This means that if you allow a friend to drive your car, your insurance company would cover damages if they caused an accident. However, if the friend has their own car insurance policy, their provider might be able to cover damages that your policy doesn’t.

While you can usually only add household members to your car insurance policy, there are exceptions. Some providers allow you to list college-bound children and nonresident drivers on your plan. Additionally, occasional drivers can receive coverage without being on your plan. If you have other questions about who can be on your policy, be sure to contact American Auto Insurance. We can also help you secure the most affordable rate for you and your family.


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