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What is Non-Owner Car Insurance?

Taylor Moore

Taylor Moore

Finance & Insurance Writer

5 min. read

Non-owner car insurance covers licensed drivers who do not own a vehicle themselves. The policy offers liability coverage for bodily injury and property damage that occurs if you drive a car you don’t own — say, a friend’s car or a rental car. However, it does not cover the damage to the vehicle you borrowed, as that would come out of the car owner’s insurance policy.

Do I Need Non-Owner Car Insurance?

You may want to consider non-owner car insurance if:

  • You drive other people’s cars frequently. Non-owner car insurance is a good idea if you are a caregiver or rent cars for travel regularly. This can cover you if you get into an at-fault accident. Kimberlee Leonard, an insurance analyst at FitSmallBusiness.com, says that most auto insurance policies don’t have provisions that recognize permissive use (in which the driver is covered under the owner’s insurance if the owner gives permission to drive the car), so having your own non-owner car insurance is a hedge against uncertainty.
  • You use car rental and car-sharing services. If you look in the fine print of a Zipcar or Car2Go agreement, you’ll find that liability coverage isn’t guaranteed. Car rental agencies will often charge you expensive rates for limited coverage, so it’s best to do a little research and shop around before signing up for the most convenient option. Leonard says, “More people are using car share programs and shouldn’t rely on the car owner’s policy covering liability gaps.” Just make sure when gathering quotes from insurers that your policy does include rental cars.
  • You want insurance to fill in the gaps between cars. Leonard says that those who have sold a car and are looking to buy another can benefit from non-owner car insurance. A gap in your insurance history could get you labeled as a high-risk driver. In fact, you can even get reduced rates from some insurance companies for having continuous coverage.
  • You need your license reinstated. To maintain or get your driver’s license back after a major traffic violation (such as a DUI, a car accident, or reckless driving), you may be required by a court to show proof-of-liability insurance. Those who don’t own a car can get a non-owner policy (SR-22 or FR-44, depending on the state) as proof, Leonard says.

You do not need non-owner car insurance if:

  • You own a car. The non-owner car insurance policy is meant to insure drivers who do not have a vehicle of their own. If you are looking for a regular car insurance policy, read our roundup of the best car insurance companies.
  • You tend to only borrow the cars of family members or those you live with. In these instances, it’s best to get added to the owner’s policy rather than taking out your own policy. Non-owner car insurance is meant to provide secondary coverage, so if the owner’s policy has ample liability coverage, you may not need to get your own.
  • You rarely rent cars. You may not need to take on an insurance policy if you aren’t regularly renting cars. In this case, it may be cheaper or more convenient to pay for liability coverage at the car rental counter. 
  • You drive for business use. There are commercial non-owner policies available through insurers like Progressive that would better fit your needs.

What Non-Owner Car Insurance Covers

Non-owner car insurance typically provides the following coverage:

  • Bodily injury to others
  • Property damage to others
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist protection
  • Medical payments
  • Personal injury protection

Non-owner car insurance does not cover:

  • Bodily injury to your passengers
  • Collision damage to the borrowed vehicle
  • Damage to the borrowed vehicle from theft, vandalism, weather, etc.
  • Towing reimbursement
  • Rental car reimbursement
  • Vehicles you own

How to Shop for a Non-Owner Car Insurance Policy

Non-owner car insurance tends to be inexpensive compared to normal insurance. That said, you should still compare quotes amongst the top insurers. You generally won’t find quotes for non-owner insurance available online since it’s not a standard policy offering, so we recommend calling each company before making any final decisions. Some insurance companies that offer non-owner policies include Geico, The General, Nationwide, Progressive, and State Farm. As with other insurance policies, the insurer will likely take into account your driving record, location, age, and marital status when giving you a quote.

There are also some key considerations you should take into account when weighing your options. Leonard says, “Drivers should consider whether or not the cars they use have permissive use [in the policy], and if they do have it, how much has the owner insured the policy for.” This will determine whether or not you want to purchase supplemental non-owner insurance, and if so, how much.

Leonard also recommends getting high liability coverage and requesting medical payments in the policy. “This covers the driver and people in the car and not just the other party hit,” she explains.

What’s Next?

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