Many people assume that driver’s insurance is only needed for individuals who own a car, but some specialty auto insurance policies help protect drivers in other unique situations. Non-owners car insurance is a little known policy type that provides liability protection to individuals who occasionally drive vehicles they do not own. While this situation isn’t common, understanding non-owners car insurance and when it applies is essential for making sure you have the right type of auto coverage.

Having a non-owner policy in place can benefit both the vehicle owner and the driver if a car is involved in an accident when the owner is not driving. A non-owner policy provides an additional layer of coverage that can help defray costs for the vehicle’s owner and minimize the claim against the owner’s insurance policy. It can also provide financial protection for the driver if he or she is found at fault in the accident. Car accidents can quickly rack up thousands of dollars in medical and property damages, so non-owner policies can be a cost-effective way to minimize these financial risks.

When do I need non-owner car insurance?

Non-owners insurance is designed specifically for licensed drivers who do not own a vehicle. With traditional auto insurance coverage, the policy is attached to a specific vehicle owned or frequently driven by named drivers on the policy. If a driver doesn’t own a vehicle (or live in a household with regular access to a vehicle), most insurers won’t cover that driver under a traditional policy. In these circumstances, a non-owners policy may be beneficial if:

  • You occasionally borrow a vehicle from someone you do not live with – If you only borrow a car from a friend once in a while and for a few days at a time, non-owner policies can provide liability protection.
  • You rent vehicles frequently – The insurance policies provided by rental companies can be quite expensive, so it may be cheaper to get a non-owner policy if you plan to rent vehicles often. However, a non-owner policy would only cover damages to another vehicle and would not cover repairs to your rental car.
  • You have an SR-22 or FR-44 requirement from your state – A non-owner policy can fulfill SR-22 or FR-44 requirements for certain high-risk drivers who are required to carry minimum levels of auto insurance to keep an active driver’s license. 
  • You sold your car but haven’t replaced it – Gaps in your auto insurance policy can be a red flag for insurers, so maintaining a minimum level of non-owner coverage can help you maintain continuous insurance coverage until you replace your vehicle.

When you don’t need non-owner car insurance?                    

While non-owner’s policies fill an important need for certain drivers, not all drivers without a vehicle should get one. Depending on the situation, some drivers may need a different type of insurance policy, while other drivers may not need any additional coverage at all. A non-owner’s insurance policy will NOT benefit you if:

  • You own a vehicle – Non-owner policies are specifically designed for people who do not own a vehicle; if you own a vehicle at all, you should get a regular auto policy, even if you occasionally drive vehicles other than the one you own.
  • You only rent vehicles a few times per year – Although non-owner coverage is typically cheaper than a traditional auto policy, renting a vehicle once or twice per year doesn’t warrant the added expense. In those cases, it’s cheaper to use the rental provider’s additional coverage options instead.
  • You occasionally borrow a vehicle from someone who already has good insurance – An auto policy protects a specific vehicle, and most comprehensive policies will cover the vehicle even for occasional drivers who aren’t named on the policy.
  • You live with the owner of the vehicle you regularly borrow – Most non-owner policies specifically exclude coverage when borrowing a vehicle from a friend or family member who lives with you. Additionally, if you borrow a car from someone for an extended period of time, most non-owner policies will exclude coverage then as well.

How to shop for a non-owner car insurance policy

Purchasing a non-owner car insurance policy is very similar to obtaining traditional car insurance. You’ll need to provide some basic personal information and be ready to answer questions about your insurance needs. To get started on finding the best non-owner car insurance policy, follow these steps:

  • Research to find out which insurance providers offer non-owner’s policies in your area. Start with these providers, though not all companies offer non-owner’s policies in all states.
Non-Owner Policy ProviderCall for a Quote
GEICO1-800-207-7847
The General1-844-328-0306
Direct Auto1-877-463-4732
Acceptance1-866-287-9456
Nationwide1-877-669-6877
  • Call each provider to obtain a quote by sharing requested personal information, including your contact information, recent driving history, desired coverage level, and reasons for needing this type of policy.
  • Compare each quote by considering the premiums, payment frequency options, amount of coverage provided, and any policy limitations that may apply. Some companies may offer monthly payments, while others may require the full premium paid in advance.
  • Secure your policy by providing the initial down payment, copies of your identification, and your signed policy agreements. Be sure to note your policy renewal date to avoid any lapse in coverage in the future.

How much does non-owner car insurance cost?

The price of a basic non-owners insurance policy in the U.S. averages around $485 per year, according to Credit Karma. However, this price can vary widely based on a number of factors. Geographic location, previous driving history, coverage levels, chosen insurance provider, and driver demographics all can influence the cost of a policy. For example, The Simple Dollar reports that a standard policy can cost as little as $311/year through GEICO, while a similar policy costs $677/year through Nationwide. Unfortunately, due to the number of factors that can affect the price of a policy, most carriers who offer non-owners insurance won’t provide average pricing. Some carriers, such as Dairyland, even exclude non-owner policies from their online self-service quote options and instead encourage drivers to contact them directly for accurate pricing information.

Acceptance Insurance does offer an online quote system that allows users to select “I don’t own a car” for self-service non-owner policy quotes. When contacting Acceptance by phone for average policy pricing, they weren’t able to provide a national average, but Acceptance representative Matt confirmed that non-owner insurance policy costs are in line with the cost of a traditional liability-only policy, and in some cases, it may even be cheaper. Since drivers with non-owner coverage are infrequently behind the wheel and only a minimal level of coverage is provided, these policies are often significantly less than the cost of a traditional full-coverage policy.

What’s next?

About the Authors

Julia Taylor is a freelance writer based in Nashville, TN. She takes complex business, financial, and technical topics and makes them easy to understand. She worked in the insurance industry for several years as a licensed agent in Tennessee. You can find her work published on a variety of business blogs, including Paychex, Kapitus, Sanford Brown, Fortis Educational Institutes, American University of Antigua, and Interest.com. She also earned her bachelor's degree in business from the University of Tennessee and her MBA from Tennessee Tech University. When she's not working on her next writing piece, you can find her working in the yard or spending time with her three teenaged children.