Im shopping around for insurance and have almost decided on Allstate because of the low cost on my two vehicles and renters insurance. My girlfriend and I bought a 2008 Nissan Altima two days ago and when I added it to my insurance it raise my monthly rates from $120 to $772, so I of course am shopping around frantically. The Nissan is being financed so it does require full coverage. My question is this; do I need to add my girlfriend on to my policy? When I asked for a quote with her as a secondary driver the man from Allstate asked if she lived with me and I said yes, he then said that if she has a valid drivers license from this state and my permission to drive the car she is fully covered under my policy, as long as the car is primarily in my name. I am the primary owner of the vehicle but her name is also on the title as secondary owner. That is what I am concerned about mostly. If something happened and it came down to the nitty gritty I want to be taken care of. Thank you in advance for your help and advice
You better consult with a professional insurance agent (face to face, AllState have local agents everywhere), and make sure they show you exactly in the policy where it confirms whatever that is that they're saying.
To the best of my knowledge, living together is not only not enough for her to be covered under your insurance, it is most certainly the opposite. It is my understanding that you can occasionally give people (with valid local licenses) your car with permission, and your insurance will cover the car (not sure about their liability, I'm talking about the damage to your car). However, this does not include systematic usage, only occasional. When you live with your girlfriend and she drives the car, especially if she's the owner of the car together with you, then it is most definitely systematic, and you have to either include her as a secondary driver, or have both of you as the insured.
Also, since the car is financed, the lender might have some additional requirements about her name in the insurance policy, since she's a partial owner, so call the lender and ask what they think about all that.
This is actually a complicated question as not only does it vary by state, but each insurance company has its own policies regarding this. I am going to try to provide some information that would typically remain the same regardless of state or company.
The insurance company's answer: Yes you should add her to the policy. Why? You are required by the terms of your contract to provide a fair representation of the risk that the company is assuming from you in exchange for premiums paid. If someone is a regular operator (varies by company) then failing to add them to the policy is potentially material misrepresentation, which could result in denial of claims and termination of the policy. Further if they can demonstrate that you misrepresented yourself for profit (for example reducing premiums) then that potentially qualifies as fraud. What is a regular operator? No clear definition but a company like GEICO for example would want you to add anyone who uses the vehicle more than once per year to the policy even if they do not live with you.
The real world answer: The odds of being charged with fraud for this type of misrepresentation are low, I never saw it happen even once in my time as a licensed auto claims adjuster for the New England states (as well as NY and NJ which do not require licensing). It is also possible that the company will not deny the claim even if they discover your misrepresentation (this can happen for many reasons such as policy holder was insured for 10 years with no accident and the current claim is for a tiny amount, it is better to pay the claim rather than lose a profitable customer). Keep in mind though the company has the right to deny the claim if they want. What would happen at that point is the underwriting department would be notified and the driver would be added to the policy, and your premiums would increase.
My final thoughts: You entered into a contractual agreement with a company (and even if you did not read the contract) you are legally and morally bound to adhere to it. So as a matter of being responsible you should honor the contract by adding the driver. If you do not care about that just remember that by not adding the driver you are gambling. The company can deny a claim, and it is the liability portion of the claim (paying for damages to a third party) that would be denied, leaving you potentially open for a lawsuit from the claimant. Of course if the service rep is aware of the driver and tells you that you do not need to add the driver then you would be in the clear, as long as you can prove that you attempted to add the driver and were told you did not have to.
A note regarding permissive use because there are a few comments about this here: If you borrow my car because your car is being serviced then under your policy my car qualifies as a temporary replacement, meaning that if you crash my car it is likely that your insurance will be primary (will have to pay first). If you borrow my car because it is more convenient than walking down the street to get your car then that is not a temporary replacement and as a result my policy would likely be primary in an accident.
If she drives the car more than once a month you should add her or your insurance will not cover damages if she gets in an accident while driving it.