18

Almost all auto insurers I speak with require that I give them the model and make of the car I will be driving. For example:

  • Chevrolet Silverado
  • Honda Civic
  • Subaru Outback

Consider if I got in a car accident when I was...

  • driving a friend's car
  • If I was on vacation driving a rental car
  • if I was driving family-member's car when an auto accident occurs

Any insurance claim I file would be denied, because I was not driving a vehicle covered by my policy.

How do I get auto liability insurance in the United States to cover ANY car I am driving?

12
  • 5
    First problem with answering questions about US auto insurance is that auto insurance laws (and most other things to do with cars) are different in every state. Second problem is that rates are very much affected by the make of car. (And that's just liability, without getting into collision & comprehensive.) But generally the policy for a car covers occasional use by other drivers.
    – jamesqf
    Oct 17 '20 at 17:07
  • 4
    I'm pretty sure my USAA policy covers me no matter what car I'm driving. Especially because I don't own a car and I have a non-owner's policy. Consider calling your insurer and just ask them if you're covered in those other situations and if not, whether there's a way to add that coverage. Oct 18 '20 at 5:31
  • 6
    If you have a car, and have insurance as the owner/driver of that car, the same insurance will normally cover your incidental use of other cars that aren't yours. If you don't have a car, see the answers below about non-owner insurance policies. Oct 18 '20 at 22:48
  • 10
    Your statement “Any insurance claim I file would be denied, because I was not driving a vehicle covered by my policy” is completely false for any insurance policy I’ve ever heard of.
    – prl
    Oct 19 '20 at 5:56
  • 5
    What happened when you read your insurance policy? Oct 19 '20 at 21:00
37

There is a kind of insurance like this, for people who don't own a car but nonetheless want to be covered for any car they drive, for example when renting a car or borrowing a friend's car. This kind of insurance goes under a couple of different names. When I first got it over 10 years ago, it was called "no-name insurance". But when I did a web search for that term just now what came up instead was "non-owner car insurance".

26

Let's look at your examples one by one:

driving a friend's car

  • Your friend's insurance would likely cover you instead of your own

If I was on vacation driving a rental car

Many, but not all, insurance policies cover cars you rent by the insured drive. You can also get insurance for a fee from the rental company. A 3rd option, is that some credit cards provide insurance if you rent a car using their card.

if I was driving family-member's car when an auto accident occurs

Same story as if you were driving your friend's car. However, if you LIVE with that family member and aren't listed on their policy it may be an issue depending on how frequently you drive it.

This system makes sense because they price the insurance in terms of how much risk they are accepting. It would be much more expensive for them to pay a claim on a Ferrari than a Chevy Malibu, so they have to price it that way. Assuming you could convince an insurance company to cover ANY car you could possibly drive, they would have to assume the worst and charge you extremely high rates.

8
  • 21
    I think you're not making the distinction between (legally mandated) liability insurance, which covers damage you may do to others, and collision & comprehensive, which covers damage (and theft &c) to your car. A liability claim on a Ferrari isn't likely to be all that much more expensive than a Chevy Malibu (though Ferrari drivers may be considered a high-risk group)
    – jamesqf
    Oct 18 '20 at 2:55
  • 5
    @jamesqf Is totally right. Collision and liability are totally different, and they are priced differently. Collision is usually priced based on your car and your driving record. Liability is more based on where you live and the other drivers and cars where you live. That's one reason why car insurance is so expensive in Los Angeles - the other cars in the LA area can be very expensive. Oct 18 '20 at 5:35
  • 8
    "Many, but not all, insurance policies cover cars you rent by the insured drive" - this sentence appears to have been mangled. I don't know what it was supposed to mean. Oct 18 '20 at 5:37
  • 3
    @jamesqf "(though Ferrari drivers may be considered a high-risk group)" - Or they might not be, because they tend to make fewer miles in their Ferrari, or be more careful since the car is expensive. A little while ago, I was window shopping Ferrari 360s (hey, I can dream ok) and checked what liability insurance would cost with my current insurer. It turned out to be only cents more than liability for my current, far more modest, car :)
    – marcelm
    Oct 18 '20 at 12:02
  • 1
    Credit cards often provide insurance that covers the rental car itself, but not liability. It's important to make sure you have coverage for both. Oct 18 '20 at 17:03
15

Ask insurers directly about "named non-owner" policies. They're uncommon, not all insurers offer them and those that do have to manually underwrite and manually quote the rate. It's not going to show up in any automatic tools.

4

Auto liability coverage follows the driver, no matter whose vehicle is being operated, so long as the operator has the owner's permission to use the vehicle.

You will see the opposite stated in many places. But that is an answer to a different question. For example, say you are driving a friend's car and get into an accident. State law may require your friend's policy to cover you. In that case, you have no liability because your friend's insurance covers the accident. So the question of whether or not your liability insurance would have covered you if you did have liability becomes a purely academic one.

If you have liability, you have coverage. Someone else's insurance will cover it in most cases, so you won't have liability anyway.

1
  • 2
    Liability is not an absolute position. The friends insurance will be liable towards the other vehicle, but your friend might be still liable towards the insurer (if only for a deductible). It probably depends on many factors whether you're then liable towards your friend.
    – MSalters
    Oct 19 '20 at 9:30
0

Double check with your insurance company's agent but ...

In the case of an accident, the car owner's insurance will pay first. The drivers insurance pays second. Points (a system used by most, if not all, US states to establish who are bad drivers) go to the record of the driver.

I learned this 20 years ago when I was going to loan a car to my English cousin. Interestingly, we presumed that points would not cross the Atlantic.

You might want to discuss with the owner who pays the deductible.

There are also limits on what an insurance policy will pay. Most policies will not pay enough to cover a wrecked Ferrari. So, borrowing a Ferrari is not likely to happen.

Rental car companies charge absurd rates. Figure the administrative costs and they might be renting to drunk drivers. A US company is not likely want to cover a rental in Mexico or Europe, or likely anywhere but the 50 states. However, AAA has reasonable insurance for that.

PS: They want to know your daily driver since that is what counts for other coverages, et cetera.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.