Adding a driver to your car insurance

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There are the big moments in life where adding a driver to your car insurance becomes necessary. Events such as getting married or your teenager learning to drive are two common examples. But there are other circumstances where someone may need to be added to your policy. On the other hand, there are times when it may not be necessary at all to make any permanent changes.

No matter what household changes you are experiencing, knowing the correct way to get a driver added and how it will impact your policy is useful as you manage your auto insurance.

Why would I need to add a driver to my car insurance?

Adding a driver to insurance is necessary whenever someone else is given permission to drive your vehicle when they need or want to and you live at the same address. Adding a driver to your policy is usually tied to a change in your household. Most insurance companies require the additional driver to live within the same household, or to be listed as an owner of the vehicle.

There are several scenarios where adding a driver may be necessary.

  • Your teenager has started driving: If your teenager has their learner’s permit, it’s the right time to add them to your auto insurance policy. Teen drivers are at a higher risk of vehicle crashes, according to the CDC, so adequate coverage is a must when they start using the vehicle. It is worth noting that adding a driver with a learner’s permit does not impact our premiums – but insurers do want to know that an inexperienced driver is beginning to use the vehicle(s) and will be licensed soon.
  • Someone new joins the household: If you have a family member joining your household, such as a sibling or parent, and they do not have their own policy, then consider adding them. You should also do this if you have a boyfriend or girlfriend moving in, or a spouse and they are given access to your vehicle.
  • Your roommate does not have a vehicle and borrows your car regularly: If your roommate does not have their own vehicle and their own policy, but drives your vehicle on a routine basis, then inquire about getting them added. Since you live in the same household you may be able to add them, but this should be verified by your insurance carrier.

When you do not need to add a driver to your car insurance

There are two scenarios where it is not necessary to add a driver to a policy. The first is when they do not live at your address. The requirement to add a driver with most carriers is they must be a part of the household to be added.

The second scenario is if the driver only occasionally borrows your vehicle. Since car insurance is tied to the vehicle, and not only the driver, this means there are coverages in your policy that should allow for infrequent use by someone else. This is referred to as the “permissive user” clause, and the coverage options vary by carrier. Before you allow your friend or neighbor to borrow your vehicle, a quick review of your current policy’s coverage for permissive use will give you a better understanding of what is covered.

Can I temporarily add someone to my car insurance?

You can temporarily add someone to your car insurance policy. This may be necessary if you have a nanny or babysitter living with you full-time during the summer, for example, and you are giving them access to your vehicle.

Each carrier has different criteria for adding someone on temporarily, so if you find yourself in this situation, it’s best to confirm with the carrier first for the right course of action.

How do I add a driver to my car insurance policy?

Adding someone to car insurance is a fairly straightforward process, and similar to when you first initiated your own policy. If you have a local agent you work with, a quick phone call and relaying the information is typically all you need. Some carriers allow you to add a driver online or through the mobile app.

When adding a driver, you will need to provide the following information:

  • Legal name
  • Birthdate
  • Social security number (depending on state and insurer)
  • Gender (in most states)
  • Occupation
  • Driver’s license number

There may be additional information needed, depending on your provider.

Frequently asked questions

If someone borrows my car and they are in an accident, are they covered?

Permissive use is allowed for anyone who is not listed on your policy. What is different, however, is how each carrier covers someone who is borrowing your vehicle. Most will extend the liability, comprehensive, collision and medical payments to a permissive use driver to the limits the vehicle is already covered under your current insurance policy, but there are exceptions. Check with your insurance provider for exact coverage details.

If someone borrows my car but they have their own insurance, would their insurance cover them?

There may be an assumption that if you allow someone to borrow your car on a regular basis then their own auto policy will cover an at-fault accident. However, in most states, the insurance of the vehicle owner is the primary factor, according to the Insurance Information Institute. This means your coverage would be the first one used, so you should verify how your policy protects someone borrowing your vehicle.

Does adding a driver increase car insurance rates?

Adding a driver will most likely increase your auto insurance rates. This is especially true if you are adding a teen driver, or someone with multiple violations on their driving record. If you are adding someone and you find you have a big increase in premiums, shopping around and switching carriers may be the best approach for saving money.

How can I lower my car insurance premiums?

In addition to shopping around, there are other strategies for keeping premiums within your budget. Ask about any and all discounts available with your carrier, some of which may not have been available to you when you first signed on. Having each member of the household take a defensive driving course may help lower premiums too.

Written by
Sara Coleman
Insurance Contributor
Sara Coleman has three years of experience in writing for insurance domains such as Bankrate, The Simple Dollar, Reviews.com, Coverage.com and numerous other personal finance sites. She writes about insurance products such as auto, homeowners, renters and disability.
Edited by
Insurance Editor