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Believe it or not, it’s important to carry car insurance even if you don’t own a car. This type of insurance is called non-owner car insurance, and it is, in layman’s terms, liability insurance for people who drive but don’t have a car registered under their name. It covers bodily injuries and property damage to other people or their property while you’re driving a vehicle that you don’t own, and can be purchased for a number of reasons, ranging from frequent car rentals to borrowing a car on a regular basis.

Before we go any further and begin examining the best non-owner car insurance, there are a couple of unique things to note about this type of insurance. The first is that non-owner insurance isn’t appropriate for drivers who live with the owner of the car that they’re driving; in that case, you need to be listed as a car’s primary policy. Second, this type of insurance doesn’t cover the damage done to the vehicle that you’re driving, as it’s not assigned to any particular vehicle. For that reason, it’s almost always less expensive than a typical car insurance policy, but you are responsible for the repair costs if you’re involved in an accident while driving a car you don’t own.

Now that we’re clear on what non-owner auto insurance is, let’s examine which companies are best for this type of coverage.

What companies offer non-owner auto insurance?

There are only a handful of insurance companies that offer non-owner insurance that’s available nationwide, although there may be some state-specific companies that offer it as well. The companies that offer nationwide non-owner policies are:

  • Geico
  • State Farm
  • Nationwide
  • The General
  • Progressive (only available to existing customers)

How do they stack up?

Geico

  • BBB: “B+” rating; 1 out of 5 stars from customer ratings. Geico’s BBB ranking is a “B+” due to a failure to respond to customer complaints. Customers rated Geico at 1 out of 5 stars with over 300 reviews, which is the lowest rating possible.
  • JD Power: JD Power, on the other hand, ranked Geico an average 3 out of 5 stars on everything but the rental car process.
    • 3 out of 5 for overall satisfaction
    • 3 out of 5 for final notice of loss
    • 3 out of 5 for the estimation process
    • 3 out of 5 for the repair process
    • 5 out of 5 for the rental car process
    • 3 out of 5 for claims servicing
    • 3 out of 5 for settlement

State Farm

  • BBB: “A” rating; 1 out of 5 stars from customer ratings. Like Geico, State Farm is not BBB accredited, but is rated “A” on their BBB ranking, which does not take into account customer ratings. There are about 230 customer ratings for State Farm on the BBB site, and they rank the company at 1 out of 5 stars.
  • JD Power: JD Power gave State Farm average scores in everything but claims servicing, according to the results of the U.S. Auto Claims Satisfaction Survey (2018).
    • 3 out of 5 for overall satisfaction
    • 3 out of 5 for final notice of loss
    • 3 out of 5 for the estimation process
    • 3 out of 5 for the repair process
    • 3 out of 5 for the rental car process
    • 4 out of 5 for claims servicing
    • 3 out of 5 for settlement

Nationwide

  • BBB: “A+” rating; 1 out of 5 stars from customer ratings. Nationwide is BBB accredited, and is rated “A+” according to their BBB ranking, which does not take into account customer ratings. Customers, on the other hand, give the company at 1 out of 5 stars.
  • JD Power: JD Power gave Nationwide 3 out of 5 stars across the board, according to the results of the U.S. Auto Claims Satisfaction Study (2018).
    • 3 out of 5 for overall satisfaction
    • 3 out of 5 for final notice of loss
    • 3 out of 5 for the estimation process
    • 3 out of 5 for the repair process
    • 3 out of 5 for the rental car process
    • 3 out of 5 for claims servicing
    • 3 out of 5 for settlement

The General

  • BBB: The lowest-ranked, with a “C” according to the BBB ranking. There are no customer reviews on the BBB site. The General is not BBB accredited and was given a “C” by BBB due to a lack of response to customer complaints and the length of time the business has been operating.

Progressive

  • BBB: “B-” rating; 1 out of 5 star customer rating. Progressive is not BBB accredited, and received a “B-” according to the BBB ranking for a failure to respond to complaints by customers against the company.
  • JD Power: JD Power gave Progressive 3 out of 5 stars across the board, according to the results of the U.S. Auto Claims Satisfaction Study (2018).
    • 3 out of 5 for overall satisfaction
    • 3 out of 5 for final notice of loss
    • 3 out of 5 for the estimation process
    • 3 out of 5 for the repair process
    • 3 out of 5 for the rental car process
    • 3 out of 5 for claims servicing
    • 3 out of 5 for settlement

If you’re looking for non-owner insurance, Geico, State Farm and Nationwide are options, and they all rank well overall. Progressive ranks pretty highly as well, although you can’t get non-owner coverage from Progressive unless you’re already a customer.

Ultimately, deciding which company is “best” for you is a personal decision and will require some research on your part. It will depend on why you’re buying a non-owner policy, what your driving record is like and the quotes for your premiums.

Who needs non-owner car insurance?

To be clear, hardly anyone “needs” non-owner car insurance for legal reasons. Rarely are drivers court-ordered to obtain this type of insurance. In most cases, non-owner policies are just an option, not a requirement. Still, you should consider non-owners insurance if you:

  • Frequently rent cars
  • Frequently borrow cars
  • Drive a company car
  • Aren’t planning to drive for an extended period of time (perhaps you’re out of the country or sold your car and don’t need a vehicle-specific policy yet)

It can be required by the courts, though, in cases where there are serious vehicle infractions to warrant it. These cases call for SR-22 or FR-44 insurance, which is a type of insurance one must obtain to prove fiscal responsibility to the court to get a driver’s license reinstated. If you aren’t a car owner but need to show proof of SR-22 or FR-44 insurance, a non-owner policy would be the right option for you. These cases are not the norm, though, and are often due to:

  • A DUI incident
  • A serious traffic accident

How do I obtain non-owner car insurance?

None of the companies that offer non-owner car insurance will give quotes for it online. In order to purchase this type of insurance, you have to call the insurance company and request it over the phone. You’ll be required to give them some information, including your driver’s license number, and you’ll need to have your payment method ready if you’re planning to purchase the policy.