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.
Non-owner insurance 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.
When do you need non-owners car insurance?
Although the idea of having car insurance when you don’t own a car may not seem necessary, there are circumstances where it’s a good idea.
You frequently borrow or rent cars
If you sometimes drive someone else’s car, non-owner car insurance might come in handy. If you’re in an at-fault accident using your friend’s car, and you exceed the limit of their insurance policy, non-owner insurance would help you pay for any damages you still owe. However, if you live with the person whose car you often use, you will have to be added to their policy.
Your license has been suspended and you need an SR-22
An SR-22 is a certificate saying you have your state’s minimum liability coverage. People sometimes refer to it as “SR-22 insurance,” but it’s not actually an insurance policy. It’s a form required to lift a suspension from your license after such things as serious accidents, DUI’s, or driving without insurance. It says you are maintaining coverage and are legally responsible for any accidents, but it is not insurance.
You’re between vehicles and want to avoid a lapse in coverage
Having lapses in your insurance is a red-flag that inspires higher rates among insurers. To keep rates lower over the long term, sometimes it makes sense to get a non-owners policy.
How to get non-owner car insurance
Most insurance companies don’t advertise that they have non-owners insurance. Furthermore, some won’t issue non-owner car insurance over the phone or online, you have to get it in person with a broker or an agent.
Some companies don’t offer non-owner insurance at all. Three of the biggest companies that do not offer it at all are Allstate, Esurance and Liberty Mutual, however, the companies listed below do offer non-owner insurance over the phone.
Cost of non-owner insurance
The average yearly cost of non-owner insurance is between $300–$500 a year, according to Insurance.com. This differs from a regular auto insurance policy because usually the insurer takes into account the value of the car you drive when determining your rate. With non-owners insurance, there is no car. The insurance company sets your rate by their estimate of how likely you are to cause an accident.
There are several factors insurance companies look at when setting your rate for a non-owners insurance policy. Things like your marital status, credit score, your age, and of course, your driving record are all factors the insurance company considers.
Frequently asked questions
Do I need non-owner insurance if I am borrowing a car from a family member?
If you only borrow it occasionally then probably not. If you borrow it frequently, you might want to add non-owner coverage. It will protect you in case of an accident by adding liability coverage, personal injury protection and uninsured motorist coverage. If you live with the family member, you should be added to their policy as a driver.
Can I rent a car with non-owners insurance?
Definitely. Having non-owners insurance will save you from buying the rental car company’s pricy insurance and may save you money if you rent cars frequently.
My company issues me a company car. Does that mean I should get non-owners insurance?
No. Company cars are usually exempt from non-owner insurance. Usually a company vehicle policy covers the car when it’s used for business. If you use the company car all the time, you should add a “drive other car” endorsement to further protect you in case of accidents.
While driving a friend’s car, I got into an accident and totaled it. Does non-owners insurance cover the damage to his car?
No, but their car insurance should (assuming they have collision and comprehensive). Non-owners insurance will help if his policy is maxed out and the other car is damaged and/or the other party was injured. Since you don’t own any car, non-owners insurance doesn’t provide collision or comprehensive.