Does car insurance cover the car or the driver? 

Car insurance typically covers the car rather than the driver. When you purchase car insurance, you are insuring the vehicle itself against various risks such as accidents, theft, vandalism, and other covered perils. The coverage applies to the insured vehicle regardless of who is driving it, as long as the person driving has the owner's permission.

When does your car insurance cover other drivers?

If you specifically list other drivers on your insurance policy, they will be covered when driving your car. Anyone who regularly uses your car should be listed on your insurance policy to ensure coverage. Insurance companies may require you to list all household members or regular drivers on your policy to assess risk and set premiums.

Even if the driver isn't listed on your policy, they may still be covered if you permit them to drive your car and carry a valid driver's license. It is called "permissive use." 

When does your car insurance not cover other drivers?

If someone takes your vehicle without your consent and gets into an accident, your insurance might not provide coverage. Besides, the coverage may be limited if a driver uses your car regularly and is not listed on your policy. Always check your policy details and talk to your insurance company to know when coverage for other drivers may not apply.

Does my car insurance cover me in another car? 

If you're specifically listed on the car owner's insurance policy, you'll be covered when driving that car, even if it's not yours. The car owner's insurance typically covers damages to the vehicle and third-party liability for bodily injury and property damage.

Your auto insurance might still have a role to play, but as a secondary insurance, to fill in the gaps the car owner's insurance may not cover.

The bottom line

When you purchase car insurance it protects your car against damages from various situations, including accidents, and thefts. If a permissive driver driving your car gets into an at-fault accident your car insurance becomes the primary coverage protecting the vehicle and the driver. However, your policy won’t cover drivers who take your car without your consent or drive your vehicle frequently but aren’t listed on your policy.  

Auto insurance FAQs

What is permissive use? 

Permissive use refers to allowing someone other than the named insured to drive the insured vehicle with consent. If you lend your car to someone with your permission, your insurance coverage typically extends to them while they're driving your vehicle. 

What happens if someone else is driving my car and gets in an accident? 

If someone else is driving your car with your permission and gets in an accident, your car insurance may cover the damages. Check your policy and contact your insurer for specific details on permissive use coverage.

Is it okay to let someone borrow your car?

The decision to let someone borrow your car is up to you, but it's important to weigh the risks, such as their driving record, insurance coverage and the purpose for which they need the car.