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rental car damage and liability insurance

There are several types of car insurance coverages. The main ones are:

  • Liability coverage - covers injury or damage that the driver causes to others
  • Collision coverage - covers damage to your car from colliding with another car or object
  • Comprehensive coverage - covers non-collision damage like weather, theft, vandalism
Coverage TypeWhat it Covers
LiabilityInjury or damage to others
CollisionDamage to your car from collisions
ComprehensiveNon-collision damage to your car
You should ask for a coverage endorsement named “permissive use” coverage, this way you'd be able to lend your friends or family members to use your car

When someone borrows your car, you need to understand how these coverages apply and if they cover any driver.

Does your car insurance cover other drivers?

In most cases, if someone borrows your car with your permission, they will be covered by your car insurance policy. However, there are some important details to understand:

  • Anyone you specifically list on your policy will be fully covered when driving your car. This usually includes family members or others in your household.
  • For drivers not on your policy, coverage can vary:
    • They may receive the same coverage you get under your policy.
    • They may have more limited coverage - for example lower liability limits.
    • In rare cases, your insurer may not cover other drivers at all.
  • Liability coverage will apply to protect other drivers from damage or injuries they cause. But your collision and comprehensive coverage for your car itself may or may not extend to other drivers.

Rental cars are a special case - your personal policy will usually cover you fully when driving a rental, so you don't need to purchase the rental company's insurance.

Some examples of when your insurer might not cover another driver:

  • You specifically excluded them from your policy
  • They drive your car without your permission
  • Your car is used commercially like for ridesharing or delivery services

To summarize, here are some best practices around coverage for other drivers:

  • Check your specific policy - coverages can vary.
  • For regular drivers not on your policy, consider non-owner's insurance.
  • For rental cars, rely on your personal policy without purchasing extras.
  • If you exclude a risky driver, do not let them drive your car.

Requirements for coverage of other drivers

When letting someone else drive your car, there are two key requirements for them to be covered under your car insurance policy:

  1. They must have your permission to use the vehicle
  2. They cannot be specifically excluded from your policy


The other driver must have explicit permission from you to drive your car. This is known as "permissive use" in insurance terms.

  • Permission can be verbal or written. But if an unauthorized friend takes your keys and drives your car without asking, they would likely not be covered.
  • For family members or roommates, permission is implied and virtually automatic.

In a claim situation, the insurer may ask you to demonstrate or verify that you granted permission, so it's helpful to document in some way like text message or email.

Excluded Drivers

Most policies allow you to specifically exclude certain drivers from coverage.

Reasons you may want to exclude a driver:

  • Young driver with little experience
  • Person with past convictions for DUI or reckless driving
  • Adults living in your home who are not on your policy

If an excluded driver operates your vehicle and causes an accident, they will not have liability protection or coverage for damage to your car.

So it's critical that you do not allow an excluded driver to get behind the wheel, even briefly, or coverage may be voided.

Other Requirements

Beyond permission and exclusions, normal policy terms apply:

  • The driver cannot be using your car for commercial purposes like delivering food. Personal use only.
  • They must follow all traffic laws. Coverage does not apply if driving recklessly or under the influence.

As long as those conditions are met, along with permission and no exclusions, your liability, collision, and comprehensive coverage will extend to the other driver up to the limits of your policy.

Liability coverage and other drivers

A key question around insuring other drivers is how your liability coverage applies.

Liability insurance covers injury or property damage that the driver causes to other parties. It's required in most states.

When someone else drives your car, your liability coverage will protect them for any damage or injury they cause to others.

For example:

  • Your friend borrows your car and injures a pedestrian in an accident. Your liability insurance would cover the pedestrian's medical bills.
  • Your sister drives your car and collides with another vehicle. Your liability insurance would pay for repairs to the other driver's car.

However, there are some nuances with liability and other drivers:

  • Dollar limits - Your insurer may limit the payout for other drivers to lower amounts than your own limits. Check your policy.
  • Household members - For regular drivers in your home, it's best to list them on the policy to ensure full liability coverage.
  • Excluded drivers have no liability protection or any other coverage under your policy. Do not let them drive your car.

Collision and comprehensive coverage for other drivers

Beyond liability protection, you also need to consider how your collision and comprehensive coverage applies when others drive your car.

Collision pays to repair damage to your vehicle if you collide with another car or object.

Comprehensive covers non-collision damage from things like weather, fire, theft, vandalism, or hitting an animal.

Here's how these coverages work for additional drivers of your car:

  • Other drivers are generally covered for collision or comprehensive claims, up to the limits of your policy.
  • However, some insurers may restrict or exclude these coverages for non-listed drivers. Check your policy wording.
  • For regular drivers not on your policy, consider adding them as a named insured to ensure full coverage.
  • Never let an excluded driver operate your vehicle, as they would have no coverage at all.

For example:

  • Your friend drives your car and gets in an at-fault accident. Your collision coverage pays to repair your car.
  • Your brother borrows your car and a tree branch falls on it during a storm. Your comprehensive coverage pays for the damage.

Key considerations around collision and comprehensive protection:

  • These coverages follow the car, so claims would be filed under your policy.
  • Your premiums and future rates may rise after claims, even if someone else was driving.
  • Dollar limits or exclusions may restrict coverage for non-listed drivers.

In summary, collision and comprehensive provide protection when others drive your car, but check your policy closely for any limitations. Speak with an agent for guidance on your specific coverages.

Special cases: rental cars

Rental cars are a special situation when it comes to insurance coverage for other drivers.

Unlike with your personal vehicle, your auto insurance will generally follow you - the driver - when you rent a car for personal use. This applies even if you rent the car for someone else to drive.

That means your personal car insurance policy provides primary coverage on a rental car, including:

  • Liability coverage - for injury or damage caused to others
  • Collision coverage - for damage to the rental car in an accident
  • Comprehensive coverage - for damage from weather, theft, vandalism etc.

You do not need to purchase additional insurance from the rental company in most cases.

However, there are some caveats:

  • Your policy may exclude certain types of rental vehicles like luxury cars or large vans. Check ahead of time.
  • If your personal policy only includes liability, consider additional protection for the vehicle itself in case of an accident.
  • Make sure you are an authorized driver under the rental contract. Otherwise, coverage may be voided.
  • Decline the collision damage waiver (CDW) and other optional insurance when renting. Your policy has you covered.

So in summary, key points for rentals:

  • Your personal insurance extends to rental cars in most cases.
  • Other drivers you allow to drive the rental will also be covered.
  • Liability, collision, and comprehensive coverage follow you from your policy.
  • But review any rental car exclusions before declining optional insurance.

Rent with confidence knowing your personal car insurance protects you and other drivers. Contact your agent with any questions about coverage for rental cars.

Primary vs secondary insurance when lending your car

When someone borrows your car, both your insurance policy and theirs can come into play. Yours acts as the primary insurance, while theirs serves as secondary insurance.

Here's how it works:

  • Your insurance pays first, up to the limits of your policy, to cover an accident involving your car. This is the primary coverage.
  • If the damages exceed your coverage limits, the other driver's policy would then kick in to cover the additional costs. This becomes the secondary insurance.

For example:

  • Your liability limit is $50,000. Your friend crashes your car and causes $60,000 in injury damages.
    • Your policy pays the first $50,000 as the primary insurer.
    • Your friend's policy pays the remaining $10,000 as the secondary insurer.

This is known as "stacking" insurance policies to provide full protection in worst case scenarios.

Key Points:

  • Your insurer may initially pay the claim, then seek reimbursement (subrogation) from the at-fault driver's insurance afterwards.
  • For regular drivers, list them on your policy to access their higher limits if needed.
  • Don't lend your car to excluded drivers - they provide no backup insurance.
  • Document permission given for strong evidence in case of issues.

Non-owner's insurance as an option

If you regularly drive vehicles that you don't own, non-owner's insurance can be a great option to protect yourself.

Non-owner's car insurance provides liability, medical payments, and uninsured motorist coverage similar to a standard auto policy - but without insuring a specific vehicle.

It can be ideal for situations like:

  • Frequently borrowing a family member's or friend's car
  • Relying on rideshare services as your main transportation
  • Renting cars often for vacations or business trips

Benefits of non-owner's insurance:

  • Provides vital liability protection if you cause an accident while driving someone else's car
  • Much lower cost than insuring your own vehicle
  • Satisfies state insurance requirements for license and registration
  • Rental car coverage without paying for extras


  • Does not include collision or comprehensive coverage
  • Lower overall policy limits than regular car insurance

Non-owner's insurance is also available as an add-on or endorsement to an existing auto policy for additional flexibility.

Overall, non-owner's insurance delivers essential protections like liability and medical payments when driving but without the cost of covering a vehicle.

It's a great choice for:

  • Young drivers using their parents' cars
  • Drivers with old cars not worth comprehensive/collision coverage
  • Anyone who borrows or rents vehicles frequently

When your insurance won't cover other drivers

While in most cases your car insurance will extend to other drivers if they have your permission, there are some scenarios where your insurer may not provide coverage:

Excluded Drivers

If you specifically exclude a driver from your policy, either by name or description (e.g. "no drivers under 21"), then that person has absolutely no coverage under your policy.

Do not allow excluded drivers to operate your vehicle under any circumstances.

No Permission Given

Your insurer will not cover a driver who takes your keys and drives your car without your knowledge or consent. Permission must always be explicitly given.

Commercial Use

Your personal auto policy will not cover someone who uses your vehicle for commercial purposes like food delivery or transporting passengers (rideshare). Special commercial policies are required.

Serious Policy Violations

Intentionally causing damage, driving under the influence, racing, or other major violations of your policy's terms may void coverage for other drivers.

In these scenarios where your insurer denies coverage, the driver would need to rely on their own policy (if they have one) or else be personally responsible for all damages and liability.

It's critical to understand these limitations and ensure only authorized, covered drivers operate your vehicle.


Whether you are letting someone borrow your car, or driving a vehicle you don't own, it's essential to understand your car insurance coverages and obligations.

  • Review your policy terms closely or consult your agent. Don't assume.
  • Ensure drivers have your permission and are not excluded.
  • For regular use, add drivers to your policy to maximize coverage.
  • Rental cars are covered, just decline unnecessary extras.

If you gather all this information and you apply it, you will know how your auto insurance works for you and others driving your car will prevent any nasty surprises when you file an accident or claim.

Your agent can provide guidance on your optimal liability, collision and comprehensive coverages for all possible driving scenarios. Don't hesitate to ask them!

Other readers were also interested in the following posts:

Does Comprehensive Car Insurance Cover Water Damage?  

Does Comprehensive Car Insurance Cover Rodent Damage?  

Does My Comprehensive Car Insurance Cover Me to Drive Another Car?

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