Can You Drive Someone Else’s Car?

Driving someone else’s car is legal, as long as that car’s insured. Uninsured vehicles are illegal for anyone to drive on public roads.
Written by Liz Jenson
Edited by Kianna Walpole
Reviewed by Sarah Gray
Generally, you can drive someone else’s car if you have their permission, you’re not using the vehicle for business purposes, and you’re not listed as an excluded driver on their
auto insurance policy
However, specific permissions and coverages can vary by state and provider.
Most drivers who aren’t listed on a car insurance policy can still use a vehicle as long as they have the owner’s permission. This is known as “permissive use.” 
Put simply, permissive use assumes that whomever is behind the wheel of a motor vehicle has permission to be there. It also protects car owners in case the person driving their car absolutely does not have permission—for example if your vehicle is stolen or someone takes your car without your consent, it’s considered non-permissive use, and you will not be held liable for any damages they cause if they’re in an auto accident.
There are two ways to obtain permission to drive someone else’s car:
Express permission: This occurs when the owner of the car gives you direct, clear consent to use their vehicle, such as by handing you the keys.
Implied permission: This occurs when you assume you’re allowed to drive someone’s car, perhaps because you’ve been allowed to in the past.
Keep in mind: Policies and state laws vary, so be sure the vehicle owner checks their auto insurance coverage details regarding permissive use before you drive away in their car.
If any of the following situations apply, you may not be insured and it might even be illegal to drive another person’s car. Here are a few reasons a driver may not be covered by a car owner’s policy:
They’re listed as an excluded driver on your policy. You may exclude a driver from your auto insurance policy because they don’t have a license or because they have violations on their driving record.
They are not a licensed driver. If an unlicensed driver borrows your car and gets into an accident, your car insurance may not cover the damages.
They don’t have your permission to drive. If someone steals your car (or borrows it without either express or implied permission) and they crash, your car insurance policy may not cover the damages that they’re responsible for. That said, if you have
comprehensive coverage
, your own vehicle will be covered from damages due to theft or vandalism.
They’re under the influence. Your insurance provider may deny coverage if someone crashes your car while they were
under the influence of drugs or alcohol
They should have been listed on your policy and weren’t. In some states, you’re required to add any relatives who live with you to your car insurance policy. You may also be required to add someone to your policy if they drive your car regularly.
They paid to use your car. If you use a car-sharing service like Turo where you rent your car to other people, your insurance coverage likely won’t apply. You would need a peer-to-peer rental car policy, which you can typically purchase from the company you rent your car through.
They work for you. Your car insurance policy may exclude household employees who use your car as part of their job, like if your nanny picks up your kids from school.
They’re using your car for business purposes. Business use is a standard exclusion on most car insurance policies. If you or someone else will be using your car for work, including using your vehicle for ride-sharing or most delivery services, you likely need a separate
commercial car insurance policy

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Do you need car insurance to drive someone else’s car?

If you have permission to drive a car and you get into a car accident, the car owner’s insurance will act as the primary insurance policy for any damages that you caused.1 That means it will pay out first, and any other applicable policies (like your own car insurance) will be considered excess or secondary coverage, paying for damages that exceed the owner’s policy limits.
Here’s what the car owner’s car insurance policy should cover.
Liability insurance
: The owner’s state-mandated liability coverage should pay for property damage and personal injury claims filed by the other driver up to the owner’s policy limits.
Collision insurance
: Collision coverage is optional, but if the owner has added it to their policy, it will pay to repair or replace their car after an accident, regardless of who was at fault. A
will typically apply.
There are a few types of coverage that may not apply to unlisted drivers. For instance, if the car owner has
medical payments coverage (MedPay)
personal injury protection (PIP)
, it will typically follow them if they drive someone else’s car, but it won’t cover you when driving theirs. 
Note that if your policy includes
full coverage
options like collision insurance and comprehensive insurance they likely won’t apply if you’re driving someone else’s car. It will all depend on the details of your policy’s coverage.

Borrowing a car as an uninsured motorist

If you’re uninsured and you borrow a car, you’ll likely still be covered by the vehicle-owner’s policy. However, any property damages or medical expenses that surpass their coverage limits will be your financial responsibility. 
This can be a risky gamble for everyone involved, as the owner’s insurance will be responsible for large payouts and you will be responsible for any expenses past the owner’s coverage limits. 
Driving a car when you’re not listed as a covered driver can be a tricky situation. That’s why
experts put together everything you need to know to do it legally and safely.
Instead of driving a car without insurance, it’s a good idea for borrowers to invest in
non-owner car insurance
. This keeps drivers protected in an accident even if they don’t own their own vehicle.

Being added as a covered driver may be a better option

If you frequently borrow the same car from the same driver, you have two options: you can look into purchasing a
non-owners policy
, or have the main driver add you as a named driver on their policy. Here's how much listing an additional driver on your policy may increase insurance rates:
Number of drivers
Average annual cost
One driver
Two drivers
$2,545 (+33%)
Three drivers 
$2,687 (+44%)
Four drivers
$3,042 (+59%)

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Regularly using a car for which you’re not a listed driver could lead to complications with the owner's insurance company—especially if you get into an accident.
That’s why most insurance providers require policyholders to include immediate family members, spouses, and other household members on their insurance policy. You can also choose to list friends, family, or anyone else who is likely to use your car.
Keep in mind, the more drivers are listed on a policy, the more that policy will cost. Jerry has gathered average costs for policies with 1-4 drivers from several top car insurance companies to help you budget.
One driver
Two drivers
Three drivers
Four drivers
Be mindful of who you add to your policy: Adding
drivers with a history of accidents, traffic violations, insurance lapses, or poor credit could increase your insurance premiums. 
Find out how much you could save by adding a driver to your policy with Jerry.
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Will my car insurance go up if someone else gets into an accident in my car?

If a claim is filed on your car insurance, your premiums will likely go up, regardless of who was driving. This applies whether the claim is filed against your liability insurance by another driver or for damages to your own car on your collision coverage.

Will my insurance cover me if I drive my friend’s car?

Typically if you drive a friend’s car, their insurance will be the primary policy if you get into an accident. However, if you cause damages that exceed the car owner’s policy limits, or if you need to file a medical payments claim, you might use your own insurance.

Can my friend drive my car?

If your friend has your permission to drive and has a valid license, it’s typically fine for them to borrow your car occasionally. That said, if they use your car regularly, they’ll need to be added to your policy.

Do you need insurance to drive someone else’s car?

Almost every state requires vehicles to be covered by a valid car insurance policy, but as long as the vehicle owner has insurance in place, you typically won’t need a separate policy.

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

As long as the person had a valid license and your permission to drive, your car insurance coverage will likely pay for any damages caused by the driver of your car. However, damages to your car won’t be covered unless you have collision insurance.

What if someone borrows my car and gets in an accident that’s not their fault?

The at-fault driver (or their insurance company) will be responsible for any bodily injury or property damage that they caused, although your insurance may help pay for any damages that their policy doesn’t cover.

Will my car insurance cover other drivers who don’t have a license?

In the event of an accident, your car insurance will typically not cover anyone who is driving without a valid driver’s license.

Meet our experts

Liz Jenson
Liz Jenson is an insurance writer who specializes in general automotive and insurance topics. Liz’s mission is to produce informative and useful content to help car owners make smart choices when buying cars and car insurance. Since joining Jerry in 2021, Liz has written nearly 4,000 long- and short-form articles on topics including state-specific insurance recommendations, common car insurance questions, and deep dives into vehicle model details.
Before they came to Jerry, Liz was a full-time student at Indiana University, Bloomington working on a double major in English and French.
Kianna Walpole
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Expert Insurance Writer & Editor
Kianna Walpole is an insurance writer and editor with a comprehensive background in consumer behavior and online publishing. With experience in car insurance, maintenance, and repair, she is dedicated to building informative content that helps customers reduce costs while achieving the best service. Prior to joining the Jerry editorial team, Kianna worked as a junior editor in the content marketing industry, using consumer data and key insights to create and edit content for an array of large-scale clients in the real estate, cybersecurity, and healthcare industries.
Sarah Gray
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Licensed Insurance Agent — Expert Insurance Writer and Editor
Sarah Gray is an insurance writer with nearly a decade of experience in publishing and writing. Sarah specializes in writing articles that educate car owners and buyers on the full scope of car ownership—from shopping for and buying a new car to scrapping one that’s breathed its last and everything in between. Sarah has authored over 1,500 articles for Jerry on topics ranging from first-time buyer programs to how to get a salvage title for a totaled car.
Prior to joining Jerry, Sarah was a full-time professor of English literature and composition with multiple academic writing publications.

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