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UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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Most car insurance policies follow the vehicle rather than the driver. This means that damage to your vehicle will be covered by the insurance regardless of who is driving the car at the time of an accident. Despite this, it’s always a wise idea to add a driver to your policy if he or she has consistent access to your vehicle. Adding a driver ensures that any possible claims will be covered and also makes the claims process easier.
Generally, you can add anyone that you’d like to your auto insurance policy. Listed drivers do not have to be related to you; they don’t even have to live in the same house. Depending on your needs, you might want to add a neighbor or close family friend to your policy. Generally, anyone who has frequent access to your vehicle should be added as a driver.
Loaning your vehicle to a friend or family member is always risky. Not only could someone cause damage to your vehicle, but any claims caused by that driver would count against your driving record. The owner of a vehicle is responsible for any damage that vehicle might cause, which is why you should always be careful with who you trust your keys to.
Some car insurance companies are especially strict about unlisted drivers. While most policies will cover a vehicle regardless of who’s behind the wheel, some will deny a claim if the driver is not listed on the insurance policy. You should be sure to check with your agent to verify what type of policy you have before you allow anyone but yourself to drive your vehicle. A claim denial could lead to damaged credit and even a suspended license if the damage is substantial.
Roommates and other Household Members
Any time you live with another individual, whether as a domestic partner, relative or roommate, that person will be considered to have access to your vehicle. This means that in the eyes of your insurance, the person you live with must be accounted for on your policy in some way. Generally this means you will either need to include or exclude that person as a driver.
Including your roommate as a driver on your policy allows that person to drive your vehicle and ensures that any accidents he causes will be covered. It also extends first-party medical coverage to your roommate, meaning that his injuries would be covered under your insurance. If your roommate has frequent access to your vehicle, this may be the right choice for you.
Excluding your roommate means that he is never allowed to drive your vehicle. His driving history will not affect your insurance premiums, and any accident he causes with your vehicle would not be covered by your insurance. Because these claims would be denied, it’s imperative not to allow excluded drivers to use your auto. If your roommate is a bad driver, never has access to your vehicle or has a history of DUI convictions or other driving risks, you may want to exclude him from your policy.
What happens when someone is listed on my policy?
Listing an individual on your policy doesn’t just allow that driver’s accidents to be covered. Listed drivers are also able to file claims on your policy and schedule appointments for repairs. The payment will be made in your name, or whoever’s name is listed on the title, but any listed driver can start a claim on your policy without needing your presence. If the vehicle is repaired at an affiliated repair shop that accepts direct payments from the insurance company, the listed driver can have the vehicle repaired without you needing to be involved in the claim at all.
While it can be unnerving to have someone else filing claims against your policy, it can also be valuable in times of emergencies. If you are injured in an accident, a listed driver can file the claim for you and help start the repair process while you recover. If you go on vacation and something happens to your car while you’re away from home, a listed driver can have the damage repaired before you return.
Listed drivers should not be able to change coverage, add or drop vehicles or make any other major changes on your policy. Whenever you add the driver, be sure to discuss with your agent or customer service representative exactly what freedoms the listed driver will have. This way you will not be surprised when the new policy goes into effect.