Gianetta Palmer is a writer for CarInsurance101.com, copywriter, and essayist. Her work has appeared in EverydayHealth.com, Healthline, and The Dyrt Magazine. She is the author of Scrunchie-Fried and writes a lot about car insurance in her spare time.

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Melanie Musson is the fourth generation in her family to work in the insurance industry. She grew up with insurance talk as part of her everyday conversation and has studied to gain an in-depth knowledge of state-specific car insurance laws and dynamics as well as a broad understanding of how insurance fits into every person’s life, from budgets to coverage levels. She also specializes in automa...

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Reviewed by Melanie Musson
Published Insurance Expert

UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020

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If you have teenagers or adult children living in your home, they will have access to your vehicles. If your child or stepchild drives your vehicle and is involved in an accident, would the claim be covered by insurance? What does it mean to add a driver to your policy? Who can be added to a policy? In order to make the best choices for your family’s needs, you need to understand how your policy works and how coverage will be assigned to you and your family members.

Who is covered under a car insurance policy?

Most auto insurance policies follow the vehicle rather than the driver. This means that no matter who is driving a vehicle, any damage caused by an accident will be covered by the vehicle’s auto policy. Some car insurance companies, however, require that a driver be listed by name on the policy as a permissive-use driver in order for a claim to be covered.

If you’re not sure which type of policy you have, you should contact your agent or customer service representative to clarify how your policy transfers to members of your household. They should be able to advise you as to whether any adult children or stepchildren in your home are covered under your policy without being added as drivers.

Why add a driver to your policy?

Even if your family members are included as permissive use drivers under your insurance, you may still want to add them as listed drivers on the policy. Including them on the policy enables them to have more freedom in dealing with your insurance company. For example, if they are in an accident they can file the claim directly with the insurance without you needing to call and give permission; they can also schedule inspection appointments and arrange to have the vehicle repaired. If they are not listed on the policy, your insurance company will not allow them to do any of this without your express verbal permission each time they call.

It’s also important to have at least one other person added to your policy in the event of an emergency. If something were to happen to you, a family member could handle any necessary changes that needed to be made on your insurance policy if that person is listed as a driver. If he is not listed, he would need a power of attorney in order to handle your claim or make any changes to your policy.

Even if everyone in your home is considered to be a permissive use driver, most insurance companies would prefer if you listed all drivers by name on the policy. This enables them to know who has access to the vehicles in the house so that they can charge the correct premium.

How to add additional drivers to your policy?

You can add nearly anyone to your policy if you have a relationship with them. Depending on state law, you may need to be related by the individual by blood or marriage. This means that you may not be able to add your roommate or friend to your policy, but you should be able to add your children, stepchildren, domestic partner or other resident relative to the policy.

In order to insure a vehicle, you need to be the registered owner on the car. If the vehicle belongs to your stepson and is registered in his name, he will need to obtain his own insurance policy. Otherwise, it doesn’t matter who you add to your policy; if you own the vehicle, you should have the ability to decide who is allowed to drive it under the insurance.

If you have any questions about your insurance policy, you should be sure to contact your insurance company’s customer service department or call your agent. Your agent will be able to discuss the specific state laws that apply to your policy and can help guide you as to what the best choice is for your family’s needs. Whether you add your stepchildren and other family members as drivers on your policy or encourage them to obtain their own policies, knowing exactly how the insurance applies to everyone in your household can protect you from unpleasant surprises in the event of a claim.