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UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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Whether or not your girlfriend is covered under your car insurance is a tricky situation that depends heavily on your current circumstances. In some cases she will be, in other cases she won’t. It is understood you’ll have to contact your car insurance company and ask them to be sure. They’ll have a bunch of questions of their own, all of which will play into whether your girlfriend is covered.
The nature of car insurance dictates that it covers both vehicles and drivers. Yet how much of the coverage applies to each one is not set in stone. As there is so much variation between state laws and insurance company policies, there’s no definitive way to say for sure that your girlfriend would be covered under all circumstances in all states. Nonetheless, there are some common guidelines in the following paragraphs.
Is my girlfriend covered if she lives with me?
Perhaps you remember when you first purchased your policy having to answer question about all of the adult drivers living in your household. If not, this standard question is asked whenever someone buys a new policy.
Auto insurance companies ask this question because most states require them to cover any use of an insured vehicle by all licensed adults living in the same house. The assumption is that all of those drivers will have access to the vehicle and will use it at one time or another.
If your girlfriend lives with you when you purchase a new policy, you are expected to disclose to the insurance company your living arrangements. In that case, she will be covered, but she will have to be added to the policy as a second qualified driver. Her driving history will be investigated and your premiums will be adjusted accordingly. As long as you are upfront and honest about your living arrangements, you have nothing to worry about.
Is my girlfriend covered if she moves in after I’ve already purchased a policy?
Changing your living arrangements when a car insurance policy is already in force is one of the easiest ways to get yourself in trouble with your carrier. If your girlfriend moves in after you purchase the policy, you are expected to contact your insurance company to inform them of the new living arrangements.
Car insurance companies will do a search on her driving history and adjust your premiums accordingly. Once added, she will be covered just the same way a spouse would be.
On the other hand, if you fail to inform the insurance company that your girlfriend has moved in, and she has an accident while driving your car, you could be in for some trouble. Consider the fact that she will have to list her address on the accident report and any insurance forms that are filled out. Your insurance company will notice her address is identical to yours, and question you as to why you did not inform them of your living arrangements. In most states, that is legal justification for your insurance company to refuse your claim.
Does it matter if my girlfriend has her own car?
If your girlfriend has her own car and she maintains her own insurance policy, you do not need to do anything. She would be considered a casual driver of your vehicle if she ever drove it. In most states, even if she had an accident in your car, she would still be covered under her own policy.
Likewise, the same would apply to you if you drove her car. Keeping separate cars and separate insurance policies is one of the best ways to avoid any confusion with your insurance company.
If you would prefer to have her added to your policy rather than continuing to carry her own, that’s also possible. But you’ll have to contact your car insurance company and have her added before she contacts her company to cancel her policy. This way, insurance is always in force and there’s never a question from the state about whether your girlfriend really did have car insurance. If you need help making this kind of switch, your carrier can walk you through the process.
What if my girlfriend does not live with me?
In the most states, you are only allowed to include licensed adults who live with you or adult children who are away at college or some other short-term circumstance on your policy. Therefore, if your girlfriend doesn’t live with you, she’ll have to have her own policy for her own car. That being said, if she drives your car she will most likely be covered as a casual driver. State law differs in this area so you’ll have to check with your insurance company to be sure.
For example, some states treat casual drivers very liberally, expecting insurance companies to cover them under all circumstances. In other states, casual drivers are only covered if they are using your vehicle to do something on your behalf. An example of this would be having your girlfriend drive your car to pick up your son or daughter from piano lessons.
Because car insurance can be a somewhat complex thing, it’s best not to take any chances when letting other people drive your vehicle. If you’re ever unsure about whether your girlfriend, or anyone else for that matter, is covered under your policy, you should contact your insurance company and ask them. Even if it results in slightly higher premiums, you are better off safe than sorry.