Chelsey Tucker graduated with a Bachelor of History degree from Metropolitan State University in 2019. She now writes about insurance with her specialty being life insurance and has been quoted on Help Smart Phone and MEL Magazine.

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent Daniel Walker

UPDATED: Apr 2, 2022

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Here's what you need to know...

  • Most traditional auto insurance follows the vehicle, not the individual
  • Your car insurance policy does not normally follow you from one car to another car
  • There are situations where your auto policy may provide coverage to a rented vehicle
  • Also, there is non-owner car insurance, which provides coverage when driving a non-owned car
  • When there is an accident, your provider may be willing to extend some of your policy coverage to a non-owned vehicle

Your car insurance policy is specifically designed to provide financial protection if you’re in an accident. If you have liability coverage, this covers the damage you might do to other parties’ cars or their medical bills. If your auto insurance policy has collision and comprehensive coverage, it would cover damage to your car. Your policy is designed to provide protection to the vehicle itself, not necessarily the policyholder.

If you are concerned about driving someone else’s car, speak to that car’s owner to confirm their coverage, and speak to your insurance provider as well. You can carry your own policy, which is most effective if you drive the same non-owned car regularly or rent cars. But the insurance rates are generally just for liability coverage.

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What does your car insurance cover?

Most personal auto policies are designed to cover the vehicle in question, not necessarily the policyholder. What this means is that your policy may not follow you in any car you drive. But it does follow licensed drivers you authorize to drive your car.

Instead, the car insurance for that vehicle will primarily be providing protection anytime you are behind the wheel. There are exceptions to this, which can be discussed with your insurance provider.

If you borrow someone’s car, you will want to make sure they have active insurance to the state required minimums on their vehicle. Additionally, if you allow someone to borrow your vehicle, you would want to provide them with the same information.

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Does your car insurance ever cover someone else’s car?

While there are many situations where your personal auto policy will be taking a secondary role to any primary insurance carried on a borrowed vehicle, there are a few exceptions.

First, your policy may provide protection if you are driving a rental. Rental cars are often used in situations when you do not have access to your everyday vehicle, and insurance providers may be willing to provide coverage to that  vehicle. The coverage provided will not exceed your policy’s limits, however, which may not satisfy the rental agency. Sometimes, rental car companies will offer extra coverage at a flat rate per day. It’s the same for everybody. So your driving record is not a factor.  It can be expensive, though, which is part of why many drivers prefer to rely on their own coverage.

Additionally, your insurance provider may offer non-owner auto insurance, which is a personal auto policy that provides liability protection without offering physical damage coverage.

This policy typically provides liability coverage even in situations when you borrow or rent a vehicle.

Non-owner auto coverage may provide coverage in other situations, such as when an at-fault driver is underinsured or uninsured or when there are medical bills due to an accident. On top of this, a non-owner policy may provide liability limits as a supplement to any primary auto insurance on a borrowed or rented vehicle.

Finally, your provider may extend coverage from your policy due to an accident situation. This coverage is not guaranteed, and your provider may have stipulations on the coverage provided or when your policy terms will take effect. Especially if you’re concerned about collision coverage, you should make sure you know exactly what your current policy says.

For example, in a situation where the primary coverage limits have been exceeded, your policy may offer supplemental assistance; providing coverage only when the primary policy’s limits have been exceeded.

These coverage situations may vary based on your provider and the terms outlined in your policy. If this type of coverage is important to you, make sure to speak to several providers. Some providers may offer services that others don’t. So receiving multiple quotes will help you narrow down options.

What should you do before driving someone else’s car?

If you are borrowing someone’s car, one of the first things to do is confirm the car’s owner has active, state-required insurance, which includes verifying that you have a copy of the insurance card in the vehicle, as well as getting any contact information you may need in the event of an accident. If your friend or family member is loaning you a car, they are putting some degree of trust in you as their insurance would go up if anything happened while you were driving. Their policy limits apply whether you borrow the car one time or once a week.

Next, you should contact your insurance provider to ask about your policy coverage when driving a borrowed, rented, or non-owned vehicle. This will give you the chance to ask about your policy providing coverage in the event you are pulled over or if there is an accident.

Finally, you should affirm that you have permission to use the non-owned vehicle, which includes confirming that your state allows coverage to extend to a non-listed driver.

In some situations, insurance coverage will not extend or cover a driver that is using a non-owned vehicle without the permission of the vehicle’s owner.

Insurance Follows the Car

Your car insurance normally followed the vehicle you have assigned it to, meaning your policy may not provide coverage to you someone else’s car. There are exceptions to this rule, but these vary based on the insurance provider or any state laws or regulations.

If you have questions about the coverage provided by your policy, speak with your insurance provider. They can explain the coverage listed in your policy terms, as well as any state laws or regulations that may stop your coverage from extending to a borrowed, rented, or non-owned car.

Additionally, your state has a Department of Insurance, which can provide you with information about state-specific exceptions you need to watch out for.

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