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When You Need to Buy Non-Owner Car Insurance

by Stephanie Colestock,  Feb 19 2020

If you don’t own a vehicle, you might assume that you don’t need to buy an auto insurance policy. However, if you occasionally borrow friends’ cars, drive rental vehicles, or simply want to avoid a pricey lapse in insurance coverage, you might consider purchasing non-owner car insurance.

Let’s take a look at what this type of policy covers, who should consider buying, and how much you can expect to pay for coverage. 

What is Non-Owner Car Insurance?

As the name implies, non-owner car insurance is designed for those who do not own a vehicle but may occasionally get behind the wheel of someone else’s car, such as borrowing a friend’s vehicle or even renting a car. This coverage is designed to offer additional protection for both the owner and the non-owner driver if an at-fault accident were to occur.

Non-owner insurance can help pay for expenses related to injuries or damages after an accident if you’re driving a vehicle that doesn’t belong to you. It’s important to note, though, that this insurance is a secondary liability product, meaning that you can expect certain limitations on what is and is not covered.

Reasons You May Need Non-Owner Car Insurance

Buying non-owner car insurance can be a wise decision if you don’t own a vehicle but often borrow or rent cars. This type of policy gives you additional liability coverage if you were to get in an accident, and offers added peace of mind to you (and the vehicle’s owner). 

You may also want to consider non-owner car insurance if you won’t own a vehicle for a while but don’t want a gap in your insurance coverage.  

Let’s say you’re taking a job in Europe and won’t need to drive for the next year, so you cancel your current coverage. When you return and are ready to start driving again, you may find that insurance companies are less willing to offer you a policy, or quote you higher rates due to that lapse in coverage. 

Non-owner car insurance can keep you from lapsing while saving you money on a traditional policy.

Lastly, some states may require insurance coverage in order to reinstate a driver’s license that has been suspended, even if you don’t have a car. In this case, non-owner insurance may be your only option for meeting this requirement.

What Non-Owner Car Insurance Covers

As secondary coverage, non-owner car insurance will kick in only after the owner’s policy reaches its coverage limits, or after you’ve exhausted any optional rental car coverage purchased. Then, your non-owner coverage can help cover the difference.

As liability coverage, non-owner car insurance is intended to pay out for bodily injuries and/or property damage sustained by someone else following an accident for which you are at-fault. In some states, non-owner insurance may also provide uninsured motorist or medical payments coverage.

You should also note that non-owner coverage will not cover a vehicle that you own. No matter when you buy that vehicle, you will need to purchase a traditional auto insurance policy in order to be protected. 

Additionally, non-owner insurance is not usually available to those who have a vehicle in the home. If you live with a friend or family member who owns a car that is readily accessible to you, you will need to be added to their policy as an authorized driver instead; non-owner insurance coverage is not typically an option in this case.

What Non-Owner Insurance Doesn’t Cover

Since non-owner car insurance is a liability product, it will not offer comprehensive or collision protection. This means that if you are at-fault for an accident, this liability insurance will not step in to cover your own medical bills, those of your passenger(s), or any damages to the vehicle you were driving.

The exception is if you are in a state that requires non-owner insurance to provide uninsured motorist and/or medical payments coverage. However, this is not common and you will need to read the fine print to see what your specific policy will cover.

How Much Does Non-Owner Car Insurance Cost?

Non-owner auto insurance provides liability-only coverage for vehicles that you only drive on occasion. Because this poses less risk to auto insurance companies, the cost of these policies is typically much lower.

Many factors go into determining your auto insurance premiums, such as your age, location, driving record, and even your credit score. While it’s difficult to say how much you can personally expect to pay for non-owner insurance coverage, you can assume that it will be quite a bit less than buying a traditional auto insurance policy.

How Do I Get Non-Owner Car Insurance?

Buying a non-owner policy can be a bit tricky, as not every insurance company sells it. While issuers such as GEICO, Nationwide, State Farm, USAA, and the General offer these policies, you may have trouble buying coverage with another company. Options will also vary by state.

Your best bet is to first see if your existing insurance company offers non-owner car insurance policies. By bundling coverage with the same company that holds your renters, homeowners, or motorcycle policy, you may facilitate the process while unlocking additional discounts. 

If you don’t own a car but still need to drive on occasion, a non-owner auto insurance policy is worth considering. This type of coverage offers not only secondary liability protection but also peace of mind for you and the vehicle’s owner every time you get behind the wheel.

Non-owner insurance isn’t for everyone, especially if you live in a home with a vehicle owner. However, if non-owner coverage seems right for you, be sure to shop around for the best price before you buy.

Editorial content on Gabi.com is not written by a licensed insurance agent. It is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal or financial advice.

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