Non-Owner Car Insurance: What It Is And Who Needs It

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Non-owner car insurance is beneficial for individuals who drive vehicles that they don’t own. Whether you’re renting or borrowing a car, a non-owners insurance policy would pay for injuries and damage in the case of an accident. Simply put, this type of car insurance protects you when you’re driving a vehicle you do not own.

This can be because you drive a car for work, borrow a car regularly or are mandated by the courts to carry the extra coverage. Non-owner car insurance supplements the car insurance that is already on the vehicle, providing extra coverage in case of a crash or other automotive accident.

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The average cost of a non-owners policy is $474. This rate is much lower than that of a standard car insurance policy, which makes it a beneficial investment for those who need it. Plus, non-owners insurance will count as continuous coverage, so you won’t be penalized with a higher premium if you decide to get your own vehicle again.

Several companies offer non-owner car insurance policies nationwide, including Geico, State Farm, Nationwide and the General. Fortunately, this makes shopping around for the best price fairly simple: You just need to call each provider to request a quote, since non-owner car insurance quotes are not typically available online.

What does non-owner car insurance cover?

A non-owner car insurance policy, sometimes also called non-drivers insurance, usually only provides minimum coverage. Typically, these policies include bodily injury and property damage liability coverage when you’re driving a vehicle that you don’t own (and would otherwise have a regular car insurance policy on). There’s typically no deductible when you make a claim.

If you borrow someone’s car and are involved in an accident, the vehicle owner’s car insurance pays out first. If it’s not enough to cover damages, your non-owner policy will kick in as secondary coverage. That said, non-owner’s insurance doesn’t include collision coverage. So it won’t cover repairs to the vehicle, only the vehicle or piece of property you hit.

If you cause an accident and the other person is injured, bodily injury liability insurance will help cover his or her medical expenses and lost wages. It will also cover some of your legal fees if you’re taken to court. Similarly, property damage liability insurance helps you pay for damage to someone’s vehicle or property if you were at fault for the accident. Some insurers, but not all, also offer medical payments coverage and uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage. In either case, there is generally no deductible when you make a claim.

Optional coverages normally associated with car insurance, like collision, comprehensive, towing, and rental reimbursement, are not available through non-owner policies. Again, this is because there’s no specific vehicle for the policy to insure.

However, some providers also offer medical payments and uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage as part of their non-owner car insurance policies. If you want this type of coverage, be sure to ask about it when requesting quotes.

Some non-owner policies will also provide liability coverage for rental vehicles. Read the fine print on your non-owner policy if you intend to use it for rental cars, and make sure it actually covers you when you’re driving one.

If you don’t rent cars often, it’s cheaper to use your complimentary credit card rental car insurance or purchase rental car insurance through the car-rental agency.

When do you need non-owner car insurance?

If you don’t own a vehicle, you’re typically not legally required to have a non-owner car insurance policy. There are, however, some situations when it’s a good idea to apply for coverage.

  • You rent cars regularly: If you rent cars frequently for travel or other reasons, a non-owner policy that offers liability coverage on rental vehicles can be a cost-effective option. That said, you might also want to purchase rental car insurance through your credit card or the car-rental company.
  • You borrow cars regularly: If you’re a caregiver or work with someone whose vehicle you often use, having non-owner insurance to supplement their personal policy if you get in an accident. However, if you are borrowing a car from someone in your household, you should be listed on their policy –– not on a non-owner policy.
  • You use a car-sharing service: If you’re enrolled in a car-sharing service like Car2Go, Zipcar, or Maven, you’ll typically get some liability and damage coverage as part of your membership. But check the fine print to find out how much protection you have. In some cases, it might be wise to get some additional coverage.
  • You’re without a car temporarily: If you’re selling your car but plan to buy a new one in the near future, it’s usually a good idea to get non-owners insurance to prevent a lapse in insurance coverage. Otherwise, you may end up paying a higher rate for regular insurance when you get a new car.
  • You’re required by a court: If you’ve committed serious traffic violations, a court may require you to file a proof-of-insurance certificate to maintain your driver’s license, even if you don’t own a car. Specifically, this can happen if you’ve been convicted of a DUI, caused an accident as an uninsured driver or been ticketed for reckless driving. If this happens, you may need non-owner SR-22 insurance (or FR-22 insurance if you live in Florida and Virginia).

How to buy non-owner car insurance

Not all companies offer non-owner car insurance, so make sure to take a look at the table below to find providers that provide these policies. Typically, non-owner insurance quotes aren’t available online, so you’ll need to call the companies directly to get an estimate.

Before you call, you’ll need to have your vehicle and personal information in order, including your driver’s license number and state of issue and driving history (prior tickets, accident history, and license suspension information). Have a credit or debit card ready too.

2020 Best Non-Owner Car Insurance Companies

Company Phone Number
Geico (800) 207-7847
State Farm (800) 782-8332
Nationwide (877) 669-6877
The General (844) 328-0306

Each of these companies offers non-owner car insurance plans in all 50 states, and Geico, State Farm, and Nationwide are known for their quality customer service in some regions, according to J.D. Power.

If you already have another insurance policy through Geico, such as homeowners or renters insurance, you can qualify for a bundling discount on your non-owner auto insurance policy. No other provider offers this discount.

Also, when I called to ask for quotes, Geico had the easiest phone tree to navigate and had me speaking with a friendly, helpful person the fastest.

When is non-owner car insurance unnecessary?

If you’re still not sure if your situation merits non-owners insurance, here are some situations where it’s clear that you don’t need it.

  • The car you drive has sufficient insurance: Whether you use a family member’s or friend’s car or a car-sharing service, a non-owners insurance policy provides secondary coverage. This means that you typically don’t need it if the coverage on the car you’re driving is robust. Check with the car’s owner or the contract on your car-sharing service to find out how much coverage it has and determine whether it needs more when you’re behind the wheel.
  • You don’t rent cars often: If you rent cars irregularly, the coverage offered through your credit card or the car rental company may be cheaper than having a policy with a monthly premium.
  • You own a car: If you own your car, it goes without saying that non-owners insurance isn’t the right coverage for your needs. Instead, you’ll want to get a standard car insurance policy, which provides more comprehensive protection.

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Non-owner car insurance rates

Non-owner car insurance premiums are significantly lower than those for regular car insurance. A non-owner car insurance policy will cost you roughly $474 a year on average.

With a traditional car insurance policy, a primary factor that determines how much you pay in premiums is the value of the car being insured. For example, a $200,000 sports car costs a lot more to insure than an $18,000 minivan.

With non-owner car insurance, however, there’s no car to insure, so you are the main factor that determines the rate. Specifically, insurance companies will look at how likely it is that you’ll cause an accident. They do this by checking your driving record and your credit-based insurance score. Other factors are also assessed, such as your age, marital status and where you live.

With an average non-owner insurance policy costing $1,090 annually, New Jersey is the most expensive state to take out one of these policies. On the other hand, Wisconsin has the cheapest rates, at an average of $171.

Someone who has a clean driving record and excellent credit is going to get a lower rate than someone with a lot of citations, accidents, and less-than-perfect credit. Don’t take this personally – just clean up your credit and keep a clean driving record, and you’ll be able to get a lower rate over time. Where you live also determines how much your non-owner car insurance will cost.

Frequently asked questions about non-owner car insurance

Can I rent a car with non-owners insurance?

Yes, non-owners insurance provides coverage if you rent a car and is a good idea if you regularly rent vehicles. Many credit cards also include coverage if you use them to book your rental car.

Should I get non-owner car insurance if I’m borrowing a car long term?

If you’re planning on borrowing a car for an extended period of time, you should ask the owner to add you to their policy, rather than taking out non-owner car insurance.

What is non-owners SR-22 insurance?

If you have a driving offense on your record, like a DUI or a suspended license, you may need to file an SR-22. This document isn’t an insurance policy, but it is issued by your insurance company and indicates to the state that you are carrying an appropriate form of car insurance.

Is a non-owners policy available in my state?

Yes, non-owners policies are available in every state in the US. Depending on where you live, the rate will vary, but most policies include the same type of coverage. You might also need to file an SR-22 depending on the reason you need a non-owners policy and the laws in your state.

The Bottom Line on Non-Owners Insurance

Whether you’re renting a car or looking to avoid a gap in your insurance history, it’s helpful to purchase non-owner car insurance when required to protect yourself in the event of an accident.

Not all providers offer non-owner insurance. If you’re looking to purchase this policy, compare quotes from Geico, State Farm, Nationwide and The General. In addition to comparing rates, also look at the provided coverage to get the policy that will give you the most value. Then be sure to shop around every year or so to make sure you still have the best rate available.

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