If I'm a houseguest and I borrow a car, do I need my own insurance?

Houseguests who borrow their host's car can be covered by their host's policy, but they may need to be listed on the policy.

If I'm a houseguest and I borrow a car, do I need my own insurance?

Having access to your host's car can make a great visit even better, but make sure you and the car are insured before you get behind the wheel.

How do I know if I'm covered by my host's car insurance?

In general, if you visit is short (say less than four weeks), and you don't regularly drive your host's car outside of occasional visits, you should be covered by their policy. That's because car insurance policies provide the same coverage to occasional drivers as they do to the car's owner, most of the time.

There are a couple of caveats, though. You do need to have a valid driving license, you need to have the owner's permission to drive, and, in some states, you can't be drunk or high (which, well, is good life advice for driving...).

If your visit is longer, or you're visiting repeatedly for a shorter periods of time (like one week a month for months), you probably won't be covered by your friend's policy. This is because car insurance policies exclude from coverage anyone who regularly drives a car but isn't listed on the policy. If you think about it, this makes sense. Insurance companies set their prices based on who drives the car, so if you're driving frequently, you need to be on the policy.

What do I do if I'm driving my host's car over a longer period of time?

If your stay is longer than a month, and you'll ever drive your host's car, you really need to be listed on their policy. Your friend can call their insurance agent and get you added. They'll need your license state, number, and expiration date, as well as whether you've had any accidents or driving violations over the past few years.

Adding a driver usually increases the pice of the insurance policy. The price increase won't necessarily reflect what your friend will actually pay, though. The new price reflects adding you as a driver until your friend's policy expires. If your visit ends before the policy expires, your friend should call their agent and remove you from coverage. This should drop the price back to where it was before you were added, and they'll get a credit or refund for any overpayment.

Will buying a non owner auto policy protect me if I'm a houseguest borrowing my friend's car?

If you're a short term guest and you have a non owner policy, it will pay for your liability, which is your financial repsonsibility if you injure someone or damage their car or belongings in a crash.

The caveats are that it will only pay out after the car owner's policy pays, and it will not pay to fix the car you're driving. The car has to be covered on the owner's policy. So, if your friend has low liability limits and you want more protection, a non owner car insurance policy is a good choice so long as your visit is short.

If you're visiting repeatedly or for a longer time, a non owner policy is not the right fit for driving your host's car. Just like regular car insurance policies, non owner policies don't cover cars you drive regularly. Instead, you need to be listed on a regular car insurance policy for that vehicle.

If I have my own car and car insurance, will my policy protect me if I drive my host's car?

Your own car insurance provides some limited protection if you're driving you're friend's car and your stay at their house is short. This is because your own insurance will cover you if you are temporarily driving another vehicle but not if you're regularly using another car.

If you're staying less than four weeks, you likely have coverage, but should ask your insurance agent. If you stay is longer, you really need to be added to your host's car insurance for the length of your visit.

Two things to note, though are that your liability coverage will only pay out after the owner's policy does, and then only if they aren't insured or have lower limits than you do. And your policy won't cover physical damage to the car - that's the responsiblity of the owner to carry on their own policy.

This is general information based on questions our customers ask us. It may not be right for your specific situation. You should get some advice from a licensed insurance agent (like us!) before you make a decision on your own insurance.