Adding a driver to your car insurance policy can be a wise decision in many situations. However, it’s important to understand how this will impact your coverage, rates, and liability before making the change. This comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know about adding a driver to your auto insurance.
Why You May Want to Add a Driver
There are a few common reasons you may need or want to add another driver to your policy:
Allowing Occasional Use of Your Vehicles
If you want to let a friend, family member, or other individual drive your car occasionally, adding them as a driver on your policy will extend your coverage to protect them legally when operating your vehicle. This is especially important for young drivers who may need to borrow a car but don’t have their own policy.
Coverage for Household Members
If you live with a partner, spouse, children, roommate, or other household member who drives your vehicles, they likely need to be added as a driver on your policy. Auto insurance follows the car, so whoever is driving your insured vehicle needs to be named for complete protection.
Lower Rates for Young Drivers
Insurance rates are significantly higher for teen drivers and young adults. By adding them as a driver under your policy rather than taking out a separate policy, you can often reduce costs thanks to your longer driving record and broader policy discounts.
Shared Use of a Vehicle
For multi-vehicle households, it often makes sense to have one comprehensive policy covering all residents who drive the various cars. This can be more convenient and cost-effective than maintaining separate policies.
How Adding a Driver Impacts Your Policy
When you ask your insurer to add another driver to your policy, there are a few important effects on your coverage to consider:
Your Rates May Increase
Adding a driver means more overall risk exposure for your insurer. They are accepting higher liability in the event this new driver causes an accident while operating your vehicle. As a result, your premiums will likely go up after including the new driver. However, it may still be more affordable than taking out an entirely separate policy.
All Vehicles Will Be Covered
The new driver will be insured to operate any vehicle listed on your policy, not just one assigned car. So be sure you’re comfortable with them driving your other vehicles before adding them.
Young Drivers Impact Rates
Insurers classify drivers by age and driving experience, so premium increases will be highest for teen drivers and young adults. However, this is often still cheaper than getting a separate policy.
Your Insurer May Adjust Coverage
To help offset increased risk, your insurer may lower or restrict certain coverage – like collision and comprehensive – for the new driver. They may also require that driver to take a defensive driving course for additional protection.
Your Liability May Increase
Many policies extend liability coverage to accidents caused by anyone driving the insured vehicles with permission. So you could be liable for damages if the new driver gets into an accident. Be sure to discuss liability with your insurer when adding a new driver.
Steps for Adding a New Driver
The process for adding a driver to your policy is relatively straightforward. Here are the typical steps:
Inform Your Insurance Company
Contact your insurance provider and explain you need to add a driver to your existing policy. Provide their name, birthdate, driver’s license number, and any other requested information.
Review New Quotes and Coverage
Your insurer will provide updated premium quotes and coverage options. Compare new plans and rates carefully to find the optimal balance of affordability and protection.
Complete Any Required Applications or Forms
Some insurance companies require new drivers to complete a formal application or exclusion forms. Be prepared to submit these documents for the new driver.
Pay Any Additional Premiums
If your new rates represent an increase from your current premium, you’ll need to pay the difference in order to officially activate the change. This can often be paid conveniently online or via auto-payments.
Confirm the Change is Active
Once you’ve completed any requirements and paid any additional premiums, follow up with your insurance company to confirm the new driver has been added to your policy. Also request an updated insurance card and other documentation for your records.
Who You Can and Can’t Add to Your Policy
Insurers have rules and restrictions regarding who can be added as a driver to an existing auto insurance policy. Here are some key limitations:
Spouses and Partners
Spouses or domestic partners living in the same household will need to be named on the same policy to be fully covered.
Roommates and Housemates
You generally can’t add a roommate or housemate if they are not related to you. The exception is if they are also on the car’s title and registration.
Children and Relatives
You can add children, including stepchildren or foster children, to your policy at any age. Other younger relatives who live with you full time can typically be added as well.
Due to liability concerns, most insurers will not allow you to add non-relative friends or associates to your policy. They will need to take out their own policy.
Suspended or Unlicensed Drivers
Anyone who is suspended, revoked, or does not have a valid driver’s license cannot be insured under your policy. Make sure new drivers have an active, valid license.
Overall, auto insurance is tied to your household and the people who regularly use your insured vehicles. Contact your insurance provider to understand their specific requirements before making any changes.
Tips for Adding New Drivers Affordably
Adding drivers often increases your premiums, but there are ways to keep costs down:
- Only add drivers who truly need regular access to your vehicles to avoid unnecessary rate hikes
- Consider raising your deductibles to help offset the price of additional drivers
- Ask about discounts for students with good grades or drivers who complete defensive driving courses
- Limit coverage for certain drivers (like excluding comprehensive and collision for an infrequent user)
- Have the new driver take out their own non-owner policy for liability coverage if costs are too high
- Shop around with multiple insurers and compare quotes to find the most competitive pricing
Frequently Asked Questions about Adding Drivers
How long does it take for a new driver to be added to a policy?
After submitting all required documentation, a new driver can generally be added to your policy within 1-3 business days. Confirm with your insurance company about when the change will take effect.
Can I add a new driver who lives at a different address?
Most insurers will not allow you to add drivers who live at a different residence. The main exceptions are children temporarily away at school or a non-resident spouse or partner.
If I remove a driver later, will my rates go back down?
Yes, removing drivers from your policy who are no longer regular operators of your vehicles can help reduce your premiums back down over time.
Is there a limit to how many drivers I can add to my policy?
There is typically no strict limit, but adding too many drivers can make your policy excessively expensive. Most experts recommend limiting drivers to those who truly need regular access.
Can I add someone who only drives my car occasionally?
You generally cannot add a casual, occasional driver to your policy. They can either take out a non-owner auto liability policy or rent a car and rely on the rental’s insurance when necessary.
Adding drivers to your auto insurance policy opens up your existing coverage to protect them when driving your vehicles. However, it also increases your insurer’s risk and liability, often resulting in higher premiums. Be sure to weigh the costs and benefits when deciding whether to add a regular driver. Carefully review any coverage changes, limitations, or exclusions that could apply to the new driver as well. With an informed decision and proper planning, you can successfully expand your protection.