October 18, 2021

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What is non-owner car insurance?

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MarketWatch has highlighted these products and services because we think readers will find them useful. This content is independent of the MarketWatch newsroom and we may receive a commission if you buy products through links in this article.

It’s possible to purchase an auto insurance policy without owning a car. Non-owner car insurance works like liability coverage that is connected to an individual driver rather than a specific vehicle.

Keep reading to learn more about non-owner car insurance, including what is covered, how much these policies typically cost and recommendations for the best car insurance companies that sell non-owner auto insurance. You can start comparing free quotes from several top providers in your area using the tool below.

In this article:

  • What does non-owner car insurance cover?
  • How much does non-owner car insurance cost?
  • Do you need non-owner insurance?
  • Our recommendations for non-owner car insurance
  • Our methodology
What does non-owner car insurance cover?

Non-owner car insurance is similar to liability car insurance. This means that it pays the cost of damages after an accident that you cause. This includes:

  • Bodily injury liability: Covers medical expenses and lost wages for other drivers and their passengers
  • Property damage liability: Covers the cost of damages to other parties’ vehicles and property

Liability coverage does not pay for damages to your own person, passengers or vehicle. It will, however, cover your court costs if you are sued.

Non-owner car insurance policies do not typically include a deductible and have coverage limits that are determined when you purchase your policy.

Some non-owner car insurance policies may offer add-ons such as underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage and personal injury protection (PIP). These policies cover the following:

  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage: Covers damages to your vehicle, person and passengers if an underinsured or uninsured motorist causes an accident
  • Personal injury protection: Pays for your medical expenses and medical expenses for your passengers after an accident, regardless of fault

Secondary coverage

Non-owner auto insurance coverage is considered secondary coverage. If an accident is covered by multiple insurance policies, the secondary policy only pays what isn’t covered by the primary policy. For example, if you borrow a friend’s car and are involved in an accident, your friend’s auto insurance policy will pay first, and your non-owner policy will cover any remaining costs or damages your friend’s policy fails to pay.

How much does non-owner car insurance cost?

Non-owner car insurance is typically cheaper than a standard liability policy. According to our market research, costs range from $200 to $600 per year and depend on a number of factors, including:

  • Age
  • Marital status
  • Driving history
  • Credit score
  • State
  • City

Typically, a non-owner car insurance policy does not include a deductible.

Do you need non-owner insurance?

Non-owner car insurance policies aren’t for every driver. Outlined below are several situations in which you should and should not purchase non-owner car insurance.

You Should Get Non-Owner Car Insurance If… Why It’s Worth It
You frequently rent cars When you rent a vehicle, you may consider purchasing rental car insurance from your rental agency. If you have your own non-owners car insurance policy, you may be able to avoid this expense. If you rent often, it may be cheaper to have your own policy.
You use a car-sharing service Car-sharing services provide liability coverage, but the amounts are low and may include a large deductible that you would be required to pay in the event of an accident (sometimes in the thousands). If you regularly use such a service, it’s worthwhile to have your own coverage.
You use a business vehicle for personal errands You may be personally liable for damages if you crash a work vehicle while using it for non-work purposes.
You want to maintain continuous coverage Failing to maintain continuous car insurance coverage can result in higher rates when you decide to buy car insurance again. If you’re between vehicles, a non-owner policy is a cheap way to maintain continuous coverage.
You need proof of insurance but don’t own a car If you have your license suspended for a DUI or failure to maintain proper insurance, it’s typically required that you file an SR-22 (or an FR-44 in Florida and Virginia) before your license will be reinstated. In order to get an SR-22, you will need proof of insurance, and a non-owner policy fulfills that requirement.

You may want to skip the coverage if you find any of the following applies to you:

You Should Not Get Non-Owner Car Insurance If…
You frequently borrow your friend’s car If you frequently borrow the same person’s vehicle, you should have yourself listed on their auto insurance policy rather than purchase your own non-owner car insurance.
You live in a household where a car is regularly parked Many insurers will not sell you a non-owner policy if you have regular access to a particular vehicle that belongs to someone in your household. Instead, the insurer will require you to be listed on that vehicle owner’s policy.
You drive a company car, but only for work purposes If you only use your work car for work purposes, you don’t need additional non-owner coverage.
You own a car If you own a vehicle, you should purchase a policy for that vehicle rather than non-owner car insurance.
Our recommendations for non-owner car insurance

If you need to purchase a non-owner policy, you’ll have a lot of options to choose from. Most of the country’s biggest auto insurance providers offer non-owner car insurance, including:

  • Allstate
  • Farmers
  • Geico
  • Liberty Mutual
  • Nationwide
  • Progressive
  • State Farm
  • USAA

You can request free car insurance quotes from several of these providers using the tool below. Be sure to consider two insurers that topped our list of the best car insurance companies: Geico and USAA.

Geico: 9.1 out of 10.0

Geico is one of the best-known insurers in the U.S. That’s not only because of its memorable advertising, but also because it offers the cheapest insurance coverage for many drivers. Part of the reason for this is Geico’s many car insurance discounts, such as:

  • Multi-policy discount
  • Multi-vehicle discount
  • Good driver discount
  • Good student discount
  • Safety feature discounts
  • New vehicle discount
  • Military discount
  • Emergency deployment discount
  • Federal employee discount

Geico policies aren’t only inexpensive, they’re also backed by a proven customer service track record. In the J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Auto Insurance Satisfaction StudySM, Geico scored above average in every region. In several regions, Geico even ranked first place.

USAA: 9.1 out of 10.0

We rate USAA just as highly as Geico, and for many of the same reasons. USAA offers cheap car insurance policies, and the insurer has many discounts, including:

  • Multi-vehicle discount
  • Safe driving discount
  • Good student discount
  • New vehicle discount
  • Low mileage discount
  • Vehicle storage discount
  • Family discount
  • Loyalty discount
  • Military installation discount

One of the downsides to USAA is that it is not available for all drivers. In order to be eligible for a policy with USAA, you must be a military member or have a family member with a USAA account. For this reason, USAA is not eligible to rank in the J.D. Power Auto Insurance Satisfaction Study. However, USAA is still given a score in this study, and it’s often the highest in the region.

To compare the two insurers in more detail, read our complete USAA vs. Geico review.

Our methodology

Because consumers rely on us to provide objective and accurate information, we created a comprehensive rating system to formulate our rankings of the best car insurance companies. We collected data on dozens of auto insurance providers to grade the companies on a wide range of ranking factors. The end result was an overall rating for each provider, with the insurers that scored the most points topping the list.

Here are the factors our ratings take into account:

  • Reputation: Our research team considered market share, ratings from industry experts and years in business when giving this score.
  • Availability: Auto insurance companies with greater state availability and few eligibility requirements scored highest in this category.
  • Coverage: Companies that offer a variety of choices for insurance coverage are more likely to meet consumer needs.
  • Cost: Average auto insurance rates and discount opportunities were both taken into consideration.
  • Customer Experience: This score is based on volume of complaints reported by the NAIC and customer satisfaction ratings reported by J.D. Power. We also considered the responsiveness, friendliness and helpfulness of each insurance company’s customer service team based on our own shopper analysis.
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