IN PLAIN ENGLISH

What is non-owner car insurance?

Non-owners car insurance is a liability-only coverage for those who don't own a car but still need car insurance. This means it only covers damage you cause to other drivers (bodily injury) and their property. It offers no collision or comprehensive coverage for your vehicle or bodily injury coverage for you or your passengers.

In a nutshell, non-owners car insurance is designed to provide coverage under the following circumstances:

  • You need an SR-22 but don’t own a car
  • You’re an occasional driver that doesn’t own a vehicle
  • You’re between vehicles
  • You rent vehicles frequently
  • You use Car2Go or Zipcar-type services often
  • You don’t own a vehicle but want to avoid a lapse in car insurance coverage

 

How and where to buy non-owners insurance

Although much cheaper than a traditional car insurance policy, non-owners policies can be difficult to find. You will typically have to look at a non-standard or smaller insurance company to find coverage. Furthermore, you typically have to purchase a non-owners policy over the phone.

Here at The Zebra, we work with companies that will write a non-owners policy for you! We can quote you over the phone from different insurance companies in order to find you the right coverage at the right price. Give us a call at 888-444-2833 to get spam-free non-owners quotes.

Below are some other companies you can get a quote for a non-owners policy.

Car insurance companies with non-owner car insurance:

*Partner of The Zebra
**Must have an existing policy with Progressive to qualify.

Car insurance companies without non-owner car insurance:

  • Allstate
  • Esurance
  • Liberty Mutual

 

What does non-owners insurance cover?

This policy works like a traditional car insurance policy with one major exception: with a non-owners car insurance policy, you’re limited to liability coverage. Meaning, you won't have comprehensive or collision coverage (also known as full coverage). 

The reason for this is simple: the insurance company through which you receive non-owners insurance doesn’t know the specifics of the vehicle you'll be driving — thus no way to price your premium. 

The value of the vehicle they would need to replace through collision and comprehensive could vary, from an affordable pre-owned vehicle to a brand new Mercedes Benz G-Class. Without this, a non-owners policy would be the best “insurance hack” of all time.

 

Non-owner liability coverage (coverage for other drivers/vehicles):

Liability insurance covers the damage you cause in an at-fault auto accident. While it doesn't cover physical damage to your vehicle, it does give you coverage for another driver's property damage.

Like a traditional liability policy, non-owners liability will break down like this:

LimitCoverage Description
50/$50,000 in bodily injury liability coverage per person
100/$100,000 in bodily injury coverage per incident
50$50,000 in property damage liability per incident

 

Non-owner uninsured motorist coverage (coverage for you): 

If you’re struck by a driver who does not have auto insurance, this coverage would kick in. While coverage details may depend on the individual policy, this typically covers any bodily injury costs suffered by you or your passenger(s), as well as property damage to your vehicle.

 

Medical coverage/Personal Injury Protection (coverage for you):

This provides coverage for medical expenses and associated fees for you and your passengers. This may include lost wages, medical expenses, and ambulance rides, up to a certain percent.

 

Who Needs a Non-Owners Policy?

There is any number of reasons you might need a non-owners policy. However, the  main reasons you should buy a non-owners is:

  • You need an SR-22 but don’t own a car
  • You’re an occasional driver that doesn’t own a vehicle
  • You’re between vehicles
  • You rent vehicles frequently
  • You use Car2Go or Zipcar-type services often
  • You don’t own a vehicle but want to avoid a lapse in car insurance coverage


1. Non-owner car insurance for an SR-22

Basically, an SR-22 is a certificate that states you are carrying at least the state’s minimum liability insurance. You'll typically only need an SR-22 if your drivers license has been suspended or you've been cited after an accident or violation.

To be clear, an SR-22 is not insurance. It's simply a piece of paper stating you have liability coverage. If you don't own a vehicle and need to show proof of insurance, you might find yourself needing a non-owner policy. A non-owner insurance policy will help fill the gap between needing to show proof of liability protection without having to purchase and insure a car.

Moreover, you might find yourself in a situation in which your current company doesn’t offer an SR-22. Not every company provides SR-22s, simply because of their inherent risk. If you need an SR-22 and your current company will not provide it, consider a non-owners policy. This would require paying for a second policy, but premiums on non-owners' policies are normally cheaper than are traditional auto insurance policies. Carrying non-owner insurance could be more affordable than switching all of your coverage to a different carrier. This would also keep you compliant with state regulations, avoiding fees and insurance suspensions. 

For more information on SR-22s and what they mean for your car insurance, see our in-depth guide to SR-22 insurance.

 

2. Non-owner insurance for occasional drivers who don't own a car

This applies to drivers who rent often (i.e., you travel quite a bit), borrow friend’s vehicles, or use Zip or car2go services.

  • Borrowing a friend’s car:

Depending on your friend’s car insurance policy, they might have a permissive use policy. Permissive use extends coverage to drivers who infrequently drive the insured’s vehicle and do not live in the insured’s home. Typically, a permissive user can count as someone who uses the vehicle less than 12 times a year.

A non-owners policy can be a good idea if your friend’s liability policy isn’t sufficient in the event of an at-fault accident. For example, your friend lives in California and has state liability limits (15/30/5). You caused over $5,000 in property damage and thus exceed your friend’s liability limits. In most cases, you would be liable for the remaining damage. With a non-owners policy, you would have supplementary coverage.

  • Renting a vehicle often:

If you rent often enough, a non-owners policy might be cheaper than paying for the liability coverage offered by a rental company. Bear in mind, non-owners coverage offers no coverage for the physical protection of your rental car — aka, your collision and comprehensive coverage.

  • Use car services like car2go or ZipCar frequently

Like using your friend’s vehicle and potentially exceeding their coverage, non-owners coverage provides supplementary coverage for ZipCar and car2go-like services. In the event of a costly at-fault accident in which you exceed the liability limits of car2go or ZipCar, you can use your non-owners policy to avoid paying for the damage yourself.

 

3. You don’t own a vehicle but want to maintain insurance coverage.

Having gaps in your car insurance history — even without a vehicle registered to you — can be a red flag once you start shopping for car insurance. Insurance companies, regardless of what your reason for not having insurance, see you as more likely to be driving uninsured. Naturally, an uninsured driver is a major risk factor for insurance companies and will charge accordingly for them. 

Their historical data shows that drivers without an insurance history are more likely to get cited or file a claim. Thus the higher premium. Depending on the insurer you choose, you could either be denied coverage or be charged a higher rate.

In 2019, the average difference between a 30-year-old driver who has continuous coverage and a 30-year-old driver without any insurance coverage was $265 (or $132 per 6-month policy period).

So, if you’ve sold your vehicle and don't plan on driving regularly for a period of time, a non-owners policy might be a good option. This can help keep your future premiums low by keeping you in the good graces of potential insurers.

 

Non-owner car insurance cost

Insurance rates for non-owners policies vary from one company to another. High-risk drivers — like those with a DUI on their driving record — will always face higher rates. Along with your driving history, there are a number of other factors that inform what you pay, including your age, where you live, and how often you plan to drive. In general, most non-owner policies typically cost less than you'd pay for standard car insurance coverage.

*Non-owner car insurance policy availability will vary by state and situation. Some direct carriers do not offer non-owner coverage over the phone and require you set up coverage through a local agent or broker. If you are in the market for this coverage, call us at 888-444-2833.

Ava Lynch LinkedIn

Ava worked in the insurance industry as an agent for four-plus years. Currently providing insights and analysis as one of The Zebra’s resident property insurance experts, Ava has been featured in publications such as U.S. News & World Report, GasBuddy, and Yahoo! Finance.

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Recent Questions:

How do I get insurance if I'm not the owner of the car I'm driving?

Many companies will still insure you even if you're not the owner of the vehicle. However, they will likely want your father to be listed on your policy as an additional interest since he is the owner.

How do I get insurance for making deliveries if I'm borrowing a car?

A non-owners insurance policy provides liability coverage for drivers who don't own a car. However, if the vehicles aren't insured and registered by your mother-in-law, you are still not going to be legal on Colorado roads. As for making deliveries, you will need a personal policy that also covers your business-use.

As a co-borrower on a car loan, what happens if the insurance payments aren't made?

The policy would cancel if she doesn't pay the premiums. Legally speaking, this wouldn't have an effect on you if you're a non-driver. However, if the vehicle is found to be without insurance, the finance company could repo the vehicle or force place insurance on it

How does the price of a non-owners policy compare to liability insurance?

A non-owners policy gives provides liability coverage so that they can drive a non-owned vehicle. As such, it will be much cheaper because there is no specific vehicle to insure.

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