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What does permissive use mean, and how does it work in car insurance?

When it comes to car insurance, permissive use refers to the ability of other drivers - unlisted on your insurance policy - to drive your vehicle. Permissive use auto insurance allows infrequent use of a vehicle - fewer than 12 times per year - by a driver (a permissive user) who does not live at the same address as the policyholder. For example, a family friend or neighbor would qualify under permissive use, but an immediate family member who lives with you would not.

Commonly asked questions

Permissive use can get complicated. Let's explore some frequently asked questions on who exactly is allowed to drive a car while staying within the boundaries of your auto insurance policy.

Is permissive use standard on all car insurance policies?

Permissive use is a fairly standard feature of most auto insurance policies written by large insurance companies. If you are insured by a smaller or non-standard insurance company, double-check to confirm your policy's permissive use standards.

Another scenario in which permissive use may not apply is a named driver policy. A named driver policy is a relatively rare policy type that covers only those drivers explicitly listed on the policy. Again, if you aren't sure about your specific car insurance coverage, then connect with an agent to clarify.

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Does all of my insurance coverage apply to the permitted driver?

If someone not listed on your car insurance policy is involved in a car accident while driving your car, all your insurance coverage should transfer over to cover the costs. Your bodily injury, liability, and even comprehensive and collision should apply in the event of a claim. We say should because some smaller non-standard insurance companies may only transfer your bodily injury and property damage liability in this situation.

Check your policy details and insurance carrier for specifics.

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Permissive use vs. adding a new driver to your policy?

The general rule of permissive use is a driver can use your car up to 12 times per year. Each time a driver enters and leaves the car counts as a separate "trip" under permissive use regulations. If you're going to be taking a road trip or they will be using your vehicle for a few weeks, consider adding them to your car insurance policy. This will increase your premium temporarily, but you can always remove them later.

Speak to an agent at your insurance company for details about your individual auto insurance policy.

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What are the limits to permissive use of auto insurance?

All limitations and rules that normally apply to your auto policy will apply in a permissive use case. For example, if you let another person borrow your vehicle to drive for Lyft and you don't have a rideshare endorsement, you could be penalized.

How much does permissive use cost?

Permissive use is usually an all-or-nothing policy feature. The price is built into the premium you pay for your car insurance.

Learn more about how much car insurance usually costs

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Which insurance companies offer permissive use?

Most of the big auto insurance companies - Allstate, AAA, GEICO, and USAA - allow for permissive use, but you should always confirm your policy details. If you have a named driver policy with any of those companies, you will not have permissive use. You should contact your insurer to verify you have permissive use prior to letting a friend borrow your car. As much as you may want to help out a friend, it's important to make sure your car insurance coverage is sufficient before someone else takes to the road in your motor vehicle. If you're shopping for a new insurance company, enter your zip code below to compare rates and connect with one of many auto insurance companies. 

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In Alabama, does the car insurance follow the driver or the car?

In my experience, it's always the rule that car insurance follows the vehicle, not the driver. So, although the person who hit your daughter wasn't the owner of the vehicle, their car insurance would still apply in this situation.
Jun 15, 2018 Auburn, AL

About The Zebra

The Zebra is not an insurance company. We publish data-backed, expert-reviewed resources to help consumers make more informed insurance decisions.

  • The Zebra’s insurance content is written and reviewed for accuracy by licensed insurance agents.
  • The Zebra’s insurance content is not subject to review or alteration by insurance companies or partners.
  • The Zebra’s editorial team operates independently of the company’s partnerships and commercialization interests, publishing unbiased information for consumer benefit.
  • The auto insurance rates published on The Zebra’s pages are based on a comprehensive analysis of car insurance pricing data, evaluating more than 83 million insurance rates from across the United States.