What is Permissive Use Car Insurance?

When is a friend or family member allowed to borrow your vehicle?

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

Permissive use is a feature included in most car insurance policies that allows a person unlisted on your policy to drive your vehicle. An important note is that 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.

Key takaways:

  • Permissive use allows someone not listed on a car insurance policy to drive the insured vehicle up to 12 times per year
  • All insurance coverage should transfer to the permissive user in an accident, but check with your insurer for details
  • Adding a driver to your policy may be better for frequent or extended use
  • Most big insurers offer permissive use, unless you have a named driver policy

Can my friend borrow my car?

Yes, your friend can borrow your car and still be protected ... in most cases. You will want to double-check with your insurer that this is built into your policy. Most larger car insurance companies will allow this, but look out for stipulations. Most will simply require that use not be excessive (fewer than 12 times in a year, for instance). 

In short, your coverage should transfer to a friend as long as you adhere to the guidelines laid out by your insurer. 

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.

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. Injuries to the driver and passengers as well as medical payments, where allowed, are covered, as well as bodily injury and property damage 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.

As always, if you are unsure, it's always best to check your policy details or your insurance agent for specifics.

insurance policy

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.

Factor Permissive Use Adding a New Driver to Policy
Frequency of Use Up to 12 times per year Regular use
Coverage All insurance coverage applies (in most cases) All insurance coverage applies
Premiums No additional cost Increase in premiums
Ease of Use Quick and easy to allow temporary use Requires adding driver to policy
Driver Restrictions Limited to 12 uses per year Anyone can be added to policy
Length of Coverage Temporary Long-term

Exceptions to permissive use 

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, they may not be covered. Below you can find more examples of when permissive use may not apply.

  • Unauthorized drivers: As the key word here is "permissive," if the person using the car does not have the owner's permission or isn't a licensed driver, the permissive use clause may not apply.
  • Business use: Any business activity, such as deliveries or transporting passengers for hire, will likely not be covered under permissive use.
  • Criminal activity: As with any auto policy, don't expect your coverage to automatically apply if your vehicle is used in the committing of a crime.
  • Intentional acts: Drivers who intentionally cause damage or injury while using the car will not be covered by permissive use.
  • Excluded drivers: If you have excluded a driver from your policy in writing, there are no instances where your coverage will apply.

Which insurance companies offer permissive use?

Most of the big auto insurance companiesAllstate, 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. 

Insurance agent


Anyone who uses your car on a limited basis (12 times or fewer per yer) should be covered under your policy as long as they are adhering to the guidelines laid out in your policy.

If the driver has permission to use your vehicle — and your policy has a permissive use clause — then your coverage should transfer to them. Some companies may only transfer certain coverage types to permissive use drivers, so you'll want to check the fine print or ask your insurer before letting someone behind the wheel of your car.

This is highly dependent on the situation. However, if your coverage is used to pay out a claim, you can expect that your rates will be affected in the future. Also, if you or the driver are found to be abusing the terms of the permissive use clause, your insurer will likely not cover any claims, leaving you on the hook for all damages.

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 here.

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