It’s a reasonable question. “I don’t own a car, so why on earth would I pay money for car insurance?”

That’s essentially what non-owner car insurance is. Just like its name suggests, it’s auto insurance for individuals that do not own any vehicles.

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So, Why Would I Need It?

Well, chances are if you have a driver’s license and don’t have a vehicle in your possession, then you have probably driven or rented someone else’s car. Maybe it was through a friend, relative, really nice acquaintance, or car sharing service like Zipcar.

Regardless, you might not have even realized that you were at risk while driving. In some cases – the best cases – you actually aren’t. When driving a close friend or relative’s car, you are likely covered under the owner’s insurance policy. This is known as permissive driver coverage. When a car owner gives permission to others to operate their vehicle, the car insurance typically “follows” the car, protecting you, the vehicle, and offering liability coverage if an accident occurs.

That said, such extended coverage isn’t standard in every case or every policy. You should check with the owner of the car you’re borrowing before driving, as it’s in everyone’s best interest that you are safely covered.


What Happens if You Aren’t Covered?

That’s where non-owner car insurance steps in! Chances are if you don’t know the car owner well, you aren’t going to be protected under the policy’s coverage umbrella. Non-owner car insurance protects you and your assets in case of an accident by offering liability coverage.

If you’re deemed at-fault, then you could be financially burdened with costs that hurt your personal resources. Non-owner coverage would cover the repair expenses of the other car, and the other driver’s injuries, just not your own. The best part is that there’s rarely a deductible on these policies, so you won’t have to pay a dime.


Is Non-Owner Auto Insurance Right for You?

Non-owner car insurance can be a smart and economical option so that you won’t get hit with costs from an at-fault accident.  It could be the perfect option for you if you have no car of your own and:

  • Rent cars often

If you’re renting cars regularly (10+ days a year), then non-owner car insurance may be for you. Dropping money down on day or week long insurance coverage through a rental company adds up fast. By purchasing a non-owner insurance policy, you can actually save money by proving you already hold the required liability coverage when driving a rented vehicle.

  • Use Zipcar or other car-sharing service

While Zipcar offers some coverage through their contract, it’s always good to have backup when dealing with a large company. Chances are that if there’s an issue, both the company and you may be held at-fault. Non-owner insurance can give you the back-up security you need.

  • Drive someone else’s car frequently

Do you really want to risk having to pay for someone’s car damages and injuries out of pocket? We all hope accidents don’t happen, but sometimes they do and you want to be prepared so that you don’t find yourself blindsided with costs you can’t afford to pay. By having non-owner insurance, you’ll be covered.

  • State laws

You should also check your state’s laws, as sometimes, they require a certain degree of liability coverage. For example, if you are considered a high-risk driver, you may also be required to show an SR-22 form to verify that you are maintaining liability coverage. You can get this form on top of your non-owner car insurance and prove that you have the liability protection you need.


How Much Does It Cost?

While you’ll likely still have your own expenses to pay for, unless you’re under someone’s permissive use coverage, non-owner car insurance can be affordable and offer the protection you need. It can even act as secondary coverage when the vehicle’s primary coverage is depleted.

Like all auto insurance policies, the cost depends on a variety of factors. Location, driving history, and age can all play a role in determining the cost of non-owner car insurance. How often you plan to be driving is also an extremely influential factor in setting your rate. Usually, the cost ranges from around $200-500 a year. Compare quotes from a few different providers, read up on your state requirements, and go from there.

Photo credit (top image): Karyn Christner, Caitlin Regan, Hertz, Enterprise