Can I drive my parents’ car without insurance?

You can drive your parents' car without being on their insurance as an occasional driver, but if you're a teen living at home and driving their car frequently, you should be added to their policy. Otherwise, they risk having their claims denied by their insurance company.

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UPDATED: May 31, 2022

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Written By: Laura BerryReviewed By: Joel OhmanUPDATED: May 31, 2022Fact Checked

Here's what you need to know...

  • You can drive your parents’ car and be covered under their insurance policy 
  • If you drive your parents’ car consistently, they should add you to their auto insurance policy
  • You should not drive a vehicle if it does not carry the proper insurance

If you’re new to driving or need to borrow a car, you may need to use your parents’ vehicle. However, many people who plan to drive a parent’s car wonder whether they will be able to do so under that parent’s insurance policy. Understanding a car insurance policy can be complicated, but we’ll give you a full explanation of how coverage works in this situation.

Auto insurance technically follows the vehicle rather than the person. So you should be able to drive your parents’ car without worrying about car insurance coverage. However, if you need to drive the vehicle for more than a few days, you should speak with your parents about adding yourself to their car insurance policy.

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Can I drive my parents’ car without insurance?

You can drive a parent’s vehicle without having your own auto insurance policy if you are home for a visit and are a licensed driver. The coverage your parents carry on their car should cover you and anyone else who occasionally drives their car with their permission.

Some companies have stipulations about how often or regularly a person can drive an insured car without being named on the policy. Therefore, your parents should check their policy and consider adding you to their insurance if you will be driving their car for several weeks or months.

If you have car insurance under your parents’ policy, you can expect the coverage in their policy to extend to you. But adding a family member to a policy will almost always make rates increase. And this is especially true when adding a teen driver.

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What is permissive use coverage?

Permissive use applies to anyone who does not live in your household and drives your vehicle. For example, if you give a person permission to drive your car to the grocery store, you have given them permissive use of your vehicle.

Auto insurance companies incorporate permissive use into most policies so friends or neighbors can drive someone else’s vehicle and be covered by their auto insurance in an accident.

Without permissive use, a driver would have to pay for any damage or injuries out of their pocket.

But permissive use coverage is the exact coverage that the policyholder purchased. So if the policyholder of a vehicle only carries liability on their car and you get into an accident, the insurance company is not responsible for paying for vehicle repairs.

Even with permissive use coverage, things can get tricky if you’re in a car accident while driving someone else’s car. If there has been any breach of contract in terms of the insurance policy such as alcohol consumption or fraud the insurance company can refuse to accept a car insurance claim from the insured.

Why do I need to be added to my parents’ policy?

If you regularly drive your parents’ vehicle, your parents should add you to their insurance policy. While insurance companies allow for permissive use of a vehicle, there is a difference when the car is used regularly by a driver not covered under the policy.

Some companies will automatically add a driver to a policy if the insured files a claim. In most cases, this driver is a teen driver living in the same home as the policyholder, and the teen driver was driving at the time of the accident. In most cases, this will lead to an increase in monthly car insurance rates.

But some insurance companies will choose not to renew an insurance policy if someone was driving the vehicle at the time of the accident who was not covered under the policy. If this happens to your parents, they could face higher rates when switching to another provider.

In some extreme cases, an insurance company will deny the claim of an insured who allowed a person not named on the insurance policy to drive their car. 

Some companies deduce that parents have allowed their kids to regularly drive their car but enjoyed lower rates by not listing their children on their policy. If your company somehow finds this out, it could deny your claim. 

How much is car insurance with a teen driver on the policy?

Once parents decide it’s time to add one or more children to their auto insurance policy, they can expect their rates to increase.

The table below shows average auto insurance rates for a full coverage policy in each state.

Full Coverage Average Premiums by State
StateFull Coverage Rates
District of Columbia$1,330.73
New Hampshire$818.75
New Jersey$1,382.79
New Mexico$937.59
New York$1,360.66
North Carolina$789.09
North Dakota$773.30
Rhode Island$1,303.50
South Carolina$973.10
South Dakota$766.91
West Virginia$1,025.78
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The rates may seem high if parents currently only have a liability policy on their vehicles. But full coverage rates and rates for any car insurance type will go up when parents add one or more young drivers to a policy.

If you believe your car insurance rates are higher than they should be for your family, there are a few things you can do to try and save money on your monthly premiums. 

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How can parents get cheaper car insurance?

Parents may get cheaper rates on their car insurance by doing a few different things.

First, everyone should make a habit of comparing auto insurance quotes at least once a year. If you don’t compare quotes from multiple car insurance companies, there is no way to know whether you’re getting the best deal on coverage.

You can use an online quote tool to find and compare quotes from several companies in your area. Once you find the companies you believe will work best, you can call them and discuss your options for coverage.

Another way to save money on auto insurance rates is to ask for discounts. Insurance companies offer many different car insurance discount options to policyholders. Some of the most common discounts on car insurance include:

  • Multi-policy
  • Multi-car
  • Vehicle safety
  • New car
  • Anti-theft device
  • Good driver
  • Defensive driver
  • Good student
  • Paid-in-full
  • Paperless bill
  • Occupation

If you believe you qualify for any of the discounts listed above, don’t hesitate to ask a representative whether you are eligible for a discount on your auto insurance coverage.

Some families choose to save money on their car insurance policy by carrying the lowest level of coverage possible. And while liability policies are less expensive than full-coverage policies, the risk of paying a lot out of your pocket if you are in an accident is much greater.

Parents who can afford to pay for full coverage on their cars should choose to do so for added peace of mind.

And keep in mind that it is always illegal to drive a parent’s car if that vehicle is not adequately insured. If you were to do so and get into a car accident, you and your parents could get into trouble.

Driving A Parent’s Car Without Insurance: The Bottom Line

You can occasionally drive your parent’s car if you do not have insurance and are a licensed driver. The insurance your parents have on the vehicle will likely also cover you if you are in an accident.

If you plan to drive your parents’ vehicle regularly, make sure your parents add you to their insurance policy. Once your parents add you to the policy, you will have the same level of coverage in the event of an accident. Otherwise, the company could refuse to cover a claim.

Parents can compare quotes from multiple insurance companies and ask about any discounts they believe they might be eligible for to save money on car insurance premiums. If possible, parents should carry full coverage on their vehicles.

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Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about auto insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything auto insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by auto insurance experts.

A former insurance producer, Laura understands that education is key when it comes to buying insurance. She has happily dedicated many hours to helping her clients understand how the insurance marketplace works so they can find the best car, home, and life insurance products for their needs.

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Written by Laura Berry
Former Insurance Agent Laura Berry

Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP® Joel Ohman

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