Just where, and how far, does car insurance coverage extend? To answer the question, a motorist should keep in mind that an auto insurance policy connects with a car, not with the driver. If a driver owns two vehicles, he will have separate policies for each. The distinction is important. To begin with, each vehicle may have its own insurance rating. While an insurance company may give you a discount for listing multiple cars, each car retains its own policy.

Other Drivers and Insurance

Since insurance attaches to the car, anyone driving the car remains covered by the vehicle’s policy. There’s one important detail. The owner of the car must give permission. If someone steals the car, for example, the thief is not entitled to any protection offered by the car insurance. If a driver passes the keys to a neighbour for a short errand, the neighbour is covered.

Such incidental use extends insurance protection. Note, however, that the owner of the vehicle still holds legal responsibility for the use of car, even when the neighbour drives it. It’s prudent to lend a car only to drivers whose habits are safe and responsible.

It’s also important to distinguish between incidental use and occasional and regular use. Though these aren’t legal terms, they are distinctions your insurance company may make in case of an accident investigation.

Incidental, Occasional and Regular Use of Vehicle

using car for work

As we’ve seen, incidental use is spontaneous and not regular, doing a favour to a friend. These car loans are once in a while and without pattern. Occasional use describes a driver who doesn’t have complete access to a car, but who nonetheless drives it on a recurring basis. A teen child is an example. Their access to the family car may be limited, but it is likely to reoccur. A regular use driver uses the car on something like a scheduled basis. This could be to and from work or school daily or some other similar use.

Insurance Impact of Use of Vehicle

The insurance company issuing the policy on a car driven by several people has an interest in those drivers. The incidental use driver is not a priority. There is no need for an owner to contact the car’s insurer to lend the vehicle on an incidental basis.

However, when it becomes occasional use, things change. The occasional use driver should be named on the policy. That driver’s record factors in to how the insurance company underwrites policies. It also changes how and when the car is on the road. This is another factor in premium calculation.

Regular use drivers, including the owner, also require disclosure to the insurer. Any occasional or regular use driver not listed on a policy could invalidate coverage if this status is uncovered in the investigation after an accident.

The Ratelab car insurance calculator can help you estimate auto insurance costs, even if you have other drivers to name on your policy. Enter your postal code below to get started.