Even if you don’t own a car, you might need your own auto insurance coverage. A special kind of policy called non-owner car insurance should fit the bill.
Non-owner car insurance provides liability coverage when you’re renting a vehicle or borrowing someone else’s car. This liability coverage pays for injuries and property damage that you cause to other drivers and their passengers.
A non-owner auto insurance policy might be right for you if:
- You’ve been convicted of a DUI or other serious violation and your state requires you to file an SR-22 form — known as FR-44 in some states — to get a driver’s license or to get yours reinstated. These forms prove that you have car insurance. A non-owner policy will suffice if you don’t own a car.
- You rent cars frequently. A non-owner policy might be cheaper than paying for the rental car company’s liability insurance every time.
- You use a car-sharing service such as Zipcar. A non-owner policy supplements the liability coverage the car-sharing service provides. You might want this extra protection if you have savings or other assets to protect in case an accident victim sues you.
- You borrow others’ cars frequently. Normally, if you cause an accident while driving a friend’s car, their insurance would pay. But if the costs exceed your friend’s liability limits, you could be on the hook for the remainder. Non-owner car insurance would supplement your friend’s coverage in this case.
Best companies for non-owner car insurance
If you fit one of these descriptions and are interested in non-owner car insurance, here are three well-known companies that offer the coverage:
- Offers non-owner auto coverage through a variety of products
- Eligibility determined on case-by-case basis
- Talk to a local agent to find the best option for you.
- Offers non-owner liability coverage for rental cars
- Talk to a representative to find the best option for you.
- Coverage can be purchased from local agent or over the phone
- Online quotes not available
- Call Nationwide or a local agent to find the best option.
A non-owner policy can also help by establishing continuous auto insurance coverage. Having periods when you’re uninsured — even if you’re between vehicles — could make you look “risky” in the eyes of some auto insurers and lead to high rates down the road when you buy a car and apply for a standard insurance policy.
[Tickets? You might be able to get a better deal by comparing quotes through NerdWallet’s Car Insurance Tool.]
When not to bother
You’re not a good candidate for non-owner car insurance if you have regular access to a car and are covered by the owner’s policy. You don’t need a non-owner policy, for instance, if you live with your parents and use their cars. In most cases, you’ll be listed as a driver on their policy.
What non-owner car insurance covers
In addition to liability insurance, a non-owner policy can include medical coverage for yourself and uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance, in some states. Uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance covers your medical bills if you’re injured in an accident caused by a driver without any or enough liability insurance.
Non-owner insurance does not include collision or comprehensive insurance. In a standard auto policy, collision and comprehensive cover repairs or replacement of the vehicle you own. That means you’ll still have to take some precautions at the rental car counter. Use a credit card that offers rental car coverage or buy the rental car company’s collision-damage waiver, which removes your financial responsibility for damage to the car.
Cost of a non-owner policy
Typically, you can buy a non-owner car insurance policy for less than you’d spend for the same level of liability coverage on a standard car insurance policy. The cost is lower because you don’t have regular access to a car.
The price depends on your age and driving record, where you live and how often you plan to drive.
If you are interested in a non-owner car insurance, you should call an agent or company directly. For standard policies, you can get get car insurance quotes online.
Updated Feb. 16, 2016.