In most states, only the owner of a car can insure it or add people to the policy. However, if your wife is the sole owner of one or more of your family's cars, you can drive it without having to get insurance in your name. That's because vehicle insurance covers the vehicle, not the driver, explains Allstate.
In some cases, your insurance policy limits who can drive your car and have the insurance remain active. Reviewing the basics of insuring a car that isn't in your name will help you make sure you and your wife – and your vehicle – are properly insured.
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What Does Vehicle Insurance Cover?
Depending on your state's minimum vehicle insurance coverage regulations, vehicle insurance covers passengers, damage to the car, property damage caused by the car and other people injured by the operation of the car, explains Progressive Insurance. This can include medical expenses.
For example, if you hit a tree while driving a car you own and you and/or a passenger are injured, you are insured. If you hit another car and those occupants are injured, they are insured by your policy. If you damage a person's car or other property, your insurance pays for the repairs. Your policy will usually include uninsured motorist protection in the event that you are in an accident caused by someone else and that person doesn't have insurance. Look at your policy to learn about:
- Liability insurance: Covers vehicle damage, medical bills for injuries, property damage and lawsuit defense and awards
- Collision coverage: Covers the vehicle when it's being operated
- Medical: Provides payment for medical bills
- Comprehensive: Includes coverage for things like a broken windshield, storm damage, fire or vandalism
- Uninsured motorist: Provides coverage for an accident caused by someone without insurance
You can purchase optional coverage, such as rideshare (if you work for Uber or Lyft), roadside assistance or gap insurance (to cover theft or a total loss so you can replace your car).
Who Should Insure a Car?
The owner of a car usually has to purchase insurance to operate it legally. In addition, if you are taking out a car loan or are leasing a vehicle, the loan company will require the owner (and any co-signer) to carry insurance. In some cases, a lender might require a forced-place policy to guarantee the car is insured properly, points out the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Spouses and Vehicle Insurance
Can you insure a car that's not in your name? If your spouse owns a vehicle and you are not on the loan or lease as the owner of the car or are in no other way considered a legal owner of the vehicle, you can't get insurance unless you have your spouse's permission. This is done by contacting your insurance company and getting a joint insurance policy.
Your wife must continue to insure the car in her name if she is the owner (her name is on the title). Let's say you marry and you each own a car. Your wife wants a new car, but instead of her selling her car, you sell your car and decide to drive hers because it's better than the one you have.
Your wife now owns two cars and must insure them both. You can be added to either policy or get a new joint policy. Joint policies are often cheaper than single policies, so this move helps your personal finances.
While auto insurance policies generally cover the vehicle, damage and other issues regardless of who is driving it, that's not always the case. Some policies won't let you allow anyone under a certain age to drive the car on a regular basis. If you're under 25 years old or want your kids to be able to drive your car, find out if you can drive your wife's car without insurance problems.