If you have your own car insurance, it may allow you to drive other cars without having to be a named driver on someone else’s policy. This cover may be for the third party only, which is restrictive cover. If you are a named driver on a comprehensive policy in someone else’s name, you will also be insured fully comprehensive.
Insuring a car you don’t own
Most insurance policies expect that you are the owner and registered keeper of the car. If you don’t own the car, some insurers will have restrictions about the cars you can insure. Usually, you can only insure a partner’s car, one owned by a parent, an employer's car or a leased vehicle.
Most insurers assume that you own the car insured. If this is not the case, and you have not told the insurance company about ownership details, the policy will be invalid.
It is possible to take out your own car insurance policy to cover you for a vehicle that the owner has also insured, though you must not be the main driver. Some insurers will charge you more for a policy to cover a car that you do not own, but like all insurance cover, it can pay to shop around or use price comparison sites.
The registered keeper of a car may not be the owner. For example, if you have a company car, your company owns the vehicle but you can be registered as the keeper. The company may have an insurance policy that covers all the cars it owns. You will be qualified to drive the car and be covered by the company in this instance.
If you hire a rental car, you will have insurance cover to drive it, but may face hefty excess charges for any damage. You can take out additional insurance to cover these excess charges.
Can car insurance be in someone else’s name if I’m the main driver?
Insurance companies expect the person who takes out a car insurance policy is the main driver. Any other person named as a driver must not be the main driver.
It is cheaper to add a young inexperienced driver to an insurance policy than to take out a policy in their name. A parent may be tempted to take out a policy as the main driver and add a son or daughter as a named driver. If the son or daughter is involved in an accident and the insurance company finds out that they are in reality the main driver and not the parent, the insurance claim may be rejected.
If the parent is insured as the main driver with their child as a named driver and the parent never or only rarely drives the vehicle, this is known as “fronting” and is illegal.
This means it’s best to be truthful when insuring a car with other named drivers, and be honest about declaring who is the main driver.
Make sure you are covered
If you want to drive a car not insured in your name, you will be able to drive it on the owner’s insurance policy as long as the car insurance company is informed and you have paid any extra charges. Always check the extent of the insurance cover and be aware of any excess charges should you make a claim.
Don’t assume that your own car insurance covers you to drive someone else's car. Check your policy documents carefully to find out and be aware of the risks if you are only covered for third party.