Question: When dealing with insurance, who is considered a member of the household?

Answer:  In general, an immediate or extended family who lives with you as well as non-family household members who drive your vehicle, such as a roommate, can be considered a member of your household by a car insurance carrier.

However, the definition of a household member can vary from one insurance company to the next due to different underwriting rules and guidelines that each carrier has in place, as well as the language (terms) of your auto insurance policy. 

There also can be differences in state laws that help to define who is considered a household member and should be listed on, and covered by, a car insurance policy. 

A policy often defines “family member” as a person living in the named insured’s household who is related by blood, marriage or adoption. So family members for insurance purposes may include any immediate or extended family member of driving age such as parents, children, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, foster children, in-laws and step family members — although there may be some variations in this list among different carriers.

Digging into this a little deeper: A typical insurance policy may define a resident or household member as someone who has physical presence in your household with the intention of living there. Unmarried dependent children, while temporarily away from home to attend college, for example, are normally still considered residents or household members if they intend to live in the household during breaks and use their parent’s home address as their permanent address.

Household residents who may not need to be listed include non-family household residents who do not drive the vehicle. Again, insurance company guidelines vary, so when buying insurance you should find out from the insurance carrier who it considers a household member or household resident.

You need to inform insurer of all household members

Since a policy normally provides coverage for the named insured and other drivers who live in the same household, an insurer will request information (on the application) on the other drivers when considering whether to sell a policy. During its underwriting process, an insurer assesses the risk presented and determines whether it wants to write that risk (meaning issue a policy). If an insurance provider decides that it is willing to write the risk, it calculates the premium to be charged for the policy.

Not telling the insurance company about a household member is misrepresentation, a form of insurance fraud.

As mentioned earlier, if you have a household member you do not want on your policy, and he or she will not be driving your vehicle, you may be able to exclude the person from your policy if your state laws allow it. However, your insurance company still needs to be aware of the person as a household member so that he or she can be excluded from your policy. If a person is excluded from your car insurance policy this means that he or she will not have any coverage extended to them, even if driving your vehicle in an emergency situation.

You can see if your state laws dictate who is defined as a household member or if it is up to the individual insurance company by contacting your state’s insurance regulator. Once you know state laws, compare insurance companies to see which can give you the best rates for your household.

Check out our guide on do all household members need to be on car insurance

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Michelle Megna
Contributing Researcher

Michelle is a writer, editor and expert on car insurance and personal finance. She's a former editorial director. Prior to joining, she reported and edited articles on technology, lifestyle, education and government for magazines, websites and major newspapers, including the New York Daily News.