Question: My boyfriend was driving my car, and we were involved in an accident that wasn’t his fault. The other driver was ticketed. My boyfriend does not live with me. He is not included nor excluded from my policy. Two days after the accident, I received calls and e-mails from my insurance company requesting that I either add him to my policy or exclude him from my policy effective the day I purchased the policy. This seems a little odd to me. Is this a proper procedure?
Answer: Though it may seem odd to you, it’s not unusual for a car insurance company to require someone to be placed on your car insurance policy if the insurer has found (according to their rules) that this person drives the insured car enough to be considered a regular (or occasional) driver.
Most personal auto insurance policies require you only to list licensed household members, with others that you let drive the car covered as permissive users; however, there are times that non-household residents do need to be listed and rated as drivers on your policy. It appears that your boyfriend falls into the occasional driver category for your carrier and has since the inception of your policy.
An occasional driver is typically defined as a driver who doesn’t live in your household and drives your car on a frequent basis. How often they can drive your car and be considered an occasional driver varies by insurer.
Your car insurance company is now aware that your boyfriend drives your car and finds that his risk warrants him being rated as a driver or requires you to exclude him so that they aren’t subjected to the risks associated with him driving your car.
In general, an occasional driver is rated at a lower rate than a primary driver. If your boyfriend has a good driving record, then adding him may not affect your rates much. But if he has a bad driving record, especially with a serious offense, it could raise your rates by a fair amount.
Not all insurance companies require what your insurer has; it depends upon state laws, their guidelines, how often the person drives your car and other factors. Your agent should be able to explain to you why the insurer decided that your boyfriend had to be added to the policy effective date.
If, after speaking to your agent, you still feel it’s unfair, you can contact your state’s insurance regulator to discuss the situation.
Car insurance companies underwriting rules vary, so try comparing car insurance quotes that are a better fit for you. Other insurers may also require your boyfriend to be on the policy as an occasional driver but have cheaper rates, or you may find car insurance carriers who don’t require your boyfriend to be added or excluded but covered as a permissive user.
— Penny Gusner contributed to this story.