Question: I’m looking for a good definition of a permissive user. How far does the coverage extend? 

Answer: In general, a permissive user is defined by auto insurance companies as a person who is not listed on the policy but who operates an insured vehicle with the permission of the owner. The permissive user may or may not be covered in the event of a loss depending on the term of the insurance contract and individual state’s laws on permissive driver use.

The majority of car insurance companies require that all household members and regular operators of the vehicle be listed on the insurance application. A permissive user is typically not a household member. 

A permissive driver, for example, is a friend or family member who visits and you grant them permission to use your vehicle. Most auto insurance policies will extend them coverage.  However, if the person lives with you or frequently drives your vehicle, they normally need to be added as a driver on your policy.

You should be aware that a failure to comply with the policy terms may result in coverage being denied.

Since the owner of a vehicle can be liable for injury or damage that occurs with their property it’s important to review your policy declarations page. It should list who is covered in the event of a loss and how your policy provides these coverages. Your insurance agent or insurance carrier also will be able to provide you with specific information regarding your policy and be able to answer any questions you may have about who is covered.


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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.