Occasional Driver Insurance Coverage

Insurance coverage for occasional or secondary drivers

If you’re looking to allow your kids, spouse, or friends to drive your vehicle it’s important to understand the insurance rules for occasional or secondary drivers.

Most of the time, car insurance policies have at least one driver on the policy, however, many policies have multiple drivers listed. This is common among families or businesses with work vehicles. If you find yourself in a situation where you aren’t sure whether an occasional or secondary driver needs to be added to your policy, continue reading this article. We will describe the different types of drivers (occasional, primary, and secondary) and who can be on a policy.

What is a primary driver?

The primary driver is the person who is the main driver of the vehicle. In most cases, they are the person who purchases or leases the vehicle and takes out an insurance policy. Every insured vehicle has a primary driver on the policy.

The primary driver’s insurance rates are based on their driving record which includes any tickets or accidents they have experienced. In some cases, the primary driver doesn’t own the vehicle – this is common among parents who own their children’s vehicle.

What is an occasional driver?

An occasional driver listed on an insurance policy sometimes referred to as a ‘secondary driver’, is someone who regularly drivers the vehicle but no more than the primary driver. They typically drive the vehicle less than 50% of the time.

Secondary drivers are commonly teenagers, spouses, parents, or friends and they typically use the vehicle a couple of times a week, mostly for running errands. It’s important the secondary driver is listed on the insurance policy because of the risk when someone other than the primary driver takes the car on the road. If this person gets an accident and they are not listed on the policy, insurance can deny any claims!

Who should listed be as a secondary driver?

Anybody who drives your vehicle on a regular basis should be listed as a secondary driver on your insurance policy.

This includes:

  • Teenager with a G or G2 license
  • Parents
  • Roommates
  • All licensed drivers in your home
  • Nanny

You do not need to add:

  • Out-of-town relatives visiting
  • Neighbors who borrow your car while there’s is at the mechanic
  • Siblings running one-off errands

What are the occasional driver insurance rules in Ontario?

All individuals looking to add an occasional driver to their insurance should follow these rules:

  1. Any person who regularly uses your vehicle should be added as a secondary driver.
  2. Any person with a driver’s license in your home should be added as a secondary driver.
  3. Make sure all driver roles are assigned properly. A secondary driver can not be a primary driver.

What if an accident happens without occasional driver insurance?

Your insurance policy should cover any costs in the event of an accident only if the driver complies with the following:

  1. Has a valid Canadian driver’s license
  2. Permission from you to drive the car (written or verbal)
  3. Follows the rules in your insurance policy (No Jim, you can’t use my car to deliver pizza)
  4. Wasn’t involved in any illegal activities which resulted in the accident (drunk driving, texting, etc.)

How can you save money on occasional driver insurance?

Naturally, adding a secondary driver to your insurance policy will raise the price of your policy, however, there are ways you can save money. Here are some tips for adding a secondary driver to your policy:

Choose carefully: Be mindful when choosing who to add to your policy. If your boyfriend is a high-risk driver or someone with a poor driving record, I would advise against it.

Compare quotes: Shopping around for car insurance quotes is the best to save money on car insurance.

If you own two cars and your teenage daughter drives your car a few times each week then you will need to add her onto your policy. This may increase the cost of your insurance, sometimes quite significantly, but it’s better than carrying insufficient coverage.

On the other hand, if you are retired and you have a daughter that comes to visit you every three months then you likely wouldn’t need to add her to the policy. It really depends on the frequency with which an occasional driver will be using the vehicle. An insurance agent can give you more specific information about this because each company will have different restrictions regarding additional drivers.

A Different Perspective on Insurance for Additional Drivers

Paying for additional drivers may seem somewhat like a money grab but when you look at it from the insurance company’s perspective it makes sense. If every teenager purchased insurance under his or her parent’s insurance coverage then all of the sudden premiums would rise for everyone. All the other drivers on the road would have to subsidize the higher claim rate of teenaged drivers. Instead insurance companies give parent’s higher insurance premiums when the want to add their children onto their policies. Under some circumstances you may be able to convince your insurer to let your son or daughter be rated as an occasional driver. This is not likely if they are living under the same roof and have access to the insured vehicle at all times.

Breach of Insurance

By not getting the proper insurance coverage for an occasional driver, you could have a claim denied for breach of the terms of the insurance policy. This is just as bad, if not worse, than not carrying any insurance in the first place. If someone else is going to be driving your car then pay for the extra coverage. This way you will have peace of mind that your are properly protected should an accident occur.

Discounts and Savings

There are discounts to be found for occasional driver insurance. For example, Meloche Monnex Insurance has an Occasional Driver’s Premium Reduced discount. You will receive reduced premiums if an occasional driver is currently going to school full-time at an educational institution in another city. This is a fairly common discount so ask your insurance agent about your eligibility when you go to renew your coverage.

If you need to save money on your coverage then consider naming your children as drivers on only one of your vehicles. They will only be allowed to drive that car but your coverage will be cheaper.

Don’t forget about traditional discounts such as owning an anti-theft device, insuring multiple vehicles with the same company, insuring your home and auto insurance with the same company, and keeping a clean driving record. At the end of the day, a clean driving record is the best way to keep your premiums low and your family safe.

One Last Warning

It is crucial to let your insurance company know who will be driving your vehicle – even if they are only occasional drivers. Otherwise your insurance coverage may be canceled, or worse yet, your claim may be denied.

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