Is It Illegal to Drive Someone Else’s Car Without Insurance?

Most states mandate car insurance in order to drive legally. If you don’t carry coverage when operating someone else’s car, fines, license suspension and even imprisonment could follow.

NerdWallet writers are subject matter experts who conduct both primary and secondary research to answer your queries. We draw our data from expert interviews, government websites and academic studies.


Due to various circumstances, you may find it necessary to borrow someone else’s car on occasion or regularly for various reasons. Perhaps your relationship requires sharing driving duties; perhaps your vehicle has broken down; whatever the case may be, knowing how to safely and legally drive another person’s vehicle is crucial in order to avoid legal complications and ensure you do so responsibly.

First and foremost, ensure the owner of the vehicle has insurance. A simple way of doing this is registering as an authorized driver on their policy; this will give you access to all the coverages the owner provides for their car, including liability protection should an accident occur while you’re driving it. Furthermore, collision and comprehensive policies should provide further protection.

If the owner of a vehicle without coverage fails to carry insurance and an accident occurs, both you and they could suffer significant repercussions. They could face legal action for aiding and abetting your lack of coverage while your license and registration could be suspended by the state and reinstatement fees paid before being allowed back on the roads again.

Some states allow drivers to demonstrate financial responsibility through certificates, bonds or cash deposits in order to avoid penalties associated with operating without insurance policies. Unfortunately, however, this option is only available in Virginia and Alaska – the remainder require all drivers carry liability coverage.

If caught driving without insurance in New York, the likely penalty is a fine. More serious cases could lead to car impounded or jail time; additionally, premiums may increase significantly as insurers view you as high-risk drivers.

Before borrowing a vehicle in any state, it is crucial that you understand its laws and requirements. While most New York residents have automobile insurance, it’s crucial that you confirm with the vehicle owner whether their policy covers borrowing the car for a ride.


No matter if it is borrowed, driven, or rented for vacation use – knowing and understanding non-owner car insurance is of vital importance. Legality for this activity typically relies upon factors like permission from car owner as well as coverage by insurers.

Prior to driving someone else’s car, the primary concern for those seeking permission from its owner should be gaining their explicit approval. This will establish clear understanding between both parties and provide the basis for insurance coverage – otherwise drivers could face severe legal or financial ramifications.

If the vehicle owner provides permission, your personal insurance should provide primary coverage in case of an accident; however, in certain instances the driver’s insurance may provide secondary coverage as well. As adding drivers can increase rates and require explicit permission before proceeding further with coverage options; it is vital to discuss any potential issues beforehand and gain explicit approval prior to adding them as drivers to your policy.

As it should come as no surprise, car owners can opt to exclude you from their policy in order to prevent high-risk behavior affecting their coverage. You will only be covered if the owner explicitly gives permission or has permissive use insurance – something many large car insurers offer.

Permissive use insurance provides for occasional vehicle use by an unnamed driver – typically no more than 12 times annually – usually through smaller providers; but always ensure you review each policy closely for its specific details before purchasing one.

Even with all of the proper permissions and insurance in place, certain circumstances make it illegal to drive someone else’s vehicle without their express permission and insurance in place. In such a situation, this would constitute unlawful use and could incur significant fines or jail time depending on local regulations and laws. There are steps available to you that can help avoid these penalties; furthermore you should also consult local laws and regulations for guidance.


In most states, driving without insurance is illegal. For instance in New York if you get into an accident or traffic infraction while uninsured or allow someone else to do so while driving uninsured (or allowing someone else) they could face up to $1,500 per incident as well as having their license suspended and registration cancelled – plus any fees related to getting back their license after suspension has occurred.

However, when driving another’s vehicle frequently you don’t necessarily require your own coverage. A feature known as permissive use may cover you under their policy; provided they explicitly permit this use. Typically this coverage includes liability, collision and comprehensive coverage along with personal injury protection as well as uninsured motorist coverage.

Other types of coverage such as rideshare or rental car insurance are tailored specifically for these circumstances. You can purchase a non-owner policy to protect you while borrowing other people’s vehicles without altering their rates; but be wary when selecting one of these policies as some may not provide sufficient compensation in the event of an accident that you cause, while others might only cover limited situations, like uninsured motorist coverage.

Sometimes the person whose car you’re borrowing may already have non-owner coverage or another form of protection in place – perhaps through their employer carrying commercial vehicle insurance that applies to all employees, for instance. Some drivers also provide special forms of non-owner coverage they can add on for an extra charge.

Some owners exclude family members from their policies in order to lower premiums, leaving those excluded at greater risk of an accident and insurance companies can deny claims and even sue as a result. It’s therefore essential that owners communicate openly and obtain explicit permission before borrowing another car from strangers – this applies equally for extended family who visit, stay overnight, as well as friends/acquaintances using it for various purposes such as road trips or repairs on their own vehicle.

Local laws

When borrowing a vehicle from friends or family, it is essential to be mindful of local laws which could impede your ability to drive it safely. While laws vary according to state, understanding what might impact driving could prevent potential issues in the future.

Driving without valid insurance policies is illegal in most states and violators could face fines or even have their license and registration suspended – in many cases you may also need to pay reinstatement fees and provide proof of coverage before receiving plates back. Repeat offenders could also have their privileges permanently taken away.

Whenever you borrow cars, your name could end up added as an additional driver on their policy. When this occurs, it’s important to notify their insurer so that there’s enough coverage in case any accidents arise due to you driving their car.

Consideration should also be given to whether or not you are an excluded driver on a policy, since that would void coverage should an accident arise due to your actions and increase rates accordingly. In some instances, an insurance provider might even raise rates as a penalty for adding non-owner drivers onto an owner’s plan.

As well as facing expensive fines and possible arrest, driving an uninsured car is also illegal and could result in arrest by law enforcement if stopped by them. If this happens to you, contact our traffic lawyers immediately for legal help.

Most people don’t hesitate to borrow a vehicle from friends or relatives for an errand without giving much thought, even when using an older model or tight budget. Most drivers just adjust mirrors and seats accordingly before hitting the road – however there are several things you should keep in mind before getting behind the wheel of an unfamiliar car, including: