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How to add non-family members to your auto insurance policy

Sept. 2, 2022
5 mins
A man and woman looked concerned at paperwork as they sit at a table

Most drivers know they’ll need to add family members — like a spouse, or a child who just got their driver’s licence — to their car insurance policy as a regular driver. But whether to add non-family members can feel a bit murky.

We break down when you need to add a non-family member, how to do so, and what that will mean for your car insurance premium.

When should I add a non-family member to my auto insurance?

Anyone who’s living in your household for an extended period of time who regularly uses your vehicle should be added to your car insurance policy as a secondary driver. So, if you’re living with a friend or roommate, or have a live-in nanny who uses your car, they need to be added to your policy.

In Ontario, anyone in your household with a valid driver’s licence should be added to your policy as a secondary driver, even if they have their own car and insurance policy.

According to Kelsey Hawke, an insurance expert with RATESDOTCA and licensed insurance broker, your insurance company should be aware of any licensed drivers in your household who don’t have a car and/or insurance policy of their own.

“If they have access to the vehicle, even though maybe they’re not going to be using it that often, it’s important you notify the insurance company that someone licensed is in the home,” says Hawke, so your provider can accurately assess the risk of insuring you.

Can I add a driver who doesn’t live with me to my car insurance policy?

When adding a regular driver to your car insurance policy, you aren’t limited to people who live in your house. The key factor is how often they use your vehicle: an insurance policy’s definition of a regular driver is someone who will use your car over a sustained period.

For example, you would need to add a friend who borrows your car once every week or two to do groceries, an employee who does regular work errands with your vehicle, or a nanny who uses your vehicle to pick up your kids from school during the weekdays. But you wouldn’t need to add a neighbour who borrows your car once a year while theirs is getting a tune-up.

What happens to my auto insurance premium when I add a non-family member to my policy?

When you add a secondary driver, you may see a surcharge on your auto insurance premium, but Hawke says this varies depending on the insurance company.

Some won’t raise your premium if the person you’re adding has a good driving record with no history of accidents or tickets, and has their full G licence, while some may apply a surcharge for any new driver added, regardless of their history. If you’re adding someone to your policy who has a past accident or conviction, the policy will be surcharged accordingly.

If your premium rises, shop around to see what other providers are willing to offer you for the same coverage. Comparing secondary driver insurance rates from multiple providers is one of the simplest and most efficient ways to avoid overpaying for insurance.

Hawke says you should remember that when you lend your vehicle to someone, you’re also lending them your insurance. Depending on the province you live in, if a secondary driver gets into a “rateable” accident while driving your car (meaning an accident that results in an increase to your premium) and are later removed from your policy, the record of the accident may stick with you, and not follow them to their next policy.

“It’s important that drivers vet who they’re putting on their policy,” says Hawke.

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Kelsey Rolfe

Kelsey Rolfe is a freelance journalist and editor based in Toronto. Her work has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Maisonneuve Magazine and TVO, among others. She's generally pretty good at budgeting and saving, but can't seem to stop impulse buying books.

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