If you don't own a car but still drive often, a non-owner car insurance policy may be a wise purchase.

When you drive someone else’s car, the owner’s auto insurance policy should cover you, assuming you're using the car with the owner’s permission. However, if you get into an accident and the damages exceed the amount specified by the owner’s liability coverage, you may be on the hook for a significant amount of money.

When this happens, the injured party could come after your personal assets – including your savings and home – to recover the rest. Non-owner insurance can help protect you by increasing the amount of your total coverage.

Non-owner insurance can also be helpful if you will be without a car for a period – say, for spending a year abroad – and want to maintain continuous insurance coverage to prevent higher rates in the future. (Insurers typically charge higher rates if your insurance coverage has lapsed recently.)

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Non-owner SR22 insurance

If you don’t own a car but your high-risk driver profile requires you to file a proof-of-insurance certificate with your state – such as an SR-22 or FR-44 – a non-owner policy can fulfill the liability coverage requirement you need to keep your driver’s license.

There may even be instances of needing a non-owner policy when you actually own a vehicle. If you're happy with your current auto insurance carrier, but find yourself in need of a state filing -- such as an SR-22 or FR-44 -- and your current carrier doesn't offer them, you can take out an additional policy just to satisfy the state's requirement. These supplementary policies are generally inexpensive as they don't cover your vehicle and can be set to your state's minimum requirements.

Non Owner Car Insurance

What non-owner car insurance covers?

A non-owner insurance policy focuses mainly on providing you with bodily injury and property damage liability coverage. Some car insurance companies also offer medical payments and uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage as part of their non-owner car insurance policies.

Optional coverage types, such as comprehensive, collision, towing reimbursement, and rental reimbursement, are not available with non-owner policies since there is no vehicle attached to the policy. There are typically no deductibles associated with non-owner car insurance.

Your non-owner auto insurance may cover you when you rent a vehicle and get into an accident. However, not all non-owner policies extend coverage to rental vehicles, so check the fine print of the policy before buying if you expect to rent cars.

If you borrow someone's car and crash it, the vehicle owner's car insurance pays out first. If it's not enough to cover damages, your non-owner policy would then pay out as secondary coverage – provided your policy’s liability limit is high enough. For the non-owner policy to kick in as secondary coverage, its liability limit has to be higher than the car owner’s liability limit.

For instance, if the car owner's liability limit is $10,000 for property damage, and you cause $17,000 in property damage in an accident, your non-owner insurance would cover only the last $7,000 – provided your liability limit is at least $17,000.

Remember, however, that this pays for the car that you hit, not your friend’s car or your rental vehicle. A non-owner policy doesn’t include collision coverage, so it won’t cover repairs to the vehicle you were driving.

How much does non-owners insurance cost?

The average cost is $474, based on an expert analysis of rates by Insure.com's staff.

A non-owners policy costs significantly less than a typical insurance policy. That's because non-owner drivers typically drive less than drivers who own their own vehicle, reducing the chances they'll be in a wreck, Shore says.

There are huge cost differences depending on state. Here are the most expensive and least expensive state averages for non-owner car insurance:

Most expensive

  • New Jersey -- $1,090
  • Michigan -- $1,073
  • Rhode Island -- $972

Least expensive

  • Wisconsin -- $171
  • South Dakota -- $235
  • Iowa -- $246

The costs of a non-owner policy also varies by community. Here are the average differences in California, where the state average is $286.

CityAverage non-owner car insurance cost in major California cities
Chula Vista$238
Garden Grove$293
Huntington Beach$301
Long Beach$304
Los Angeles$351
San Bernardino$298
San Diego$243
San Francisco$282
San Jose$248
Santa Ana$306
Santa Clarita$305
Santa Rosa$246

Here are the averages by city in Florida, where the state average is $902. 

How can I get car insurance without a car?

To buy insurance without a car, you must have a valid driver’s license and not own a car. Most insurers also mandate that you don’t have regular access to a car, for instance one owned by another member of your household. If someone in your home has a vehicle, you should get listed as a driver on that auto insurance policy if possible. As with a conventional policy, it’s wise to compare car insurance quotes before buying a non-owner insurance policy. You should compare non-owners car insurance quotes from at least three carriers, to see who has the cheapest price for the coverage you want.

Get non-owner car insurance quotes

While non-owner insurance is generally cheaper than conventional policies, there are still significant price variations between carriers, particularly if you have a less-than-perfect driving record. Non-owner car insurance companies. You'll see below how major carriers compare on costs for non-owner policies.

CityAverage non-owner car insurance cost in major Florida cities
Boynton Beach$1,099
Daytona Beach$699
Fort Lauderdale$949
Pembroke Pines$1,043
St. Petersburg$909
CompanyNon-owner average annual rate
State Farm$408

In addition to those included in the table above, the following insurance companies also offer non-owner coverage:

  • Dairyland
  • The General
  • Safe Auto
  • Direct
  • Infinity

Do you need insurance to drive someone else’s car?

In general, you do not need insurance to drive someone else’s car, as long as you have permission to drive it and you only drive it occasionally. In such cases, accidents would be covered by the car owner’s policy. So, for example, if your friend lets you drive her car, and you don’t have insurance, your friend’s car insurance coverage would pay out for damage you cause to another vehicle or property, and for medical bills of those injured in an accident you cause. If your friend has optional collision insurance, that would pay for damage to her car, regardless of fault. If the owner of the car you’re driving has optional comprehensive insurance, that would cover damaged from hail, flooding, fire, falling objects and vandalism. Comprehensive also covers theft and animal strikes. However, if you share a home with someone who has a car that you borrow, you may need to be listed as a driver on the car owner’s policy. The insurance company may not cover an accident you cause while driving a car that you borrowed from someone living in the same household.

Do you need insurance if you have a license but no car?

Licensed drivers who don’t own a car don’t need insurance. If you drive someone else’s car with their permission and cause an accident, the car owner’s insurance will cover it. Also, if you frequently rent or borrow cars, you may want to consider buying non-owners insurance, to increase the amount of protection you have. Non-owner liability car insurance will kick in if you get into an accident and the damages exceed the amount specified by the owner’s liability coverage.