You don’t need non-owner car insurance in California to drive someone else’s car occasionally. Their insurance generally will cover you. But if you don’t own a car and frequently borrow other people’s vehicles, you may want a non-owner auto policy to provide a comfortable level of liability coverage. Non-owner car insurance will pay for injuries and property damage to the other party from an accident you’ve caused. It doesn’t cover damage to the car you’ve borrowed or injuries suffered by you or your passengers.
As in other states, California non-owner insurance isn’t intended to cover you if you’re borrowing the car of someone you live with—related or not. Insurance companies require car owners who share your home to list you and cover you on their own policies. If they don’t, insurers don’t have to pay claims for any accident you’re involved in.
If you drive the car of someone who doesn’t live with you, you don’t need to be added to their policy. The car owner’s insurance normally pays out for any accident you cause, anyway. You only need non-owner car insurance if you’re not comfortable with the owner’s liability limits. If losses in an accident are higher than these limits, you will be responsible for the balance yourself. If you have non-owner insurance, it will start paying once the car owner’s coverage is exceeded.
Most large insurers in California offer non-owner car insurance, but it isn’t a mainstream product. You may not be able to get a quote online. You may need to call the company or visit an agent to find out how much a policy will cost and whether it’s worth purchasing.
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