Primary vs. Occasional Driver
The first step is learning the difference between a primary driver and an occasional driver. The primary driver of a vehicle is usually the person who purchases the automobile and buys an auto insurance policy. The primary driver operates the vehicle most of the time. For example, he or she may drive the vehicle to work or school on a daily basis.
The occasional driver (also known as the secondary driver) also drives the vehicle, but this person only does so on an occasional basis. The occasional driver must operate the vehicle less than 50 percent of the time. An example of a secondary driver is the car owner's child. The primary driver drives the car to work on a regular basis, but the secondary driver may only use it to run errands on the weekends.
Who Needs to Be Added as an Occasional Driver?
You do not need to add someone as an occasional driver until they start driving your car on a regular basis. For example, your friend may need to borrow your vehicle to pick up her child at school one day, but she may not need to do this again for several months. This would be known as an "incidental" use of the vehicle. In this case, she does not need to be added to your policy.
If this friend has to borrow your car every Tuesday and Thursday to pick up her child from school, this is known as "regular" use, and this friend is considered a secondary driver. She needs to be added to your insurance policy.
Several people can be added to an insurance policy in Canada as people who drive the car occasionally, and they include the following:
- People who are not driving the vehicle on a daily basis
- Members of your family
- Your friends, neighbours or roommates
- Your underage children
- Your spouse or partner
When do I need to add occasional drivers to my policy?
Children must be added to your policy if they drive your vehicle on a regular basis. However, in Ontario, you do not need to add your child until they have their G2 license.
You can allow your friends to borrow your vehicle on occasion without adding them to your policy, but they must be licensed drivers. When your friends become regular drivers of your car, you will need to add them to your car insurance policy.
Anyone not listed on your car insurance policy can drive your vehicle if you give that person permission to do so, and your auto insurance company will continue to cover your vehicle no matter who is driving it.
Who should I avoid adding as an occasional driver?
Keep in mind that any person you add to your occasional driver insurance policy should be someone you trust and know to be responsible. They should also have a history of good driving. If you were to add someone to your policy with a poor driving record and you neglect to inform the insurance company of that fact, the insurance company would be within its rights to deny any claims made on that driver's behalf. If you are aware that a driver had several accidents or tickets in the past, it would be wise not to add this person to your occasional driver insurance coverage.
How much does it cost to add a driver who uses the car on an occasional basis?
When you add someone to your insurance policy, you will be required to pay a higher premium. The rate your premium increases will vary depending on your policy and which insurance company you are with. If the person you wish to add to your policy has a good driving record, the insurance company will not necessarily charge you a large amount of money to add this person. If, on the other hand, you are adding a new and inexperienced driver or someone with a bad driving record, your rates could increase.
The factors that can affect the rate increase include:
- The person's driving history
- Whether or not there are any fines and/or tickets on his or her record
- The driver's history as an insured driver
- The driver's age and experience
Adding an occasional driver to your policy can increase your rates, but a broker can help mitigate those costs. Insurance companies offer their clients many types of insurance discounts. Brokers shop around different insurance companies to find you the best rate and best coverage. Along with your broker, you can choose the plan you want. There may also be discounts and promotions available to you that lower your rates even further. Each person may qualify for different discounts, and when you put them all together, it may reduce the premium you will be required to pay significantly.
What kind of discounts are available?
Your insurance company may be able to offer you some of the following discounts to lower your premiums:
- Winter Tires Discount: If you install winter tires on your vehicle, your insurance company may give you a discount.
- Graduated License Discount: The graduated license system entitles drivers to a discount. If you are adding your teenagers to your policy, your rates are going to increase because of the additional risks that teenagers add to a policy. If your teens don't have any chargeable convictions and haven't caused any accidents when they obtained their Class G2 licenses, you may be able to obtain a 10 percent discount.
- Driver Training Discount: If the person you wish to add to your insurance coverage completed a recognized training program for new drivers, your insurance company may reduce your premium. Note that the training must have been completed within three years prior.
- Mature Driver Discount: If the person you would like to add to your policy is 50 years of age or older and has a good driving record, you may qualify for the mature driver discount.
What if a Person Who Drives Occasionally Gets into an Accident?
If you add a person to your car insurance policy and give him or her permission to drive your vehicle occasionally, he or she will be covered by your insurance company if he or she is involved in a car collision. The person must have a valid driver's license, and he or she must not have been engaging in illegal activity when the accident occurred. If the collision is caused by the person who drives your vehicle occasionally, your insurance company will raise your rates.
If someone borrowed your car and they are not listed as an occasional driver, your insurance company will still cover the damages. The driver will be required to meet the following qualifications:
- The driver must have a Canadian driver's license
- You must have given the person permission to drive your vehicle
- The driver must follow the rules of your policy
- The person must not have been driving recklessly or in an impaired or distracted state
What if the occasional driver gets a ticket?
Tickets follow people, not cars. If someone other than you gets a speeding ticket while driving your car, all the repercussions will fall on them.
However, you should still exercise care when choosing who to lend your vehicle to. In Ontario, police can impound your vehicle if you are driving too fast. This means your car would be towed and put in an impound lot. If your friend refuses to reimburse you for these costs, you’ll be on the hook if you want your car back.
Need to add a driver to your policy?
If you need to add someone to your policy, remove someone, or if you have further questions, don’t hesitate to contact us. BrokerLink brokers are always standing by to answer any insurance related questions you may have.
Occasional Driver Insurance FAQ's
What is the difference between an occasional and secondary driver?
An occasional driver is someone who only borrows your car now and then. For example, to pick up a friend at the airport. Secondary drivers are people who drive your car on a semi-regular basis. Maybe they use it every Sunday to take their family to the beach or twice a week to take an elderly neighbour to the supermarket. If this is the case, their names would need to be added to your insurance policy.
Can someone drive your car if they are not on your insurance?
Provided someone is properly qualified and they have your permission, anyone can drive your car, even if they are not listed on your insurance. It is up to you to make sure they have a license and have not been banned from driving. Keep in mind: it would not be wise to lend your car to someone who has a poor driving record.
Will adding a driver increase insurance?
Adding a driver will usually increase your insurance. How much your rate will increase depends on a few things. If they have lots of driving experience and no history of accidents, your rate probably won't increase much. Adding inexperienced or young drivers to a policy will cost more. Your broker will shop around for the best deal and tell you how much more you will have to pay before you add anyone extra to your policy.