Occasional Driver

Sometimes having a car can make you very popular. When you get a car, all of a sudden you’ll start getting calls from friends who want a ride to the airport, or who want you to take them to IKEA. When you get sick of playing chauffeur, you might decide to loan your car to your most trustworthy friends. But does that mean you need to add them to your insurance? And what happens if they get in an accident while driving? And what if a family member borrows the car on a regular basis? Does that change things?

All these details can be overwhelming. If you’re trying to determine who can and can’t drive your car, keep reading! We explain everything below.

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, neighbors 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.