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Driver’s test in a borrowed car: Whose insurance?


I want to get a driver’s license, but I don’t have a car. I think I
need to show proof of insurance for this. Do I need to buy
insurance to cover my friend’s car that I am borrowing to take the
road exam? She already has insurance on it herself.


State laws vary, but typically before being allowed to take a road
test to qualify for your driver’s license you’ll indeed be required
to show proof of car insurance. However, a policy of your own may
not be needed since you’re borrowing an insured vehicle – as long
as that insurance extends to you and your state doesn’t
specifically require insurance to be in your name.

When you don’t own a car or have an insured household vehicle
available for the driving test, your options usually are to rent a
car or borrow a vehicle. You have chosen the latter. (

will normally use a parent’s car and should be covered by the
household policy by this point in the licensing process)

When borrowing a car, it’s important to know that auto insurance
follows a car and not driver. So, while you could purchase a
non-owner policy

, it would provide only secondary coverage to the car owner’s
primary auto insurance coverage.

The car owner’s policy is what would cover a car accident that
occurred during the road test, thus making it vital for the car
owner to make certain that her auto insurance policy extends to

Most car insurance policies will cover
permissive drivers

, but your friend should review her policy to verify this. 
She should confirm that her policy doesn’t have any

or restrictions that could prevent her insurance from covering you.
(See “Gotchas of a cheap car insurance.”) 

Also, if you’re going to be regularly driving her car, she
should check with her agent to see if she’s required to add you as
an occasional driver to the policy for you to be properly

Making sure that the car owner’s policy extends to you for the
road test is one step. The next step is to find out what exact
proof of insurance you need to show for the road test.  (Find
a link to your state’s licensing office department here.)

Many states are similar to California, which requires that
before your driving test begins you must prove the car is property
insured by one of the following means:

  • A document with the liability insurance policy or surety bond
  • An Assigned Risk insurance card with the name of the assigned
    insurance company, file number, and current coverage dates.
  • Current insurance binder or copy of an insurance policy
    signed or countersigned by an insurance company
  • Rental car contract if the driver is listed on the contract
    as the insured.
  • DMV-issued certificate of self-insurance or acknowledgment of
    cash deposit.
  • Written confirmation from the insurer that the person is

And then there are other states, such as North Carolina, where
to obtain a license you need your own car insurance.

In North Carolina, when you’re applying for an original license
— or restoring a license after a suspension or revocation or
obtaining a limited driving privilege license from the court — the
law requires that you submit proof of auto insurance by means of an
original liability insurance policy with your name on it (or form
DL-123 can be used by an insurer to verify information).

This state does allow that if you don’t own a car that you can
obtain a certification of exemption (form DL-123A), but then you’re
restricted to driving only fleet vehicles.  If you plan to
borrow cars to drive, it’s better to obtain a non-owner’s policy
and file a DL-123 with the state than claim an exemption.

For your driving test, confirm with your state’s licensing
office what type of insurance is needed.  If you find that you
must have insurance on yourself to obtain a license, then a
non-owner’s policy would be necessary. Otherwise, it’s not
essential – but could come in handy if you plan on borrowing cars
from time to time to get around.

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