Can I insure a car I don't own?

Written by Steve Cook

Published on

We all know that to drive a vehicle in the UK, you need the right type of insurance. But what happens if you’re planning to drive a car that you don’t own?

In this guide, we’ll explore the topic in detail, and tell you about the different types of insurance cover available to you.

First, let’s start with the short answer…

Can I insure a car I don't own?

Can you insure a car you don’t own?

Yes, it is possible to insure a car that you don't actually own. To do this, you could be added as a named driver to the car owner’s existing policy, you could take out your own short-term or temporary cover, or you might be able to use a “driving other cars” extension for third-party cover (if your insurer allows it).

However, some insurance providers may restrict non-owner insurance to certain situations, like only allowing you to insure your partner's, spouse's or parent's car.

So, before you buy a policy or arrange insurance to drive a car you don’t own, it's important to check with the insurer to make sure you’re getting the right cover for your needs.

Let’s take a look at your options in more detail.

Becoming a named driver

One of the easiest ways to get insured on a car you don't own is to become a named driver. To do this, first you’ll need to get permission from the vehicle owner to be added to their policy.

Being added as a named driver allows you to drive the car under the terms of that particular insurance policy. There’s usually a small administration fee to pay, but overall it’s a cost-effective and convenient way to get covered, especially if you’ll be driving the vehicle on a fairly regular basis.

That said, it's important to know that the main policyholder will probably see their insurance price go up, especially if you’re a young or inexperienced driver.

A few things to consider with named driver insurance

  • Be sure to declare (with full honesty) who the main driver is. “Fronting” (putting yourself as a named driver when you'll actually be the main driver) is illegal in the UK.
  • Your age, driving history and relationship to the policyholder will impact the price of their policy.
  • Being a named driver is often cheaper than temporary cover for regular, ongoing use of someone else's car.
  • But, if you only intend to drive the car once, or very occasionally, a short-term insurance policy may work out cheaper.
  • The owner's no claims bonus may be affected by any claims you make as a named driver.

So, being added as a named driver allows you to get insured on someone else's car relatively easily. Just be aware that it is likely to increase the owner's premiums, so balance this cost against how much you intend to use it.

Taking out your own policy

Some insurers will allow you to take out a completely separate policy on a car you don't own, as long as you tell them you’re not the registered keeper or legal owner of the vehicle when you apply for the policy.

This type of policy allows you to drive the non-owned car as the main policyholder and primary driver. But, it's important that the actual owner still has their own underlying insurance policy on the car, as they’ll need this to comply with continuous insurance laws.

Insurers often charge a higher premium for policies where the main driver is not the registered keeper. That’s because you are likely to be seen as a higher risk compared to driving a car that’s yours.

As always, be sure to compare policies with a few different insurance companies to find the most competitive price for the cover you need.

Arranging temporary or short-term cover

If you only need to insure a car you're borrowing for a short period of time, a temporary or short-term policy could be a cost-effective option. Short-term car insurance usually provides cover from just 1 hour up to 28 days. This allows you to get insured on a non-owned car only when you need it, without paying for expensive ongoing policy costs.

So, if you’re planning to borrow a friend's or family member's car for just a day or a one-off trip, consider a temporary or short-term insurance policy.

Driving Other Cars extension

Some fully comprehensive car insurance policies include a Driving Other Cars (DOC) extension. It provides third party cover for driving vehicles that you don’t own.

However, in recent years this benefit has become increasingly rare. And, even when it is included, it usually only applies to drivers over the age of 25 with a clean driving history.

If you’re looking for a policy that includes a DOC extension, be sure to check the terms and inclusions of your cover carefully to make sure you have the level of protection you need. In most cases, a DOC extension will only provide third party cover, not fully comprehensive.

Key points to remember:

  • There are a few options for insuring a car you don't personally own
  • Becoming a named driver on the owner's policy is often the simplest route
  • Or you can take out a separate policy for a non-owned car, if your insurer allows it
  • Short-term cover works well for temporary or one-off use of a car
  • Check if your comprehensive insurance has a 'driving other cars' extension
  • Premiums are usually higher than insuring a car you do own
  • Shop around to find an insurer willing to cover you as a non-owner

Frequently asked questions

What information will I need to get insured?

Even if you don't own the car, you'll still need to provide details about both yourself and the vehicle when applying for insurance.

For your personal details, you'll need information like your full name, date of birth, address, driving licence number, occupation, and claims/conviction history.

For the car, you'll need the make, model, registration number, year of manufacture, engine size, estimated annual mileage, and details or where it’s parked overnight.

The owner of the vehicle will also need to give formal consent for you to take out insurance on their car. Some insurers may request proof of this. If you'll be driving the car regularly, also think about your usage needs — will you need comprehensive cover with extras like breakdown assistance? Or is third party cover enough? This will help determine the right policy for you.

Why does non-owner car insurance cost more?

Drivers who insure a car they don’t own are often perceived as higher risk than drivers who are insured on their own vehicle. That’s because there’s usually an assumption that you may take less care of a car that doesn't belong to you.

Statistics also show that younger drivers are more likely to need non-owner insurance, and they already pay higher premiums due to their inexperience.

Unfortunately, that means insurers will usually charge more to cover you to drive someone else's car. 

Can I get car insurance if I'm not the registered keeper?

Yes, you can take out insurance on a car you don't own in the UK, as long as you tell the insurer upfront that you’re not the registered keeper or legal owner. Options include becoming a named driver, taking out your own separate policy, or getting temporary cover. However, some insurers may restrict non-owner policies.

How can I insure a van I don't own in the UK?

To insure a van that you don’t own, you can become a named driver on the owner’s existing policy, take out your own policy (if the insurer allows it), or get temporary van insurance. Just be sure to let the insurer know that you're not the registered keeper when applying.

What's the difference between the registered keeper and owner of a car?

The registered keeper is responsible for the car, and will be named on the V5C logbook, while the owner is the person who actually bought the vehicle. They can be different people — you can register as the keeper without being the legal owner. And both usually need insurance.

How can I insure someone else's car as the main driver?

To insure a car you don't own, you can take out your own policy, as long as the insurer agrees to cover non-owners. Be sure to state you're not the registered keeper or owner when applying. Adding yourself as a named driver on the existing policy is another option.

How can I get business van insurance if I'm not the registered keeper?

Although you don't need to own a van to insure it, some insurers may be reluctant to provide cover unless you're the registered keeper. However, you can apply to take out a non-owner occupational policy. Just be sure to let the insurer know that you won't be the van's legal owner.

Alternatively, look into short-term business van insurance for temporary driving. By shopping around, you should be able to get insured for business van use, even if you’re not the official owner.

Is it illegal to insure a car in someone else's name?

When applying for an insurance policy, it’s important to be honest about who the main driver or owner is. Intentionally putting yourself as a named driver, when you're actually the main driver (known as "fronting") is illegal in the UK. So be upfront if you'll be the primary user of the car.

Why does non-owner insurance cost more?

Insurers often calculate a higher risk when covering someone who drives a vehicle they don't own. Statistics show younger drivers are more likely to need non-owner policies, and they already pay higher premiums due to inexperience. So costs are often higher.

What temporary cover can I get for borrowing a car?

Short-term insurance, ranging from just a few hours to 28 days, can provide affordable cover for using someone else's car on a temporary basis. This avoids the ongoing costs of an annual policy when you only need occasional access to a vehicle.

Can I drive any car with fully comprehensive insurance?

Most comprehensive policies don't automatically cover you for driving other cars. But some policies still include a 'driving other cars' extension, which offers third party cover for drivers aged 25 or older. Check your documents to see if your insurer offers this benefit.