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Kaitlyn Pintarich

By: Kaitlyn Pintarich on January 10th, 2023

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Do I Need Massachusetts Car Insurance if I Don’t Have a Vehicle?

Personal Auto | Learning Center | Business Auto

Perhaps you live in the city, where public transportation is in abundance. Or maybe you live on a college campus and don’t have access to a car. If this sounds like you, it’s likely at one point or another you’ve found yourself in a situation where you need access to a vehicle.

“But am I covered if I don’t have insurance?” 

“Do I need to buy auto insurance if I don’t own a car?” 

“How much is Massachusetts car insurance if I don’t have a vehicle?”

We get these questions quite a bit at Berry Insurance! Located in Franklin, Massachusetts, we have two T stops and Dean College in our backyard. We’re a commuter-friendly area so we completely understand your needs!

If you will be renting a car from Zipcar or similar car-sharing services, you will likely be buying some insurance through them. However, this coverage is extremely limited. If you are borrowing a car, say from a friend or family member, you will have whatever coverage is on their auto policy, again, which could be very limited. For these situations, we always recommend purchasing a Named Non-Owner Auto Policy. 

Below we’ll talk about what a named non-owner auto policy is, when you would need this policy, what factors affect the cost, and give you some estimates to compare.

What is named non-owner auto insurance?

A “named non-owner auto insurance” policy is basically the same as a typical Massachusetts auto policy, except that it does not specify coverage to just one vehicle. It will provide liability coverage to you for any vehicle you rent or borrow, up to the coverage limits you choose.

Liability coverage provides coverage for bodily injuries or property damage that you are liable for as a result of an auto accident. It will not cover any physical damage coverage to the vehicles you use. This means you will not have any collision, comprehensive, towing or rental reimbursement coverage.

Why would I need non-owner auto insurance?

Let’s say you borrow a friend’s car to visit family for the long weekend. Your friend has auto insurance, but you have no idea how much and never think to check. You get stuck in traffic on your drive, and accidentally rear-end the car in front of you, which in turn rear-ends the car in front of them. 

Uh oh.

You call your friend to get the claim set up with their insurance, and find out that they only have limits of $30,000 per person, $80,000 per accident. You hit a new Tesla causing a lot of damage. Both vehicles involved in the accident have more damage than coverage is available on your friend’s auto insurance policy.

In this situation, the policy that covers your friend’s car is primary, meaning they will pay for the claim first. Once that policy limit is exhausted, anything left to pay would be your responsibility, or if you had a named non-owner policy, would be covered by that policy. 

Here’s a different scenario. 

You live in the city but are heading out of town for a work trip. You need to rent a car to get there. You go online to ZipCar and rent a vehicle. 

On your way back home you switch lanes, not seeing the car next to you and hit them causing significant damage. You call ZipCar to report the claim and find out that under their policy, you only have coverage for “up to the minimum financial responsibility limits required by the law of the jurisdiction in which the accident occurs,” according to your Zipcar membership contract

In this situation, you only have the state minimum limits of $20,000 per person, $40,000 per accident.

With this example, ZipCar’s policy would be primary, and if you had a named non-owner auto policy, that policy would pay anything remaining, up to the policy limits.

Before you rent a car, it's important to know what insurance options are for rented vehicles.  Read up on rental car insurance offered through rental companies and other rental insurance options here: Rental Cars and Auto Insurance: What You Need to Know.

Here’s just one more scenario to consider. 

You drive a car that is registered to a business. This could be your own business, or a business you work for. A commercial auto policy will cover the vehicle and the business liability, but your personal liability would not be covered. Let’s say you drive that business vehicle to do your personal grocery shopping, and on the way, get involved in a car accident. The business policy pays for the damages, but you get sued personally as the driver. Under this situation, you may need a Named Non-Owner policy to provide personal protection. 

Note: Some businesses add “Drive Other Car” coverage to grant personal auto liability protection to employees that have commercial vehicles. This would be up to your employer. But you should be aware that this coverage will only protect you, and not a spouse or child that drives as well.

With a named non-owner insurance policy, you would be able to choose your own insurance coverages, making sure that whatever situation you are in, you are covered and protected how you want to be. Basically, a Named Non-Owner Auto Policy gives you choice, and the peace of mind in knowing that you have coverage when you need it.

Non-owner auto insurance: when you don’t need it

Knowing when you need to buy a policy is just as important to know when you don’t. If either of these apply to you, you do not need to buy a named non-owner auto insurance policy:

  • You own a car: If you own a car, you would buy a regular Massachusetts Auto Policy to cover that vehicle and your liability.
  • You are the Named Insured on a Massachusetts Auto Policy: Perhaps your significant other owns a car and you don’t. But both of you are “named insureds” on the auto policy. If that is the case, you likely do not need a separate policy.

What does non-owner auto insurance cost?

Several factors are considered when determining the cost of a named non-owner auto insurance policy. Those include:

  • Where you live
  • Your driving experience/record
  • Will there be other authorized drivers?
  • Coverages/limits chosen
  • Eligibility of discounts (i.e. AAA member, multi-policy, etc.)
  • Prior auto insurance coverage (some insurance carriers will charge more for individuals who have never had auto insurance)

On average, a named non-owner auto insurance policy could cost between $300-$800 or more depending on your situation.

Note: Most insurance carriers will not issue a named non-owner auto policy without you purchasing another policy. This could be renters, condo or homeowners insurance, depending upon your situation. 

Let’s look at a few cost examples: 

  • An individual living in Cambridge, MA with a step 99 driving record, and choosing $250,000 per person and $500,000 per accident liability coverage limits would pay around $350 per year.
  • A husband and wife living in Quincy, MA, with step 99 and 00 driving records and choosing $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident would pay around $625 per year.
  • An individual living in Boston, MA with a step 99 driving record, and choosing $250,000 per person and $500,000 per accident liability coverage limits would pay around $400 per year.
  • A husband and wife living in Foxboro, MA, both with step 99 driving records and choosing $250,000 per person and $500,000 per accident would pay around $725 per year.

What do I need to apply for non-owner auto?

Most insurance carriers in MA will require you to have a MA license and six years of driving experience to get a non-owner policy.

Also, you probably won’t be able to get just a non-owner policy alone. Most carriers require you to bundle it with another policy, such as home, condo, or renter’s insurance. 

Non-owner auto insurance: is it right for you?

Well, It depends. 

If you will only drive rental cars, and are prepared to cover an accident with the lesser coverage the rental company offers, you may not need it. But if you’re not prepared to take on these costs, it’s probably the right choice for you.

If you plan to borrow cars, you really should consider purchasing a named non-owner insurance policy, to provide you with liability protection in case you are involved in an accident and are sued as a result.

In either situation, leaving yourself without this coverage could be putting yourself at risk for uncovered claims or lawsuits. Interested in learning who are the best non-owner insurance providers? Find the right policy for you by checking out this article on what carriers we recommend: Top 4 Non-owner Auto Insurance Carriers in MA