AUTO INSURANCE: Does It Follow the Vehicle or the Driver?


Vehicle insurance is so ubiquitous, many of us take it for granted. You may not even know for sure if your policy follows you or the automobile! While it does vary across different regions, there are a few simple rules of thumb you can follow. Don’t be left in the dark! Illuminate yourself with the following advice from the professionals here at Capital Insurance.

Car or Driver?

Simply put, in most provinces and most policies the insurance covers the car. In most cases, it usually falls to the person whose name is on the policy to decide whether or not a driver has permission to operate the insured vehicle.

Permissive vs Non-Permissive

To understand what is allowed and who can use your vehicle, an insurer will break the usage down into two categories: permissive and non-permissive. If you claim that the incident was “permissive” (you allowed the driver to operate the vehicle) your insurance policy will often proceed almost as if you were behind the wheel.

Permission is hard to prove, but if you can make it clear you did not allow the vehicle’s use or were not able to– you may be able to claim that it was against your wishes. Verified theft of the vehicle or incapacitation of the policyholder might be two examples of non-permissive use.


Even in non-permissive case, your insurance coverage may need to step in to pay for certain liabilities. If a vehicle was taken against the policyholder’s wishes or by a household member excluded from the coverage, that individual would be held responsible for any damage or injury caused should the worst happen. As for the repairs to your vehicle, your insurer will likely have to cover any issues caused by the unpermitted driver (as it would if stolen).

In permissive cases, your approved driver would have the same liability protection as you would when operating the same vehicle. Beware: every policy is different; always review your coverage to know what it does and does not cover.

The above guide is only a summary of the intricate field of vehicle insurance. Each insurer has their own standards and they may even vary from policy to policy (often dependent on driving records). If you have questions or concerns, make Capital Insurance your first call! Our independent brokers will go the extra mile to ensure that you get the best deal and– more importantly– that you fully understand your vehicle insurance policy in all situations.