As a vehicle owner, you understand that you are required by law to purchase mandatory insurance for your vehicle. But what about other people who drive your vehicle; are they properly insured? There are some strict rules about how and when you need to add other drivers to your policy. In this article, we’ll explore the secondary driver insurance rules in Ontario.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does secondary driver mean on insurance?
When you purchased your insurance, you were likely added as the primary driver on the policy. The primary driver is just that; the person who drives the vehicle most of the time.
Anyone else who drives the vehicle regularly is considered a secondary driver. So, what does secondary driver mean on your insurance policy?
A secondary driver is anyone who drives your car regularly. Regularly includes a younger driver in the household who occasionally takes mom’s car to the movies or uses it to pick up a date. It also includes a neighbour or roommate who borrows the vehicle every week or so to go grocery shopping. Similarly, a nanny who drops the kids off at daycare is a secondary driver, as is a grandmother who drives it to church every Sunday.
It is also expected that any licensed driver living in your household be added to your coverage unless they are explicitly excluded from your policy or are insured under a different policy assigned to another vehicle.
Here’s who is not considered a secondary driver; a friend who borrows your car because theirs is in the shop or a visitor from out of town who wants to borrow your car to visit a local tourist attraction. A secondary driver is also not the reliable buddy who drives you home because you drank too much at a party or a friend who takes a driving shift on a long road trip.
When determining who should be considered a secondary driver, the key word is “regularly.” While the term doesn’t have a precise definition, a rule of thumb is that anyone who drives a vehicle once a month or more should probably be added as a secondary driver.
How do secondary driver insurance rules in Ontario work?
If you add a second driver to your insurance contract, they will have the full protection offered by your insurance policy.
Adding a secondary driver is easy. Simply call your insurance professional and provide them with the details of the new driver. They will usually ask for the following information:
- Address if they don’t live in your home
- Date of birth
- Driver’s license number
- How often they will drive the vehicle
- Any tickets they have received in the past three years or accidents the driver has experienced in the past decade
There may be a cost to adding a secondary driver to your policy. Statistically, the more a vehicle is driven, the more likely it will be involved in an accident. However, there is not always an extra charge for adding a secondary driver. If their driving record is equal to or better than the primary driver’s, there will be no additional charge.
If and how much an additional driver will increase your premium depends on a number of things, including:
- Age (younger drivers pay more than older drivers)
- Experience of the driver (new drivers pay more than those with experience)
- Driving record (traffic tickets will increase the cost)
- Accidents (accidents will also increase the premium charged)
There are huge downsides if you don’t add a regular driver of your vehicle as a secondary driver. If the driver has an accident and the claims investigation reveals that they were a regular driver of your car, the insurance company can refuse to pay the claim, citing insurance fraud. They may also argue that there was a material change in risk from the one they agreed to insure.
Your insurance company may still agree to pay all or portions of the claim. But depending on the circumstances of the claim and how recent the secondary individual started driving your vehicle, your insurer could cancel your insurance, making it much more challenging to purchase a new policy at a reasonable price.
The long and the short of it is that if you have any concerns about whether an occasional driver of your vehicle should be added as an additional driver, speak to an insurance professional and take their advice.
Can someone drive my car if they are not on my insurance policy?
Every vehicle owner is free to lend their vehicle to anyone they wish, understanding that someone who is deemed a secondary driver should be added to their insurance policy.
Your insurance policy covers the car and any legally licensed individual driving it, including the occasional friend, relative, co-worker or neighbour. In the event of an accident, they will receive the full coverage offered by your car insurance policy.
Be forewarned that there are rules regarding business use of the vehicle and its use as part of the gig economy, such as ride-sharing, food delivery services and other pursuits that require using your vehicle. There are insurance solutions for these activities, but before you start working for one of the services, it’s important that you speak to your insurance provider.
According to the secondary driver insurance rules in Ontario, what happens when a driver has an accident?
If someone listed as a secondary driver on your policy experiences a *covered accident, they will be fully protected by every aspect of your insurance policy, including the mandatory coverages such as accident benefits, third-party liability, direct compensation – property damage and uninsured auto coverage. They will also be protected by any optional coverages you may have added to your policy such as collision coverage and comprehensive insurance.
*It’s important to remember that motorists breaking the law, like driving without a valid licence or while impaired by drugs or alcohol, risk insurers denying an accident claim and your insurance company cancelling your policy.
In the event of an accident, your policy deductibles and limits will apply to the claim, and any payment will be made to the named insured listed on the policy.
It is important to understand that any accident or claim made while the vehicle is being driven by an occasional driver or additional named insured may affect your insurance policy’s premium, including the loss of any claims free discounts or credits.
While every vehicle owner in Ontario has the right to lend their vehicle to anyone they wish, it’s crucial that regular drivers of the vehicle be added as a secondary driver to your insurance policy. When in doubt, speak to an insurance professional.