What Is a Permissive User on a Car Insurance Policy?

Car insurance can be valuable in the aftermath of a car accident, but it is important to understand who will be covered in the event an accident occurs. While it is generally understood that a person named on an insurance policy is covered in the event a crash occurs, it is not always as clear about what happens if somebody else is driving your vehicle and a crash occurs. Understanding the concept of “permissive user” is an important part of the car accident settlement process.

What Is a Permissive User on a Car Insurance Policy?

What does “permissive user” mean?

Most people who own a car are not the only ones who actually drive that car. This can become complicated when it comes to insurance carriers in the aftermath of an accident. If the policyholder is the one that is involved in an accident, there are usually no complications beyond normal insurance difficulties. However, when a non-policyholder gets into an accident, the situation can become more complicated.

In most cases, insurance policies will cover the policyholder’s “household members.” Policies typically define household members as somebody living in your house that is related to you by blood, marriage, or adoption. In order for a non-relative roommate to be covered, you should check with your insurance company to see if they count as household members. In general, policyholders should specifically list anyone who regularly uses their vehicle on the policy by name if they are not already considered “household members” on the policy.

“Permissive use” in a car insurance policy means that you overtly or tacitly allow another person not covered under the policy to operate your vehicle. For example, if a friend needs to borrow your car to drive to the store, this is considered permissive use because you have given them permission to use the vehicle. However, not all insurance policies cover permissive use and some that do may only provide limited coverage for permissive users.

Under Oregon law (ORS 806.080 Insurance), insurance carriers are required to ensure cover any person who uses the motor vehicle named in the policy if they are using the vehicle with the consent of the policyholder.

However, there may be various exceptions to the coverage extended to permissive users. In general, permissive use coverage may not apply if the driver in question is unlicensed. In these cases, the insurance carrier will likely try to deny coverage for any injuries and property damage caused by the permissive user. The insurance carrier may also try to deny coverage if the permissive user has substantially less driving experience than the policyholder or other members of the household.

Another exception to permissive use coverage could be if the user is borrowing the car for business purposes. If your car insurance policy does not cover business uses, but the person who is using your car conducts business (i.e. makes deliveries), the insurance carrier may try to deny coverage.

Should you speak to an attorney?

If anybody has been involved in an accident involving your vehicle, you may need to seek legal assistance. Insurance carriers may try to deny coverage for a permissive user. A skilled Portland car accident attorney will thoroughly investigate the facts of the case and work to ensure that you and anybody else involved are treated fairly by the insurance carrier.