Car insurance carriers like to use misleading terms at times. An easier way to learn what primary and secondary driver insurance means is “First and Second” driver insurance. The primary driver is whoever uses the car the most. Meaning, who is the primary/first person most likely to use this vehicle on a daily basis. The secondary driver is another driver listed on the policy that drives the vehicle on a semi-regular basis. For example, a teenager listed on the policy that only drives on the weekends.
The primary driver is going to be the primary focus on the insurance policy rate. In adherence to state guidelines, insurance carriers review the primary driver’s credit score, driving history, vehicle usage, and age. Typically, the primary driver will also be the vehicle owner. For some insurance carriers, the primary driver must be the vehicle owner. Some insurance carriers have strict guidelines wanting the name and address on the vehicle registration information to match their insurance ID card. This disclaimer is extremely important when shopping for car insurance rates. Meaning, if the vehicle owner to a brand new sports car is the head of household with over twenty years of clean driving experience but the primary driver will be a teenager with less than two years of driving experience, insurance carriers handle this situation differently. Some insurance carriers will not allow the highest risk driver to be the primary driver. Some carriers will work with you regarding making the best financial and risk analysis decision. While other carriers will adjust the rates by using a percentage breakdown on vehicle usage by driver. A lot of the percentage breakdown is based on your word hence why only some insurance carriers will allow this option.
Insurance carriers associate a primary driver to each vehicle on the policy. For example, if a policy has three vehicles and three drivers, the agent will likely ask you which driver uses which vehicle the most. Also, most insurance carriers will question why one driver will be listed as the primary driver on three different vehicles. This will be considered a major “red flag” once the policy is submitted to the insurance carriers underwriting department. The underwriting department reviews all new policies and ensures the agent follows the guidelines. If major issues are found, the underwriting department can request additional information, adjust rates, and/or outright cancel the policy.
Secondary drivers should include any driver who shares the address on the policy and may drive the car at any time. Most people think of immediate family but this can include significant others or roommates. Insurance carriers consider anyone who lives at the same address as someone who has access to your car more than the average person. Therefore, they must be added as a listed secondary driver.
If your roommate has a horrible driving history and adding them will severely increase your rates, most insurance carriers will want this person to be completely excluded from the policy. They will insist on completing an “Excluded Driver Form”. In this form, your roommate’s name will be clearly named as an individual who is not allowed to drive your car under any circumstances. If this person is found driving the vehicle and is involved in an accident, your insurance carrier will likely deny coverage regardless of fault. For example, your roommate borrowed your car to buy milk at the grocery store down the street and is rear-ended while stopped at the light. Your insurance carrier will not extend coverage because your roommate was driving at the time of loss. And some insurance carriers will consider this as a lapse of judgment and cancel your policy on the next policy period.