What is an Excluded Driver?
In the auto insurance world, an “excluded driver” is exactly what it means – a driver who is “excluded” from driving an insured vehicle for a multiple of reasons.
A driver is deemed excluded once the primary auto insurance owner contacts the insurance company and tells them the excluded driver should not be covered under the auto insurance policy. The vehicle owner may want to avoid any accidents or incidents stemming from the excluded driver’s use of the car, or simply want to avoid the higher premiums associated with excluded drivers.
In some instances, the auto insurer may mandate that a driver – usually a family member – must be excluded from the auto insurance policy, unless the policy holder agrees to pay a significantly higher auto policy premium.
“An excluded driver is someone who is explicitly excluded from coverage on a given auto insurance policy,” said Olivia Oksenhorn, an insurance specialist at Insurify. “An excluded driver may be a part of the same household as the other policy member(s) but have their own vehicle and/or separate insurance coverage.”
According to Oksenhorn, an insurance provider will not pay claims for any damages incurred while an excluded driver is behind the wheel.
“Since excluded drivers are not covered by a policy, however, their driving history and personal information will not impact that policy’s overall premium,” she said. “Rated drivers, meanwhile, are policy members who are covered to drive the vehicles included in that policy. Their personal information and driving history affect the policy’s premium.”
Insured vehicle owners should understand that vehicle insurance covers the insured auto, first and foremost.
For example, in the event of an excluded driver causing an accident in your vehicle, the auto insurance policy will cover any damage incurred, no matter who’s driving the vehicle. That could lead to higher premiums on your auto insurance going forward and should lead to all vehicle owners to keep unsafe drivers out of their vehicles.
Points of Focus
If you’re an insured vehicle owner and want to designate a driver as “excluded”, focus on these key points, provided by Julia Matseikovich, vice president of product at Excel Impact, which owns and operates AgileRates, in Miami, Fla.
- When you exclude a driver from your auto insurance policy, that person isn’t covered to drive your car. “If they drive your car and get into an accident, you’ll be responsible for paying for any damages,” Matseikovich said. “Rated drivers are any drivers who drive your car regularly. These drivers affect your car insurance rates, but are covered under your auto insurance policy.”
- Rated drivers are simply drivers in your own household who have access to your vehicle and affect your car insurance rates. “If you don’t want a driver to affect your car insurance rates, you can exclude them from your policy,” Matseikovich noted. “But if the person banned drives your car and gets into an accident, you’re responsible for paying for any damages.”
- Excluding a driver from your car insurance policy means that driver won’t affect your rates. “But, your insurance company won’t pay any damages if an excluded driver drives your vehicle and gets into an accident,” Matseikovich added. “Rated drivers affect your rates but are covered in the event of an accident.”
How “Excluding” a Driver from an Auto Policy Works
The actual process for declaring a driver to be excluded is fairly straightforward.
“When applying for a policy, an insured will be asked to list family members and anyone else who may drive the vehicle,” said Thomas Simeone, a personal injury attorney at Simeone & Miller, LLP, in Washington, D.C.
When giving a quote for a policy, the insurance company will indicate who they wish to exclude from coverage. “If you accept that quote and policy, then the excluded driver’s name is listed on the policy as excluded from coverage and not covered if there is any claim,” Simeone said.
When applying for insurance, the policy owner should indicate to the insurance company who will be excluded from coverage. Be ready to issue the name of the driver, as there’s no guarantee the agent or broker will bring the issue up, unless the name of the excluded driver was made available to the insurance company beforehand.
“After that, the insurance company will then issue a policy with that person excluded from coverage,” Simeone noted.
If an insured vehicle owner hedges on declaring a relative or close friend an excluded driver, know the excluded driver process passes legal muster.
“Yes, excluding drivers is legal,” Simeone said. “Insurance companies do it all the time to minimize the risk of a claim by not insuring high risk drivers.”
“Excluded drivers are usually ones who are very young, have a bad driving record, or have some other indication that they pose a higher risk of an accident or claim than a non-excluded driver,” he added.
Action Steps When Seeing an Excluded Driver Provision
Vehicle owners who want to handle an excluded driver issue the right way can benefit from these expert tips from insurance experts.
Examine all of your options. There are a few options available to auto owners who want to get a problem driver off their insurance.
“One option is to exclude the driver from your policy,” said André Disselkamp, chief executive officer at Finsurancy, a fintech-based insurance services firm. “This means that they will not be covered under your policy if they get into an accident.”
You can also ask the driver to sign a waiver of responsibility. “This will release
you from any financial responsibility if they get into an accident,” Disselkamp said. “Major insurance carriers require all household drivers to be listed on a car insurance policy, so the best way to remove a problem driver is to have them excluded.”
Check your state’s outlook on excluded drivers. As auto insurance in the U.S. is handled on a state-by-state basis, excluded driver policies may be handle differently on a state-by-state basis, too.
“Not all states allow exclusive driver provisions on auto insurance policies,” said Geoff Cudd, consumer advocate and owner of the website FindTheBestCarPrice.com. “Many states explicitly do not allow driver exclusions, stating that the creation of an uninsured driver is antithetical to public policy.”
If your state allows for it, excluding the driver and having them get their own insurance separately is the best option to lower your insurance rates if you currently have a problem driver on your policy.
“If you live in a state where this is not allowed, you should be able to at least remove them from your policy,” Cudd noted
Focus on costs, too. In most cases, the excluded driver option indeed is the best way for auto owners to avoid costs related to problem drivers.
“To properly insure each and every member that previously had a bad/no driving record, auto owners will need to pay way too much for insuring family members that don’t even drive
a vehicle,” said Johannes Larsson, founder & CEO at Financer.com. “In those instances, excluded drivers can help vehicle owners curb the insurance cost by potentially hundreds or even thousands of dollars annually, and cover only a household’s legitimate drivers.”