UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right coverage choices.
Advertiser Disclosure: We strive to help you make confident insurance decisions. Comparison shopping should be easy. We partner with top insurance providers. This doesn't influence our content. Our opinions are our own.
Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about auto insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything auto insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by auto insurance experts.
When you buy car insurance, you will normally be asked a number of questions regarding who you are, what kind of car you are driving, what type of driving experience you have, and even how often you drive your vehicle.
Answering these questions correctly and thoroughly is extremely important because failure to do so could render your auto insurance void. Unfortunately, not all of these questions are straight forward and you might find yourself scratching your head over a few of them.
Why Do Insurance Companies Want To Know Whether You Commute In Your Car?
This question is intended to ascertain the most common way you use your car and why you tend to find yourself driving it. The reason for this, is that the insurance company needs to know the circumstances in which you are most likely to be found using your car.
Insurance companies need to know how likely it is that the cars they insure are going to be in accidents. Using this information, they can then calculate how much they need to charge each driver in order to make them profitable based on the likelihood that they will require a pay-out.
This is why an insurance company also asks how many miles a car is likely to do in a year. A car that does 10,000 miles a year has much more opportunity to be involved in an accident than one that does 500 miles a year. Commuting and driving for pleasure involve different volumes of traffic, different frequencies of driving and more – and all this impacts on how likely a car is to have an accident. Enter your zip code below to view companies that have cheap auto insurance rates. Secured with SHA-256 Encryption
Enter your zip code below to view companies that have cheap auto insurance rates.
Secured with SHA-256 Encryption
To Auto Insurance Companies, What Is Defined As Commuting?
On the face of it, this seems like a straightforward question: if you drive to work every day, then you commute in that car. If you use another vehicle, or if you get on the train, then the car is considered for ‘pleasure’.
Generally though, a car is only listed as a ‘pleasure’ vehicle if it is not the ‘primary’ car. For example, if you don’t use the car for commuting as such, but if you use it for all your other daily tasks, then this wouldn’t be considered ‘pleasure’ as such. In this case, commuting could also mean going to get groceries, or going to get your hair cut.
However, this isn’t entirely accurate either, as if a car is used regularly but is not used for commuting, then you probably still won’t be on the road during the most dangerous hours: peak times.
Of course, there are also a number of different scenarios where your car might not fit neatly into that bracket. For instance, if you partake in a carpool or lift-share and you only commute in your vehicle once a week, then would you consider that your ‘commute’ vehicle?
Likewise, if you drive your car to the train station down the road and then get the train to work, would that be considered ‘commuting’?
Of course, commutes vary greatly from person to person as well. One person might commute on the highway and travel hundreds of miles into work. Another person might commute just down the road. But if you’re given only this binary option, then that kind of detail isn’t going to be available to the insurance company.
How to Proceed With Your Car Insurance
Thankfully, a lot of insurance companies will provide additional or alternative options to make this a little bit simpler. For instance, you’ll often find that insurance companies instead prefer to ask whether a car is your primary or secondary vehicle, which is a lot easier to answer: the primary car is the one you drive most often.
You might even be given the chance to state whether a car is primary or secondary, whether it is a commuting vehicle and how many miles it does on average. By using all of that information together, you can hopefully get a more accurate quote and be sure that the policy will cover you for the way that you use your car.
But if you’re unsure, then you might need to get a bit more technical and read the small print. Most car insurance providers will more precisely detail what they mean by certain things, for instance, you should find that they will often explain precisely what type of driving would count as ‘commuting’. Likewise, they might detail precisely what it takes for a car to be considered primary. If you read this extra information, then you should be able to make a more detailed decision.
Another option is simply to call up and discuss with the insurance provider. Often, you’ll find that buying auto insurance online is a good way to save yourself money. But if you’re not sure of how to go about finding the precise policy you need online, then you can always call up and discuss the options with someone on the phone and still buy the policy through their website. This way, you can be sure that you are ticking the box that best describes the way you use your car. And if you take the advisor’s name, then you can always quote that back if there are any questions when you eventually need to make a claim.