Difference Between “Pleasure” and “Commute” in Terms of Insurance

The difference between pleasure and commute for car insurance is that a commute refers to your drive to work. Companies vary on defining pleasure vs. commute car insurance, and many auto insurance policies refer to cars as your "primary vehicle" and your "secondary vehicle.”

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Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

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Written by Rachel Bodine
Insurance Feature Writer Rachel Bodine

Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insurance...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers CSR for 4 Years Leslie Kasperowicz

UPDATED: Jun 6, 2022

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When you buy car insurance coverage, 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 car insurance policy void. Unfortunately, not all of these questions are straightforward, and you might find yourself scratching your head over a few of them.

What is the difference between pleasure vs. commuter car insurance?

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.” So, can you get insurance without a car? Yes, you can but the terms will depend on the car insurance company.

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, 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.

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Why do insurance companies want to know whether you commute in your car?

For example, one question you might find yourself faced with, is whether you use your car for “commuting” or for “pleasure.”

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 will be in accidents. Using this information, they can then calculate how much they need to charge each driver to make them profitable based on the likelihood that they will require a pay-out, or increase the rate if you’re already covered.

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 these impact how likely a car is to have an accident.

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 a car insurance company would 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 a chance to state whether a car is primary or secondary, whether it is a commuter vehicle, and how much mileage it travels on average. By using all of that information together, you can hopefully get a more accurate quote for your auto insurance rate 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. A car insurance provider 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 car insurance policy you need online, then you can always call up and discuss the options with someone on the phone and still buy the auto insurance 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.

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