Can I carry car insurance for a car if the title is not in my name?

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The Rundown

  • Getting insurance coverage for a vehicle you don’t own can be complicated because it is difficult to prove insurable interest to auto insurance companies
  • States like New York do not allow drivers to purchase coverage for vehicles that are not titled in their name
  • Non-owner car insurance or co-titling before purchasing coverage are two options for buying a policy if you don’t own the vehicle

If you live in the United States and have a driver’s license, you probably know that auto insurance is a requirement for you to get behind the wheel legally. But what if you don’t own a car?

Can you get car insurance for a car when the title is not in your name? Read our guide to find out the answer to this question, some car insurance basics, and more, so you know what to do when you’re looking for auto insurance policies for a vehicle you don’t own.

Want to find affordable car insurance for a car when the title is not in your name? You can use your ZIP code in the tool on this page to get a free quote right now.

Can you insure a car you don’t own?

Can I insure a car that’s not in my name? Can you buy an auto insurance policy for a car when the title is not in your name?

The answer is complicated. The main problem with insuring a car that is not in your name is that you will have to show an insurable interest in the car, to prove to the auto insurance company that they should give you a policy. Insurers do this to protect themselves from insurance fraud.

In addition to insurable interest, state laws may apply. Depending on where you live, you may not be able to insure a vehicle that’s not in your name. For example, in New York, only the individual to whom a vehicle is registered can insure it, meaning you cannot get coverage for a vehicle you don’t own.

The best way to determine if this is the case in your state is to reach out to your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or a licensed agent.

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What is insurable interest?

Typically, the vehicle owner has an insurable interest because they have something to lose if the car is totaled, while someone who is not on the registration does not. If you can prove an insurable interest, even though you don’t own it, you can insure the vehicle, but that may a difficult feat to achieve.

How do you prove insurable interest?

At the very least, most insurers will want you to be named as a driver on the car if you’re not the owner. The insurance will still be written for the vehicle owner, but you can pay the premiums and be covered if something goes wrong.

Even if the car is in your child’s name, you will have a hard time showing an insurable interest. In this case, an insurance agent will advise you to get a new registration that includes both you and your child as the registered owner (referred to as co-titling, which we’ll discuss again later).

This same tactic will work for someone who is not related to you, but the DMV may be concerned that two different and unrelated people own the car, especially if you live at different addresses.

How do you get insurance for a car when the title is not in your name?

The first step is to determine if it is legal in your state to get insurance for a vehicle that isn’t registered in your name. If it is permitted, the next step is to shop around for coverage. You’ll probably have to speak to more than one insurance agent before finding a company that will sell you a policy.

A key piece of this approach is proving that you have some insurable or financial interest in the vehicle. For example, you could prove that the vehicle in question is necessary for you to get to work.

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Are there other insurance options if you can’t get coverage for a car you don’t own?

You know that an auto insurance policy is required in nearly every state in the country to drive legally. At the very least, you’ll have to carry minimum liability car insurance coverage (exact amounts vary by state).

So what do you do if you’re unable to get coverage for a vehicle you don’t own but do drive?

You can always pay for the vehicle’s insurance, even if you are not listed as a driver. In this case, your payment will not benefit you n any way because you are simply acting as a financial benefactor, not as someone who has anything invested in the vehicle.

This method works but introduces other problems if something changes in your relationship with the car owner. To protect your own use of the car, you should be listed as a driver, even if you only use it on rare occasions.

There are a few other options, including non-owner auto insurance. Keep reading for more.

What is non-owner car insurance?

If you often drive cars you do not own, you may want to check out non-owner insurance. This is liability coverage that applies to renting a car or borrowing a car from someone else.

If you’re in an at-fault accident, your non-owner insurance policy will pay for injuries suffered by other people involved in the accident, the drivers of other cars, and their passengers. It would also pay for damage you cause to another vehicle.

Non-owner car insurance coverage may cost somewhere between $200 and $500 each year, but where you live, what kind of coverage you choose, how often you drive, your age, and more, can affect these rates.

What is additional interest?

If you already have insurance on your own vehicle, you can add the car owner you do not own to your auto policy. This should not affect your insurance rates because you’re just adding the driver, not the vehicle, to your coverage.

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What is co-titling?

Another option for insuring a vehicle you don’t own is to become a partial owner by co-titling the car (recall we briefly discussed this in a previous section). This is exactly what it sounds like: having your name added to the title for the vehicle, allowing yourself to hold a policy on it.

This generally means both you and the current vehicle owner will need to apply for a new title together through the DMV. Different state laws may apply, so you should call the DMV first to find out the exact requirements where you live.

Keep in mind that this may not be an option if the vehicle is not yet paid off.

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What happens if you don’t get the right coverage for a car when the title is not in your name?

If you don’t get the appropriate coverage or choose not to add a vehicle for some reason, you could face penalties. Driving uninsured can result in serious consequences. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), you may face fines as high as $5,000 and suspension of your driving privileges.

Take a look at this table for the penalties for driving uninsured in your state.

Penalties for Driving without Auto Insurance by State
StateFirst Offense for Driving UninsuredSecond Offense for Driving Uninsured
AlabamaFine: Up to $500; registration suspension with $200 reinstatement feeFine: Up to $1,000 and/or six-month license suspension; $400 reinstatement fee with four-month registration suspension
AlaskaLicense suspension for 90 daysLicense suspension for one year
ArizonaFine: $500 (or more); license/registration/license plate suspension for three monthsFine: $750 (or more within 36 months); license/registration/license plate suspension for six months
ArkansasFine: $50 to $250; suspended registration/no plates until proof of coverage plus $20 reinstatement fee; court may order impoundmentFine: $250 to $500 fine — minimum fine mandatory; suspended registration/no plates until proof of coverage plus $20 reinstatement fee. Court may order impoundment
CaliforniaFine: $100-$200 plus penalty assessments. Court may order impoundmentFine: $200-$500 within three years plus penalty assessments. Court may order impoundment
ColoradoFine: $500 minimum fine; 4 points against your license; license suspension until you can show proof to the DMV that you are insured. Courts may add up to 40 hours community service$1,000 minimum fine and license suspension for 4 months; 4 points against your license. Courts may add up to 40 hours community service
ConnecticutFine: $100-$1000; suspended registration/license for one month (show proof of insurance) with $175 reinstatement feeFine: $100-$1000; suspended registration/license for six months (show proof of insurance) with $175 reinstatement fee
DelawareFine: $1500 minimum fine; license/privilege suspension for six monthsFine: $3000 minimum fine within three years; license/privilege suspension for six months
FloridaSuspension of license and registration until reinstatement fee is paid and non-cancelable coverage is secured; $150 fee for first reinstatementSuspension of license and registration until reinstatement fee is paid and non-cancelable coverage is secured; $250 fee for second reinstatement
GeorgiaSuspended registration with $25 lapse fee and $60 reinstatement fee. Pay any other registration fees and vehicle ad valorem taxes dueWithin five years: Suspended registration with $25 lapse fee and $60 reinstatement fee. Pay any other registration fees and vehicle ad valorem taxes due
HawaiiFine: $500 fine or community service granted by judge. Either license suspension for three months or a required nonrefundable insurance policy in force for six monthsFine: $1500 minimum fine within five years; either license suspension for one year or a required non-refundable insurance policy in force for six months
IdahoFine: $75; license suspension until financial proof. No reinstatement fee.Fine: $1000 maximum fine within five years and/or no more than six months in jail; license suspension until financial proof. No reinstatement fee.
IllinoisFine: minimum of $500; License plate suspension until $100 reinstatement fee and insurance proofFine: minimum of $1,000; License plate suspension for four months; $100 reinstatement fee and insurance proof
IndianaLicense/registration suspension for 90 days to one yearWithin three years: license/registration suspension for one year
IowaFine: $500 if in accident; Otherwise, fine: $250; community service in lieu of fine. Possible citation/warning if pulled over plus removal of plates and registration possible when pulled over without insurance and reissued upon payment of fine or completed community service, proof of insurance, and $15 fee; possible impoundment when pulled overN/A
KansasFine: $300 to $1000 and/or confinement in jail up to six months; license/registration suspension; reinstatement fee: $100Fine: $800 to $2500 within three years; license/registration suspension; reinstatement fee: $300 if revoked within previous year, otherwise $100
KentuckyFine: $500 to $1000 fine and/or sentenced up to 90 days in jail; license plates and registration revoked for one year or until proof of insurance is shownWithin five years: 180 days in jail and/or $1000 to $2500; license plates and registration revoked for one year or until proof of insurance is shown
LouisianaFine: $500 to $1000; If in car accident, fine plus registration revoked and driving privileges suspended for 180 daysN/A
MaineFine: $100 to $500; suspension of license and registration until proof of insuranceN/A
MarylandLose license plates and vehicle registration privileges; pay uninsured motorist penalty fees for each lapse of insurance — $150 for the first 30 days, $7 for each day thereafter; Pay a restoration fee of up to $25 for a vehicle's registrationN/A
MassachusettsFine: $500 to $5000 fine and/or imprisonment for one year or lessWithin six years: License/driving privileges suspended for one year
MichiganFine: $200 to $500 fine and/or imprisonment for one year or less; license suspension for 30 days or until proof of insurance; $25 service fee to Secretary of StateN/A
MinnesotaFine: $200 to $1000 (or community service) and/or imprisonment for up to 90 days; License and registration revoked for no more than 12 monthsN/A
MississippiFine: $1000; driving privileges suspended for one year or until proof of insuranceN/A
MissouriFour points against driving record; driver may be supervised; suspended until proof of insurance with $20 reinstatement feeFour points against driving record; driver may be supervised; suspended for 90 days with $200 reinstatement fee
MontanaFine: $250 to $500 fine and/or imprisonment for no more than 10 daysFine: $350 and/or imprisonment for no more than 10 days — within 5 years; license and registration revoked until proof of insurance and payment of reinstatement fees within 90 days
NebraskaLicense and registration suspension; reinstatement fee of $50 for each; proof of insurance to remain on file for three years
NevadaFine: $250 to $1,000 depending on length of lapse; registration suspension — until payment of reinstatement fee and, depending on circumstances, an SR-22 (proof of financial responsiblity) if lapsed more than 90 days; reinstatement fee: $250Fine: $500 to $1000 depending on length of lapse; registration suspension — until payment of reinstatement fee and, depending on circumstances, SR-22 (proof of financial responsibility) if lapsed more than 90 days; Reinstatement fee: $500
New HampshireNot a mandatory insurance state. Proof of insurance may be required as the result of a conviction, crash involvement, or administrative action. If you are required to file proof of insurance and vehicles are registered in your name, you will be required to file an Owner’s SR-22 Certificate of Insurance.N/A
New JerseyFine: $300 to $1000; license suspension for one year; pay surcharges for three years in the amount of $250 per yearFine: up to $5000; two-year license suspension; 14-day, mandatory jail term, and an additional mandatory 30 days of community service
New MexicoFine: up to $300 and/or imprisoned for 90 days; license suspensionN/A
New YorkFine: up to $1500 if involved in accident plus $750 civil penalty; license and registration suspension – revoked for one year; suspension of license if without
insurance for 90 days; suspension lasts as long as registration suspension; Suspension of registration: equal to time without insurance or pays $8/day up to thirty days for which financial security was not in effect, $10/day from the thirty-first to the sixtieth day $12/day from the sixtieth to the ninetieth day and proof of security is provided. Or for the same time as the vehicle was operated without insurance.
N/A
North CarolinaFine: $50; registration suspension until proof of financial responsibility but 30-day suspension if in car accident or knowingly driving without insurance; $50 restoration fee plus license plate feeFine: $100 within three years; registration suspension until proof of financial responsibility but 30-day suspension if in car accident or knowingly driving without insurance; $50 restoration fee plus license plate fee
North DakotaFine: up to $1500 and/or 30 days in prison; 14 points against license plus suspension; Proof of insurance must be provided for one year; license with a
notation requiring that person keep proof of liability insurance on file with the department. The fee for this license is $50, and the fee to remove
this notation is $50.
Fine: up to $1500 and/or 30 days in prison; 14 points against license plus suspension; license plates impounded until proof of insurance (provided for one year) plus $20 reinstatement fee; license with a notation requiring that person keep proof of liability insurance on file with the department. The fee for this license is $50 and the fee to remove this notation is $50.
OhioLicense/plates/registration suspension until requirements are met and $100 reinstatement fee is paid; maintain special high-risk coverage on file with the BMV for three to five years; If involved in accident without insurance: all above penalties and a security suspension for two plus years and an indefinite judgment suspension (until all damages are satisfied)License/plates/registration suspension for one year; $300 reinstatement fee; maintain special high-risk coverage on file with the BMV for three or five years; if involved in accident without insurance: all above penalties and a security suspension for two plus years and an indefinite judgment suspension (until all damages are satisfied)
OklahomaFine: $250; jail time up to 30 days; license suspension with $275 reinstatement fee. Police can seize license plates and assign temporary plates and liability insurance — in effect for 10 days and can also impound the vehicle. The cost of the temporary coverage is added to the administrative fee and any fines paid for plates to be returned. If car impounded, owner must also pay towing and storage fees.N/A
OregonFine: $130-$1000 ($260 is the presumptive fine); If involved in accident — at least a one year license suspension; proof of financial responsibility required for three yearsN/A
PennsylvaniaRegistration suspended for three months (unless lapse was for less than 31 days and vehicle not operated during that time); $88 restoration fee plus proof of insurance required to get it back; $500 civil penalty fee is optional in lieu of registration suspension plus $88 restoration fee — can only use this option once within a 12-month periodN/A
Rhode IslandFine: $100 to $500; license and registration suspension up to three months; reinstatement fee: $30 to $50Fine: $500; license and registration suspension up to six months; reinstatement fee: $30 to $50
South CarolinaFine: $100-$200 or 30-day imprisonment; failure to surrender registration and plates when insurance lapses; license/registration suspended until proof of insurance plus $200 reinstatement feeFine: $200 and/or 30-day imprisonment — within 10 years; license/registration suspended until proof of insurance plus $200 reinstatement fee
South DakotaFine: $100 and/or 30 days imprisonment; license suspension for 30 days to one year; filing proof of insurance (SR-22) with the state for three years from date of conviction. Failure to file proof will result in suspension of vehicle registration, license plates, and driver license.N/A
TennesseePay $25 coverage failure fee within 30 days of notice; if not paid, then an additional $100 coverage failure fee with suspension or revocation of registration plus reinstatement fee of no more than $25N/A
TexasFine: $175 to $350 fine; plus, pay up to a $250 surcharge every year for three years (may be reduced with certain requirements)Fine: $350 to $1000; pay up to a $250 surcharge every year for three years (may be reduced with certain requirements); suspend the driver's license and vehicle registrations of the person unless the person files and maintains evidence of financial responsibility with the department until the second anniversary of the date of the subsequent conviction; Impoundment: for 180 days and
cannot apply for release of car without evidence of financial responsibility and impoundment fee of $15/day.
UtahFine: $400; license suspension until proof of insurance (maintained for three years) and $100 reinstatement feeFine: $1000 — with three years; license suspension until proof of insurance (maintained for three years) and $100 reinstatement fee
VermontFine: up to $500; license suspended until proof of insuranceN/A
VirginiaFine: may pay $500 Uninsured Motorists Vehicle fee to drive without insurance at your own risk. If this fee is not paid in lieu of insurance, all driving and vehicle registration privileges will be suspended until a $500 statutory fee is paid, proof of insurance is filed for three years, and a reinstatement fee (if applicable) is paidN/A
WashingtonFine: Up to $250 or moreN/A
West VirginiaFine: $200 to $5000; license suspended for 30 days with reinstatement fees, unless there's proof of insurance and $200 penalty feeFine: $200-$5000 fine and/or 15 days to one year in jail — within five years; license suspended for 90 days and registration revoked until proof of insurance
WisconsinFine: up to $500N/A
WyomingFine: up to $750 fine and up to six months in jailN/A
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As you can see, driving uninsured is not to be taken lightly. Regardless of the complications, if you need coverage for a vehicle you don’t own, it’s important to work with your insurance company to get it. You can start by getting insurance quotes online.

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What is the bottom line on auto insurance policies for a car you don’t own?

It isn’t easy to purchase insurance coverage for a vehicle you don’t own. This is largely because insurance companies need you to prove insurable interest before they’ll sell you an auto policy. Also, in some states (like New York), it may not be legal to insure a vehicle if the title isn’t in your name.

Options for coverage if a vehicle isn’t titled in your name include non-owner insurance, additional interest (adding the owner of the vehicle as a driver on your policy), and adding your name to the title of the vehicle before purchasing coverage.

There are penalties for driving uninsured, so it’s important to find the best coverage option for your situation, and you can work with an insurance agent to make sure you’re meeting all legal requirements before you get behind the wheel.

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Asked November 10, 2014 by Lauren Lockett

2 Answers


If you already have insurance on your own vehicle, you can add the car you do not own to your policy, for the additional premium.

You can take out a policy on a car even if you do not own it.

If you often drive cars you do not own, you may want to check out non-owner automobile coverage. This is liability coverage that applies whether you are renting a car or borrowing a car from someone else. It would pay for injuries suffered by other people involved, the drivers of other cars and their passenger. It would also pay for damage you cause to another vehicle.

Answered February 19, 2016 by mziarnik


The problem with insuring a car that is not in your name is that you will have to be able to show an insurable interest in the car. Typically, the owner has an insurable interest because they have something to lose if the car is totaled, while someone who is not on the registration does not. If you can prove an insurable interest, you can insure the vehicle, but that may a difficult feat to achieve.

Most insurance companies will want you to be named as a driver on the car rather than the owner of it. The insurance will still be written for the owner of the vehicle, but you can pay the premiums and be covered if something goes wrong.

Even if the car is in your child's name, you will have a hard time showing an insurable interest. In this case, an insurance agent will advise you to get a new registration which includes both you and your child as the registered owner. This same tactic will work for someone who is not related to you, but the DMV may be concerned that the car is owned by two different and related people, especially if you live at different addresses.

You can always pay the insurance for the vehicle, even if you are not listed as driver. In this case, your payment will not benefit you in any way, because you are simply acting as financial benefactor, not as someone who has anything invested in the vehicle. This method works, but introduces other problems if something changes in your relationship with the car owner. To protect your own use of the car, you should be listed as a driver of the car even if you only use it on rare occasions.

Answered November 10, 2014 by Anonymous

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