Will an unregistered car be covered by car insurance?

You will need to consult your state's laws and the carrier's policy underwriting if you plan on getting insurance for an unregistered car. Even if you fail to renew your registration, your vehicle's insurance remains valid and will provide coverage in the event of an accident.

Free Insurance Comparison

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Chris Tepedino is a feature writer that has written extensively about home, life, and car insurance for numerous websites. He has a college degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and has experience reporting, researching investigative pieces, and crafting detailed, data-driven features. His works have been featured on CB Blog Nation, Flow Words, Healing Law, WIBW Kansas, and C...

Full Bio →

Written by

Laura Walker graduated college with a BS in Criminal Justice with a minor in Political Science. She married her husband and began working in the family insurance business in 2005. She became a licensed agent and wrote P&C business focusing on personal lines insurance for 10 years. Laura serviced existing business and wrote new business. She now uses her insurance background to help educate...

Full Bio →

Reviewed by Laura Walker
Former Licensed Agent Laura Walker

UPDATED: Apr 1, 2022

Advertiser Disclosure

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 are not affiliated with any one insurance company and cannot guarantee quotes from any single insurance company.

Our insurance industry partnerships don’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own. To compare quotes from many different insurance companies please enter your ZIP code above to use the free quote tool. The more quotes you compare, the more chances to save.

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by insurance experts.

The Rundown

  • State laws and the insurer’s underwriting requirements will determine whether you can get a policy for an unregistered car
  • If your registration has lapsed, you’ll still be protected by your policy in the event of an accident
  • You’ll have to prove that you have an insurable interest to get insurance for a car that’s not registered in your name

Will insurance cover an uninspected car? Does an expired registration affect insurance? What happens if you get in an accident with an expired registration? Does an unregistered car need insurance?

Those are excellent questions, and we’ll be happy to answer them. This article will cover everything you need to know about car registration, car insurance, and answers to frequently asked questions.

Let’s get to it.

Will an unregistered car be covered by car insurance?

Insurance companies vary in their attitudes toward unregistered vehicles. Whether they will provide a policy will depend entirely on state laws and the company’s underwriting requirements. It’s not easy to give a concrete answer.

To get coverage on a vehicle without registering it, we suggest you first check with multiple insurance companies to see whether this is permissible within their guidelines. To review coverages, all it takes is a quick call to a number or a quick read of the FAQ section on a website.

Compare The Best Insurance Quotes In The Country

Compare quotes from the top insurance companies and save!

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Does an expired registration affect insurance?

Life is busy, things get lost in the shuffle, and tiny details like renewing your car registration can easily slip through the cracks. If you’ve missed your registration renewal, you probably wonder what happens to your insurance?

The good news is that your expired registration does not affect your current insurance coverage. If you keep up with your insurance payments, your policy will cover you and your vehicle even if you registration lapses. Your insurance coverage cannot be revoked in the middle of your policy’s term because you forgot to renew your registration.

However, keep in mind that driving with an expired registration and without insurance is illegal. If you are pulled over and found to be driving an uninsured vehicle, you may receive a ticket and significant penalties and fines. Even worse, driving without proof of registration is a moving violation, which goes on your driving record.

These instances could cause problems upon the next renewal of your policy. When your insurance company discovers a violation on your record, they will likely hike your insurance rates, and you will find that rates only increase from there. Repeat violations will result in ever-escalating rates and fines for breaking the law.

What happens if you get in an accident with an expired registration?

If you get in an accident with an expired registration, you shouldn’t need to worry. As we mentioned above, you’ll still be covered by your policy if you pay your insurance renewal rates. Your insurance company cannot waive your coverage mid-policy for something like an expired registration.

You will still get a ticket for breaking the law. So, remember to renew your registration as soon as possible to avoid any further consequences.

Can you get car insurance if you’re not the registered owner?

Yes, you can get insurance coverage on a car that’s not registered in your name. The process, however, is not always straightforward.

This is due to something called insurable interest, which essentially means that you have a vested financial stake in the vehicle. Most insurance companies want you to prove you have an insurable interest in the car before issuing a policy. You won’t be able to find an auto insurance company willing to cover you if you don’t produce any concrete evidence. 

But don’t worry. You still have a couple of workarounds to choose from. 

For example, you can always add yourself as a co-owner of the vehicle via a co-title. In most cases, you will need to fill out a form with the names and information of both drivers on the title, pay a fee, and go to the DMV in person to sign the title. By registering yourself as a vehicle’s co-owner, you effectively take ownership of the vehicle, proving your insurance interest.

Alternatively, you can also get non-owner car insurance that covers you while driving someone else’s car. If you frequently rent or borrow cars or drive a friend’s car, this might be the best option for you.

Compare The Best Insurance Quotes In The Country

Compare quotes from the top insurance companies and save!

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Why do you need to register a car?

Every state makes a big deal about car registration as it is essential to identify vehicles on the road. U.S. law requires that all vehicles be registered before you can drive them on public roads. Violating this law can lead to fines or even jail time.

By registering your car, you confirm that you have paid all the taxes and car registration fees associated with operating a vehicle in your state. 

Registering your car is generally a good idea because:

  • It protects you. A vehicle’s registration protects its owner as well as the vehicle. A registration document proves you own your car and, in case it is stolen, helps authorities trace it to you.
  • It protects other drivers. Registering your vehicle lets the state know that you can drive safely on the road, thus protecting the other drivers who share the road with you.
  • It helps assess taxes and gets you insured. Almost every state requires you to have car insurance on your vehicle, and most insurance companies will ask to see your registration document before issuing you coverage.

What should you do first, insurance or registration?

There are few situations where you would have to deal with this question. The DMV usually combines both registration and insurance into one single procedure to not leave room for any mistakes. 

However, most states require you to have valid insurance (or at the very least, proof of insurance) for your car before registering it. You can provide your insurance card or a printout of your coverage. DMV agents will then verify that your insurance is valid, list the vehicle you want to register and provide you with the minimum coverage required by the state.

Free Insurance Comparison

Compare quotes from the top insurance companies and save!

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption