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CAR INSURANCE INSIGHTS

You can usually get auto insurance coverage if you don’t have a driver’s license.

Can you get car insurance without a driver’s license? It sounds like a strange question, as most people who purchase a car insurance policy to drive and, thus, need a license.

However, there are situations in which you might need coverage before you have obtained a license or even if you have no plans to get a license. Read on to learn more about these situations and what you should do if they apply to you.

KEY TAKEAWAYS
  • You can usually get car insurance even if you do not have a driver’s license -- though it may be challenging.
  • Reasons you may want car insurance without a license are if you have a license suspension, want someone else to use the vehicle to run your errands, or if you purchase a classic car and don’t plan to drive it. 
  • You typically can’t insure a car on someone else’s insurance policy. 
  • Not having your driver’s license at hand after an accident is unlikely to impact your insurance premiums but may have other consequences.

Do you need a license to get car insurance?

It seems logical: To get auto insurance, you probably think you need a driver's license. But that isn’t necessarily the case.

It is possible to get car insurance if you don’t have a license,” says Loretta Worters, vice president of media relations for the Insurance Information Institute.

In fact, there are many possible situations in which you may need insurance even if you don’t drive. Fortunately, car insurance companies may be willing to work with you to get the coverage you need, even if you don't drive.

Why may you want car insurance without a driver’s license?

It's not common to need auto insurance when you do not even have a driver's license. But there are several situations where you might require such coverage.

For example, you might need coverage if you’re a new driver and asked to show proof of insurance before getting a driver's license.

Other situations when you might require coverage – even if you do not have a driver’s license – include:

Health conditions

You might need auto insurance if you no longer can drive your own car -- due to age, your health or other reasons -- and rely on a licensed driver to take the wheel and drive you to shopping or doctor's appointments. In that case, you might want to cover your vehicle for another person to use it.

Student driver with a provisional license

If you have a child under the age of 18 in your home, you might need to insure your car as he or she learns to drive.

Gifting a car to a student driver

Once your child turns 16 and is ready to drive, he or she will need access to a car that is insured. This is another example of where you might need car insurance coverage even if you never drive the motor vehicle.

Purchase a vintage car

Some people own classic cars with no intention of driving them. But that doesn't mean they don't require insurance to protect against possible damages -- such as from a hailstorm -- or the theft of the vehicle. In that case, you may want to get car insurance with comprehensive coverage that protects you against non-driving-related damages and loss. This type of car insurance is sometimes called parked car coverage.

Suspended driver license

If you have a suspended driver's license, you likely need auto insurance to get your license reinstated.

The exact rules vary by state, but you probably need to show proof of coverage to the department of motor vehicles to get your license reinstated.

Once you have coverage, your insurance carrier needs to confirm your coverage by submitting an SR-22 form.

Keep in mind that a history of having a suspended driver’s license may put you into a higher-risk category for coverage, meaning insurance companies may charge you more for coverage.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you get car insurance with a suspended license?

It’s possible to get coverage with a suspended license, it’s more challenging -- and you likely will pay more for the coverage.

If you’re looking for car insurance and you have a suspended license, shop around to multiple auto insurance companies. Some insurers offer better rates for risky drivers, so make sure to get quotes from multiple insurance carriers. Don't just go with the cheapest car insurance. Make sure the auto insurance company is right for you when you buy car insurance.

Can unlicensed drivers get full car insurance coverage?

It’s possible to get auto insurance -- including full coverage -- without a driver’s license. But it may be more of a challenge.

Worters says that most carriers ask for a valid driver’s license number when you apply for coverage.

“So, there could be difficulties, depending on the insurer and the state you live in and the reason you don’t have a license,” she says.

Car insurers may view you as more of a high-risk driver if you don’t have a license. However, you still should be able to secure an auto insurance policy by listing the name and driver’s license number of the person who will be the car’s primary driver.

Can you get a license plate without a license?

Rules vary by state, but in general, you should be able to get a license plate even if you don’t have a driver’s license.

However, to get a license plate, you almost surely will need to show proof of insurance. If you have questions about getting a license plate without a license, contact your state’s department of motor vehicles.

Should you have insurance if you have a car but not a license?

If your car is going to be driven at all – either by you or someone else – you need car insurance in nearly every state. Even in places where you aren’t legally required for purchasing car insurance, such as New Hampshire, you should buy an insurance policy.

Getting into an accident without insurance leaves you financially responsible for all damages you cause. This can be ruinous. Insurance protects you from such a fate.

Can you register a car with no license?

Registering a car without a license may be possible, but it’s likely to be difficult.

For example, in Texas, you can register your car without a license, but you must show proof of insurance. So, you may have to formally exclude yourself as a driver and provide information about who will be driving your car.

Is it possible to insure a car on someone else’s policy?

In most cases, the answer is no. Most standard auto insurance policies are only written in the name of the person who legally owns the car.

There are exceptions to this rule, however. For example, an insurance company may make an exception when someone doesn’t own the car but has a financial stake or insurable interest in the vehicle.

So, if you are interested in this option, ask your auto insurer if you want to purchase auto insurance.

Who is allowed to be the primary driver on an auto insurance policy?

Anyone who drives the car most often can be named as the primary driver. Your car insurance rates will be based on the person who is named as the primary driver, including their driving history.

The driving record and risk profile of the primary driver will determine how much you pay for insurance. For example, it would likely be a mistake to name a teen in your household as a primary driver since it’s much more expensive to insure teens.

Insurance companies may be reluctant to list someone who doesn’t live in your household as the primary driver.

Will it affect your insurance premiums if you get into a car accident but don’t have a driver’s license with you?

If you forget to take your driver’s license with you and later get into an accident, it’s unlikely that it will impact your insurance costs.

“I doubt that there would be any impact on your premium for failure to have your license on you,” Worters says.

That doesn’t mean failure to have your license wouldn’t have other negative impacts. For instance, a police officer might use your lack of a license to write you a ticket, she notes.

But simply forgetting your license is unlikely to wreak havoc with your insurance rates.

“If you have no license at all, that would be a different matter and would definitely impact your premium,” Worters says.

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