Can you get car insurance if you are not the registered owner?

Typically, you buy insurance on a car that has a title in your name or is registered to you. However, you can insure a car that’s not registered in your name if you meet a few key requirements. (iStock)

If you’re ever stopped by a police officer for running a red light, the first thing you’ll be asked to show is your license, registration, and proof of insurance. But what if the car isn't registered to you so you can’t show proof of insurance?

If you're a driver, we don't have to tell you how important it is to get comprehensive car insurance. If you have any concerns about insurance coverage and you frequently hit the road, make sure you visit the multi-lender site Credible to view all of your auto insurance options — whether you're the registered owner or not.

You can get insurance coverage on a car that's not registered to you. But it’s not all that common. The car must be registered in the owner’s name or the person who holds the title, and the owner's name must also be included on the car insurance policy. Or, you can get non-owners insurance.

Can you insure a car if you are not the owner?

Generally, insuring a car that's not registered in your name is possible. But it really comes down to your insurance company's underwriting guidelines. That said, there are ways around it. You can co-title the car and add yourself as an owner, or you can opt for non-owner liability insurance that covers you while driving a car that’s not yours.

If you have insurance and want to lower costs or if you're looking to switch car insurance companies, then head to Credible to explore pricing and compare quotes in one spot (bonus: you can complete the process entirely online).

Insurance companies want to feel confident that the same person who owns the car is the primary policyholder. This is called insurable interest.


What is insurable interest? 

Insurable interest protects the primary policyholder against financial loss. It shows your car insurance company that you have a vested interest in the vehicle and care if it’s damaged. It’s much more difficult to prove insurable interest if you're not the owner of the vehicle.

In this case, car insurance companies may expect fraud and be less likely to write a policy for the vehicle that’s not registered in your name.


How to insure a car that’s not in your name

There are several ways to insure a car that’s not in your name.

1. Co-title the vehicle: In essence, co-titling is joint ownership of the vehicle. Both owners are required to sign the original application for registration and title in their state of residence.

The same is true for the insurance policy, called joint-owners insurance. If you co-title the vehicle and both drive the car, then you both must be on the car insurance policy. Any other family member who also drives the car must also be listed on the policy.

The one exception to joint-owners insurance is if the registered owners of a car do not live together, and both of the owners don’t drive the car. In this case, you may not be required to list both drivers on the car insurance policy.

If you want more insurance coverage or a better rate, make sure to use a comparison-shopping site like Credible. Credible can help you compare rates and auto insurance companies to ensure you're covered.

2. Non-owner insurance: If you have non-owner insurance and you’re in an accident, your policy — that acts as a secondary insurance policy — will kick in when the primary policyholder’s insurance is exhausted. Businesses often take out a non-owner policy for a company car or truck that’s driven by employees.

There are a number of other reasons why you’d want to buy non-owner insurance:

  • If you only occasionally borrow the car.
  • You rent a car for an extended period of time.
  • To get and maintain a driver’s license (most states require proof of insurance to apply for a driver’s license).

Credible's free financial tools will help you save on car insurance by allowing you to compare rates or other fees. Start checking out what else is out there today.

3. Added to the vehicle owner’s policy: Many times the owner of a vehicle will add another person—usually a close friend or family member to their policy. That way, anyone on the policy who drives the car is covered. This is also the case if you share the same address as the owner of the vehicle.


When can’t you insure a car that’s not in your name?  

The reasons why you can’t insure a car that’s not in your name are somewhat obvious, and include:

  1. If you’re not legally allowed to drive. You’re underage or, for some reason, you can’t drive in a particular state. 
  2. If you don’t have the permission of the vehicle owner or primary policyholder.
  3. You have no insurable interest in the vehicle. Most states and many car insurance carriers require this. 
  4. You have a bad driving record or DUIs.
  5. You’ve had gaps in insurance coverage. You may still get insurance for a car that's not in your name, but it won't be easy.