Can I Insure a Car Not in My Name?

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Life is complicated, and there are many cases when you might find yourself needing to insure a car you don’t own. Maybe a family member gifted you their old car, or maybe you’re sharing your roommate’s ride. Whatever your situation, this article will walk you through your options when it comes to insuring a car that’s not in your name. 

Can I Insure a Car Not in My Name?

The short answer is no, you can’t insure a car if your name isn’t on the title and registration. To take out an insurance policy on a vehicle, you have to have what’s called insurable interest in it.

That means you have to have some kind of investment or financial stake in the vehicle, or an insurance company won’t trust you to take care of it. If your name isn’t on a vehicle’s title, you don’t legally own that vehicle, so you have no insurable interest in it as far as insurance companies are concerned. 

Still, there are some situations when you might need to drive a car that isn’t in your name, and you want to make sure you’re covered in case of an accident. This article will explain how that works and your coverage options.

Does Your Car Insurance and Registration Have to Be Under the Same Name?

In many states, the name of the auto insurance policyholder has to match the name on the vehicle’s registration. This is one way to ensure that only the owner of the vehicle can take out insurance on it. 

So, if you want to insure a car in your name, you’ll have to get your name added to its registration first, which can happen in one of two ways:

  • If the vehicle is completely changing ownership like if your parents give you their old car that they don’t use anymore – you can have the registration transferred to your name. To transfer the registration, have the car’s previous owner sign the title over to you. Then, take the title, your driver’s license, and possibly other documents to your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office, where you can register the vehicle under your name.
  • If you will share the vehicle with the current owner – like if your roommate lets you borrow their car regularly – you can have the current owner add your name to the existing registration. They’ll have to add your name to the title, which would give you equal ownership of the vehicle. If you’re just borrowing someone’s car, they may not be willing to go that far, and their lender may not allow them to add someone else to the title if they bought the vehicle with a loan they haven’t paid off yet. 

Once your name is on the vehicle’s registration, you’ll be able to take out your own insurance policy on it. But that isn’t your only (or necessarily your best) option.

Depending on your situation, the owner of the vehicle may be able to add you as a listed driver on their insurance policy, or you may be able to get a non-owner car insurance policy that covers your liability in case you get in an accident in someone else’s car.

Can Someone Else Insure My Car if the Title Is Under My Name?

Even with your permission, another person will not be able to take out insurance on your car if their name isn’t on the title. 

If you’re in a situation where you want someone else to insure your car, you may be able to co-title, or co-own, the vehicle with them. Once they’ve been added to the title, they become a legal owner of the vehicle along with you, and they’ll be able to insure it under their name.

Co-titling isn’t always an option, though. In some states, you can only co-title with someone if you live together. And if you still owe money on a loan for your car, your lender probably won’t let you add another person to the title. 

If you can’t or don’t want to co-title with someone, you’ll have to insure your car in your own name.

What Are My Options for Borrowed Car Insurance?

When you drive someone else’s car, you may be covered by their auto insurance already. If not, you can have them add you to their policy as a listed driver or take out your own non-owner insurance to make sure you’re covered in case of an accident. 

If you’re only borrowing a car temporarily, the vehicle owner’s insurance policy most likely has you covered. This is called permissive use car insurance, in which the driver and their insurance company give you temporary permission to drive the vehicle even though you aren’t listed on the policy. 

If you’re borrowing a car regularly or for an extended period of time, the best thing to do would be to have the car’s owner add you to their insurance as a listed driver. Some insurers will only allow you to be added to the policy if you and the owner live at the same address, but others may be more flexible. The car’s owner will have to talk to their insurance company to find out if this is possible in your scenario. 

If you frequently drive different cars that don’t belong to you – like if you borrow cars from multiple friends to run errands or participate in a peer-to-peer car-sharing service such as Zipcar – you may want to take out your own non-owner auto insurance policy. Non-owner insurance is for people who drive regularly but don’t own their own car, and it follows the driver, not the vehicle.

So, this policy would have you covered no matter what car you’re driving. The problem with non-owner insurance is that it’s extremely limited: It includes liability coverage, and you may be able to add on personal injury protection and/or uninsured motorist insurance, but it doesn’t cover any damage to the vehicle you’re driving. The owner’s auto insurance will have to take care of that. 

How Do I Get Insurance on a Car Given to Me as a Gift?

Say your parents give you their old car. Great! Thanks, folks! But what are you supposed to do about insurance? That mainly depends on where you live. 

If you live with the person who gave you the car and they already have insurance on the car, they may be able to add you to their policy as a listed driver. That way, you’re covered without having to transfer the car’s title and registration into your name. 

If you don’t live with the person who gave you the car, they probably won’t be able to add you to their insurance policy. For you to get auto insurance in this case, you’ll have to transfer the title and registration into your name. If the car’s owner doesn’t want to transfer ownership to you completely, they may be able to add you to the title as a co-owner. However, co-ownership may not be an option in your state if both owners don’t have the same permanent address. 

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How Does Insurance Work for a Company Car?

Even when your company gives you a car to drive, the company still owns the car. That means they’re responsible for insuring it. Your company will have to add you to their business auto insurance policy. You won’t be able to take out your own insurance on the car since you aren’t the owner. 

But if you own your own business and purchase a car for company use, you are responsible for insurance. Since the car is for your business, not your personal use, you’ll need to take out a business auto insurance policy on it. You’ll insure the car in either your name or the company’s name, whichever the car is registered under. 

Do I Need Insurance for a Rental Car?

If you have full coverage auto insurance on your own vehicle, your policy probably extends to rental cars. In this case, the same coverage that applies when you’re driving your own car applies to a rental, too. 

However, if you don’t have full coverage or don’t own a car at all, it’s a good idea to purchase the insurance offered by the rental company.

Can Someone Drive Your Car if They Are Not on Your Insurance?

Temporarily, yes. Your auto insurance coverage probably includes permissive use, which means your coverage extends to anyone driving your car for a short period of time. So, if your friend borrows your car once to run some errands and gets in an accident, your insurance will probably cover that, even if the driver isn’t listed on your policy. 

However, if someone else drives your car every day, your insurance company will most likely expect you to add them to your policy. If they get into an accident without being listed on your policy and your insurance company finds out that this person drives your car regularly, they may count it as misrepresentation and deny your claim. Then, you’ll be left to foot the bill out of your own pocket. 

These rules can vary from company to company, so it’s best to check with your insurer before letting someone else drive your car.

How to Get the Best Car Insurance

When you’re ready to get new auto insurance – in your own name, on your own car – Clovered can help you shop. We’re an independent agency that lets you compare auto insurance policies from different providers online and find the best fit for you in minutes. 

Ready to Save Money on Auto Insurance?

Rethink your auto insurance premium with a free quote from the nation's top companies.

The editorial content on Clovered’s website is meant to be informational material and should not be considered legal advice.

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