Can I Insure a Car Not in My Name?

Adding yourself to the owner’s policy is an option

A smiling man with glasses sits in driver's seat

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Typically, the person who owns a car also buys and maintains its insurance coverage. But that’s not always the case. Adult family members who share a vehicle may also share insurance costs, for example.

Insurers may allow non-owners to insure vehicles under the most common scenarios. But insuring another person’s automobile isn’t always easy. It may depend on the insurance company you choose and your state’s insurance laws.

Key Takeaways

  • Typically, you must have an insurable interest in a vehicle to buy an insurance policy for it.
  • Some insurers may allow you to buy insurance for another person’s car if the owner is a relative and you both live at the same address.
  • Students who take a parent’s automobile to college in another state may need to buy their own insurance policy.
  • Buying non-owner car insurance is one way to carry auto insurance if you don’t own an automobile.

Can I Insure a Car I Don’t Own?

Usually, the person insuring a car has an insurable interest in the property. They make the payments and their name is on the title, so they buy insurance because they could be liable in a car accident. 

However, the person who owns the car and the person who drives the car isn’t always the same. Scenarios in which buying insurance for a car you don’t own would include:

  • A college student who takes a parent’s vehicle to college but purchases their own policy
  • An elderly relative no longer drives and has offered her automobile to you to borrow
  • A high school graduate planning to continue their education who can afford the cost of insurance but can’t afford their own set of wheels

There are numerous reasons why you may need to buy auto insurance for a vehicle you don’t own. But will an insurance company allow you to? It may depend on the state in which you live, whether you are related to the car owner, and whether you and the owner live at the same address.

How to Get a Car Insured When You Don’t Own It

Reasons for insuring another person’s vehicle vary and the conditions in which you can insure someone else’s car can differ among insurance companies. Generally, though, you have the following options:

Ask the Owner to Add You to the Automobile’s Policy

If the car owner is a relative and you share the same address, ask the owner to add you to their auto insurance policy’s driver list. In some cases, a roommate may add you to their policy as a driver, but only if they hold the title to the vehicle.

If each person in the household has their own vehicle, they need separate car insurance policies. And if you share each other’s cars, your insurers may allow you to extend coverage to each driver.

If you’re a college student using a car that your parents own, some insurers will allow you to continue coverage or add your name to the policy’s list of covered drivers if you attend school in the same state. But if you go to school in another state or your name isn’t listed on the title, you may need to purchase your own policy.

Purchase Non-Owner Insurance

If you don’t own a vehicle, but sometimes borrow a car from a friend or relative, non-owner insurance may provide the coverage you need. Non-owner policies often provide barebones coverage, often just bodily injury liability and personal property liability. Some non-owner policies may also offer medical payments, personal injury protection (PIP), uninsured and underinsured motorist, and rental car liability coverages.

But non-owner policies don’t include collision and comprehensive coverages. So, if you borrow a car from a friend and are at fault for an accident, your non-owner insurance policy will help pay the medical and property damage costs of the other driver, but they won’t pay to fix your friend’s automobile.

If you choose a non-owner policy, it’s important to know the types of coverages the vehicle’s owner carries, and if their collision and comprehensive coverages extend to you when you borrow the automobile.

Alternatives to Insuring a Car You Don’t Own

If you have trouble finding a carrier that will allow you to buy insurance for another person’s car, you may have another option.

Depending on which state you live in, you may be able to co-title the automobile. For example, California allows up to two co-owners for a vehicle.

Co-titling can create survivorship issues because the names on a title typically imply ownership. If the California title doesn’t include “tenants in common” following the names on the title, the vehicle will pass to the other named person on the title if one dies.

New York also allows up to two people to co-title a car. However, you can only insure the automobile in both names. In addition, all co-titled vehicles must be registered in New York and must carry minimum levels of New York State liability coverages.

How Much Does Car Insurance Cost?

According to a AAA study, in 2020, a new car costs an average of $1,202 per year to insure. But insurance premiums are subjective and based on individual factors such as your age, types and levels of coverage, credit history (in most states), driving history, make and model of the vehicle, and marital status.

Who Has the Cheapest Car Insurance?

Car insurance rates are based on your personal rating factors and can vary widely by state. When shopping for auto insurance, request rates from several providers to find the best price. Also, turn to trusted sources such as J.D. Power to find providers that rank highly in your region.

How Much Car Insurance Do I Need?

All states besides New Hampshire and Virginia require certain minimum levels of auto insurance (although in Virginia you must pay the $500 uninsured motor vehicle fee if you choose not to carry insurance). Besides bodily injury liability and property damage liability, some states also require you to carry other types of coverage, such as medical payments, personal injury protection (PIP), and uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance.

What Does Car Insurance Cover?

Common auto insurance coverages include bodily injury and property damage liability, which help pay the medical expenses and property damage costs of another driver when you’re at fault for an accident. Collision coverage pays to repair your car following a covered loss. Comprehensive coverage pays for non-collision losses, such as a broken window, storm damage, theft, and vandalism. 

Each state has minimum liability coverage requirements. If you lease or finance a vehicle, you’ll also need to meet the lender’s or leasing company’s collision and comprehensive coverage requirements.

Article Sources

  1. State of California Department of Motor Vehicles. "Vehicle Industry Registration Procedures Manual."

  2. New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. "New York State Insurance Requirements."

  3. AAA. "How Much Does It Really Cost To Own a New Car," Page 1.