Can I buy car insurance without having a license?

UPDATED: May 10, 2022Fact Checked

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Sara Routhier, Managing Editor and Outreach Director, has professional experience as an educator, SEO specialist, and content marketer. She has over five years of experience in the insurance industry. As a researcher, data nerd, writer, and editor she strives to curate educational, enlightening articles that provide you with the must-know facts and best-kept secrets within the overwhelming world o...

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Written by Sara Routhier
Director of Outreach Sara Routhier

Cynthia Lanctot is an insurance professional with ten years of industry experience. Cynthia is licensed in several states, and holds an associate in claims law, as well as a bachelor’s degree in English. Cynthia’s experience includes the New England and Northeast states. She currently works as a liability claims professional and an occasional online contributor.

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Reviewed by Cynthia Lanctot
Licensed Agent Cynthia Lanctot

UPDATED: May 10, 2022

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Most people know that if they are going to drive in the United States, they will have to have some form of insurance, typically at least the state minimum depending on where they live. Other people, including those that own a car but can no longer drive, as well as some who own a car that will be driven by another person, may want to carry insurance on that vehicle either because they are still responsible for the car or because they are not confident that the person driving it will get the proper insurance.

But can you get car insurance without a license? Is it hard to find an insurance company that will cover you? There are some limits to getting an affordable auto insurance policy without a motor vehicle, but it can be done if you work with the best auto insurance companies.

Keep in mind that you must be a valid driver with a valid license in order to purchase a policy from almost any insurance company. Some auto insurers will provide a policy for an unlicensed driver in certain situations. This includes if you only have a provisional license (sometimes called permits) but you are a primary driver, or if you have a hardship driver’s license.

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What if you own a vehicle but don’t drive?

Owning, driving, and insuring a vehicle are three separate considerations. You can own a car but never expect to drive it for several reasons:

  • You have health issues or are disabled and will no longer be physically able to drive the car on either a permanent or temporary basis.
  • You no longer have a driver’s license but still want to maintain the vehicle title to the car that is in your name.
  • The primary driver, or the licensed driver that you are allowing to drive your car, cannot title or insure the car in their own name for legal reasons.
  • You want to maintain legal control over the car and the insurance coverage for an underage driver until the designated driver is of a certain age or has met certain requirements.
  • Your own license has been suspended or revoked for some reason.

In the case of the license suspension, you may be required to get and maintain an SR-22 insurance filing before you can get your license back. You may have to show paperwork (an SR-22 form) that you are in this process before the insurer will write your coverage. Some companies will not cover you until your license is back in good standing, so you always have to shop around to find the best deal for your circumstances. It is difficult to buy an auto policy without a driver’s license but it is not impossible; keep in mind, drivers in this situation pose more risk to a provider and typically pay higher insurance premiums. You may also require SR-22 insurance even with a valid license if you are considered a high-risk driver, have a history of at-fault accidents, or traffic violations.

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What if you own the title and live with the primary driver?

Retaining the title to the car means that you are still legally liable for anything that happens with that car so you will need liability insurance coverage at the very least. If you own a vehicle, it must be covered by insurance, which should cover not only the vehicle but the driver as well. Since that will not be you, it will be the primary person that you list and the insurance rate will be based on their factors, including gender, age, and driving history, rather than on your own. If you share an address with that person, you may be considered a potential driver, and that can increase your premium because it will cover two drivers rather than one. You may be able to have that waived, however, if:

  • You can prove that you would be physically incapable of driving the vehicle.
  • You provide information about why you cannot drive and why the car is still titled in your name.

What are the benefits of shopping around for auto insurance rates for those without a license?

If you merely limited your search to just one place, you might have walked away thinking that you cannot get cheap auto insurance quotes without having a driver’s license. There are a number of websites that lead off with this statement purely so that you will click through and learn that you can in fact get insurance but “only” through a select few companies. This is not as true as they would lead you to believe, so always do careful and thorough research, not only in terms of finding the coverage that you need but for pricing as well.

To get the best possible quote when you’re not the primary driver:

  • Always explain your personal situation right away.
  • Provide any documentation that would support your claim, especially if you are permanently disabled but still plan to maintain legal ownership of your vehicle. This is common when one family member would like for people to come and run errands for them but does not want to just hand over their car.
  • Always choose the designated driver that will give you a fair premium, but do not lie. It will not do you any good to list one person if they only drive you a few times a year and someone else drives the rest of the time.
  • If your license has been suspended and you are looking for insurance to be able to get it returned to you, make sure the agent knows this upfront. They can give you the advice that you need to not only get the best insurance from a legal standpoint but may also be able to make the process easier for you as well.

What else should you consider?

Auto insurance coverage is very complex, especially when you consider the various laws of each state. Almost every state requires some form of insurance for all drivers and/or car owners. The exceptions are Virginia, which allows drivers to pay a fee to the state instead of having personal auto insurance, and New Hampshire and Mississippi, which allow drivers to opt for cash bonds instead of insurance coverage as well. In every other state, you must carry at least state minimum insurance, which includes coverage for injury and property damage to others. Additional coverage, which will cover your own losses and provides additional services such as towing or car rental assistance, can also be selected at a higher cost.

Getting the right level of insurance options at a price that you can actually afford is very important, especially considering the high cost of replacing vehicles these days. Medical payments for injuries during an accident can also be quite high, so that is another important consideration.

While it may seem that insurance is expensive, it is not as expensive as the cost of fines, court costs, and other legal issues that can arise if you do not have insurance even on a car that you are no longer able to drive. If you are going to own a car, it is always best to carry insurance, driver’s license or not. Your best bet is to enter your zip code and see if one of the companies has an option for no license insurance.

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