Insuring a car is typically simple enough. You buy a vehicle, shop around for the best car insurance and get coverage for your car. But there are times when things get more complicated. For example, you may want to insure your partner’s or teen’s car, which is in their name and not yours.

So, can you insure a car you don’t own? If so, how? If not, what are the alternatives for car insurance? Follow along; we’ve got you covered.

Can you insure a car you don't own?

Most often, the answer is no, but this is reliant upon the insurance company and their specific policies.

But first, let’s talk about ownership.

Key Takeaways

  • You cannot usually get car insurance on a vehicle that is not in your name, but there are exceptions.
  • Non-owner insurance is an option for people who don't own a vehicle but want to be covered with liability coverage in case of accidents.
  • If you are not the owner of a car, but would like to be insured on it, it may be easier to get added as an additional insured on their auto insurance policy.

When it comes to car insurance, legal ownership isn’t about who paid for the car. The owner of the car is on the registration and title of the car. A standard auto insurance policy is only written in the name of the person who has legal ownership of the car. Insurance companies view this ownership as insurable interest, which is a motivating factor in keeping the vehicle in good condition.

Along with that, many states prohibit a vehicle's registration in a different name than is on the proof of insurance.

Therefore, you cannot usually get car insurance on a vehicle that is not in your name, but there are exceptions.

insure a car that is not in your name

Adding a car to your insurance policy if it’s not in your name

So, when can you insure a vehicle that is not in your name? After all, it’s not a very common scenario. Some reasons why you might be inquiring about getting insurance on a vehicle you don’t own include:

  • You’d like to add the vehicle owner’s name to your existing policy.
  • You have a financial stake or insurable interest in the car.
  • You’re related to and/or live in the same household as the vehicle owner.
  • Someone is moving in with you, and you may share the vehicle.

In some of these scenarios, there are more feasible alternatives than trying to insure the car you don’t own. We will get into the alternatives next.

Though most major insurers will not sell you an insurance policy on a car that is not legally yours, some major insurers, like Progressive, say they will.

“The best rule of thumb is to speak with your insurance agent about their rule on the topic,” says Penny Gusner, senior consumer analyst for Insure. “It’s much better to ask about your specific situation and get the car insured properly than to assume you can insure a car you don’t own and find out you were wrong when a claim gets denied.”

How to insure a car you don’t own

Insuring a car other than your own can be difficult, but there are a few ways that can help: 

Share same address with the car owner

If you live at the same address as a car owner, it's easy to be added on their insurance policy. The vehicle owner just needs to contact their insurance company and tell them that they would like your name to be included to their auto insurance policy.

Adding your name to car owners auto insurance

Adding yourself to the title of a car can be difficult and expensive if you don't own it. But to get insured you will have to show proof to the insurance company that you are dependent on this vehicle in order to get supplementary coverage from insurer, but not all insurance companies offer these types of plans.

Adding vehicle owner to your policy

You may consider adding the vehicle owner's name to your insurance policy. This way, you can make sure that it will be covered in case of any accidents or damage.

Alternatives to insuring a car you don’t own

If you have trouble convincing your insurance company to insure a car you don’t own, there are workarounds to consider:

Buy non-owner car insurance 

Non-owner car insurance is car insurance for drivers who don’t own a car. If you plan on borrowing a car regularly, non-owner car insurance will provide liability coverage for any vehicle you drive. Liability insurance pays for damages you cause to third parties, which may be enough for your needs, but it won’t cover the vehicle against loss or damages if you’re at-fault in an accident.

“Be aware non-owner car insurance coverage will be secondary to the car owner’s policy,” Gusner notes. “If you regularly borrow one specific car, I would recommend first seeing about being added as a driver to their policy.”

If you're not the owner of the vehicle but want to make sure you have liability coverage to supplement whatever the owner of car has, non-owner insurance can be an option with affordable insurance rates.

Ask to get added to the car owner’s insurance policy

Instead of trying to buy car insurance for a car you don’t own, it may be easier to get added to the owner’s auto insurance policy instead. This scenario only works if the vehicle owner is your roommate or family member who lives with you. Most car insurance companies are more willing to add an additional driver to an insurance policy than to insure a car that’s not in your name.

Become a co-owner or owner on the title 

Depending on your state, you may be able to get added as a co-owner on the vehicle’s registration. Once you’re on the title and registration, you’ll get a new title and be able to get an insurance policy on the vehicle.

As an alternative, consider asking the title bearer to transfer the vehicle ownership over to you. The titleholder must own the car outright or pay it off in full first. Many states allow the gifting of a vehicle, saving you sales tax. However, it’s best to double-check this method with an accountant. You may save on sales tax but end up subject to a federal gift tax on the car's value.

Rely on permissive use 

If you’re planning to use the car occasionally, you don’t need an insurance policy if the owner already insures it. Insurance policies give non-owners of vehicles permissive use, which means licensed drivers who have been given permission to use the vehicle every now and then are covered without being named on the auto insurance policy.

Frequently asked questions

Can I get insurance on a car that is not in my name?

Typically, you cannot insure a car that you do not legally own unless your insurance company is willing to consider something other than registration as insurable interest. Some companies, like Progressive, are an exception to this rule.

Can someone else insure my financed car?

Although someone else may be able to insure your financed car, the bank or lending institution is the primary lienholder. Any insurance checks or payouts would be paid to the financing company.

Can someone else register my car in their name?

It all depends on the state. Generally, someone else may be able to register your car in their name, but only if you give them permission. You may also add a co-owner to your vehicle registration, showing both your names on the title.

Can someone else insure my car if the title is under my name?

Generally, no. A person cannot get an auto insurance policy on a car that they do not legally own unless they can prove to the insurance company that they have an insurable interest in the vehicle.

Does your car insurance and registration have to be under the same name?

As with all insurance questions, the answer may vary from state to state and depending on the insurance company. Some insurers are warier of fraud than others and may not allow a car to be insured by a non-owner.

New York requires names on the registration and insurance to match. Other states are more flexible. Regardless, the claims process will be more complex if you choose to insure a car you don’t own or allow someone else to insure your vehicle. To simplify the situation, consider adding the person to your vehicle’s title as a co-owner and/or naming the person on your car insurance policy.

Can I get car insurance quotes on a car that is not in my name?

This depends on the insurance company as well as the information you have regarding the vehicle you're trying to get insurance coverage for. It is important to be honest with the insurance company about the situation so they can make sure you have an insurable interest in the car for which you're trying to get car insurance rates. Depending on the situation, insurance companies may be willing to provide insurance quotes even if you're not the owner of the car, but that does not mean they'll sell you a policy.

Can you get insurance for a car not registered to you?

For those who want to get car insurance but do not own a vehicle, there are some exceptions. The basic requirement is that you have ‘insurable interest’ in the vehicle; however, many states and auto insurance companies will still refuse cover for people with no ownership of the car.

Does a car have to be in your name to get insurance?

In most cases, it will be difficult to insure a car that is not in your name. But you can co-title a car or add someone as an insured to your auto policy.

Do you have to be the registered owner of a vehicle to insure it?

Although it is not so easy to get insurance on a vehicle is you are not the registered owner but there are exceptions. Non-owner insurance policies provide liability coverage to people who don’t own the vehicle and are driving someone else's car.