Q

Can I insure a car that’s not in my name?

A

In most cases, insuring a car you don’t own is unlikely.

Anna Swartz 1600

Anna Swartz

Published April 26, 2019

It’s not a common scenario, but there are some reasons why you might want to insure a car you don’t actually own — maybe it belongs to a family member, but you’re the only one driving it. Generally, whoever is the titled owner of a car needs to be the one to insure it. Car insurance companies want to make sure the primary policyholder has what’s called insurable interest in the car they’re insuring.

Insurable interest essentially means you have a reason to insure a vehicle. If you’re the car’s owner, the reason is self-evident: The car is your investment, so you have a stake in keeping it from being damaged or destroyed.

But it’s harder to prove your insurable interest if you don’t actually own a vehicle. When you’re trying to insure a vehicle you don’t own, car insurance companies will be wary of fraud, and be far less likely to allow you to take out a policy. But, while opening a policy on a car that you don’t own is rare, that doesn’t mean you don’t have options.

Proving insurable interest

In order to apply for a car insurance policy, you may need to show something that proves your insurable interest, like your car’s registration or your car’s title, also called a pink slip, which is an official document that says who owns a vehicle.

But if you don’t own a car, then it’s harder to prove to an insurance provider that you have a legitimate reason to insure it. Barring exceptional cases, it may not be possible for you to insure a car you don’t own. But one alternate option is to become an additional owner of the car by co-titling the vehicle.

How to co-title a car

Co-titling a vehicle means you’re adding an additional owner to a car. Each state’s Department of Motor Vehicles has specific requirements for doing this, but in order to add an owner to a car, you’ll likely need to jointly apply for a new title.

This usually involves filling out a form with the names and information of both drivers who will be listed on the title, paying a fee, and going to the DMV in person to sign the new title. If the car in question was purchased with a loan that hasn’t been fully paid off, then you’ll need to notify the lienholder and see if it’s possible to add an additional owner to the title.

But once you’re added to the title as a co-owner of a car, you’re free to get an insurance policy on that vehicle. As an owner, you can be the primary policyholder. But any other owner should also be listed on the car insurance policy.

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Non-owner insurance

While you may not be able to insure a car you don’t own, if you’d like to protect yourself as a driver you can look into something called non-owner car insurance. Ideal for drivers who frequently rent or borrow cars, non-owner insurance is a kind of pared-down car insurance policy.

It often just covers liability insurance, meaning it covers damage or injuries you cause while driving. You can sometimes add personal injury protection, which covers your own medical expenses if you cause an accident, or uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, which covers you if you’re in an accident caused by a driver without insurance, or whose insurance won’t cover the full extent of the damage.

But non-owner insurance doesn’t include the kind of coverage that’s designed to protect your vehicle, like collision and comprehensive coverage, because there’s no vehicle to protect. Still, if you find yourself frequently driving a car that doesn’t belong to you, getting non-owner insurance may be a more realistic option than trying to get a car insurance policy for a car that’s not in your name.

Policygenius’ editorial content is not written by an insurance agent. It’s intended for informational purposes and should not be considered legal or financial advice. Consult a professional to learn what financial products are right for you.