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Can you get car insurance without a license?

Why you may need car insurance even if you can’t drive.

The idea of purchasing car insurance without a driver’s license seems counterintuitive — kind of like buying a flight to a foreign country without a passport. But you can get car insurance without a license — and in some cases, it's in your best interest.

While it’s possible to get car insurance without a license, it isn’t an easy thing to do, as most carriers typically ask for a valid driver’s license number when you apply. Obviously, you run into a problem from the outset — if you don’t have a driver’s license, how do you get car insurance? Better yet, in what scenario do you even want to buy car insurance without a license?

There are actually several scenarios where buying car insurance without a license is as much a necessity as it is a practicality. Maybe you own a car and don’t have a license, but your spouse or kids plan on cruising it around and they need auto coverage. Or perhaps you can no longer drive, but keep a car on hand so that someone is able to drive you to work or appointments.

Read on to learn more about why you may want to buy car insurance without a drivers license:

Reasons to buy car insurance without a license

There are a variety of instances where buying auto insurance without a license is necessary. Here is a list of circumstances where unlicensed drivers may want to invest in auto coverage.

You have an underage driver

Most states don’t allow people under the age of 18 to enter into a contract. That means if you have a relative like a teenage son or daughter who drives, you may need to be included on the contract, even if you don’t have a license. Car insurance is particularly pricey for high school and college-aged kids, so it’s worth looking into car insurance discounts for students to try and offset those high rates.

You have a personal chauffeur

People who ride around in the backs of Bentleys, Rolls Royces and other fancy cars need to have insurance coverage for their automobile and driver, but chauffeurs aren’t just for the rich and famous. Senior citizens who can’t drive anymore and don’t have a license may also need to purchase car insurance for whoever is driving them from A to B every day.

Car insurance starts to increase as you reach retirement age, as older drivers are seen as a risk to insurers. However, if you’re not listed as the primary driver, the age factor shouldn’t matter, and you may even be able to apply certain discounts to your car insurance policy.

You’re trying to get your license

Most states offer provisional licenses to people learning how to drive. But there’s no such thing as provisional insurance. If you’re driving a car with a learner’s permit, whether you’re a teenager or an adult, the vehicle you’re driving must be insured.

You own a vintage automobile

Let’s say you have a car worthy of a museum or auto show that you don’t actually drive. Sure, you may not need comprehensive, collision or personal injury coverages, but you’re going to want to protect it from full or partial loss just as you would your home or, say, a boat. Most of these types of car insurance policies are sold by specialty insurers, and also can include standard automobile coverages in case you’re tempted to take it out for a little spin with your besties some sunny afternoon.

You have health issues

If you aren’t able to drive due to physical impairment but need a caregiver to drive your vehicle for you, you may be able to insure your car for that specific person or persons to drive.

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Car insurance with a suspended license

Drivers with suspended licenses — either because of DUI, traffic violation, or failing to pay child support — have different options for getting car insurance than people who just outright never got their license or had their license taken away.

That’s because the insurance rules change slightly once the state gets involved, as states require that carriers submit SR-22 compliance to them — basic confirmation that the suspended driver possesses the state-minimum amounts of liability coverage — on behalf of the suspended driver. Insurance companies are only required to submit an SR-22 if ordered to do so by the court or state.

SR-22 insurance may be required if you:

  • were convicted of a DUI

  • caused an accident and you didn’t have insurance

  • have been convicted of repeat traffic offenses in a short period of time

  • were caught driving on a suspended license

Keep in mind that every insurer is able to provide SR-22 coverage, but aren’t required to, and may choose to deny you coverage if they deem you too much of a risk.

Buying car insurance without a driver’s license

When you apply for auto insurance, you need to include a valid driver’s license number. If you don’t have a license, you can’t provide that number, and that makes insurance companies uncomfortable.

But there is a workaround: Instead of including your own driver’s license number, some companies will allow you to apply for a policy using the name and license number of the principal driver or primary driver

Who can be a primary driver?

Any licensed driver can be named your primary driver, regardless of whether they live with you or not. If you’re insuring a car for your spouse, you list her as a primary driver. If it’s for your daughter, you list her. If you’re buying insurance on a car so your friend can drive you around, you need your friend’s name and license info.

Insurers use driving records as one of many factors to determine car insurance rates. That’s why a driver’s license number is required, and it’s also why it’s okay if that license number isn’t yours – as long as it’s the primary driver’s. The insurer wants to set the rates based on likely activity with the car; if someone else is going to be driving a vehicle the most, having their driving record be a factor in calculating your rate for coverage makes sense.

What is an excluded driver?

Depending on the insurance company you choose, you may also need to name yourself as an excluded driver on the policy, which is exactly what it sounds like: it means your car insurance doesn’t apply when you’re driving.

You can’t drive your car if you don’t have a valid license, and your insurance company wants to make sure you know that — and that they won’t pay if you do. Car insurance does not give you permission to drive a car — only a valid driver’s license does that. If you don’t have a driver’s license, you can’t legally drive — period.

If you’re planning on getting a license in the future, once you get your license, you’ll have to contact your insurance company to get named as a driver on the policy — until then, you won’t be covered, even if you have your license. Be aware also that your rates may change — as a new driver, you’ll likely be rated at a higher rate than your previous primary driver.

Keep in mind, while many insurers will let you include a primary driver other than yourself on an insurance policy, not all will; each insurer will be different, so you may need to shop around more than you’d like to find a company willing to take you on. There also may be different rules regarding insured drivers, depending on your state. Most of the national insurers — like State Farm and Allstate — will turn you away if you don’t have a license. This leaves you with the smaller, regional carriers to choose from.

Be wary, however, of insurers who don’t require any sort of license information. These are typically those smaller insurers, not major players, and you may not be getting the best price or coverage with them since driving records determine what rates and coverage you’ll be offered. It’d be best to avoid carriers who don’t require that information.

If you’re in the market for auto insurance, whether it’s for yourself, your business or your family, it’s good to understand just how much insurance coverage you need for your particular circumstances. Policygenius can help you with that.

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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.

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