Key takeaways

  • If you don’t have a license but need car insurance, most insurers will require you to list at least one licensed driver on the policy.
  • If you own a car that is registered in your name but have no license, you still need to purchase car insurance to cover the vehicle if you want to legally register it in most states.
  • Reasons you might buy car insurance with no license include having another licensed driver driving your car, having a student driver or having a suspended license.

In almost every state in the U.S., individuals must have car insurance to drive legally on public roads. But what if you own a car and don’t have a license? In that case, you may be wondering, “can I register and insure a car without a license?” You may be able to do so, depending on why you are without a license and where you live. Bankrate’s insurance editorial team took a careful look at different scenarios so we could compile some helpful suggestions on how to handle your insurance needs if you are in this situation.

How to buy car insurance without a license

Even without a license, there may be various ways to obtain auto insurance. However, every insurance company has different eligibility criteria for insuring vehicles and some may not offer you insurance if you do not have a driver’s license. Others may require additional steps to add an unlicensed driver to a policy. Working with a licensed insurance agent may help answer any carrier-specific questions you have about buying car insurance without a license. We’ve put together a few things to consider doing if you are trying to register and insure your car without a license.

Ask about an SR-22 certificate if your license has been suspended

If your license is suspended, you may need to file an SR-22 form or the equivalent in your state. An SR-22 certificate is proof that you’ve satisfied the minimum insurance requirements in your state. Working with a carrier that offers SR-22 certificates may allow you to obtain insurance even if your license has been suspended.

Consider buying a policy with someone else listed as the primary driver

A primary driver on an insurance policy is the vehicle owner or the joint owner of a vehicle who drives it the most. If you own a car but don’t drive it, you may be able to list someone else as the primary driver on your insurance policy. Some insurance companies might require that the driver is part of your household, but speaking with a licensed agent that represents your insurer may help you determine the company’s requirements. In this situation, you’ll likely need the driver’s authorization as well as their identifying information and driver’s license number.

It may be easier to maintain car insurance coverage without a license if you add a co-owner to your vehicle. If the vehicle co-owner is the insurance policyholder, you may be listed as an insurable interest or an excluded driver for registration purposes. Remember that if you’re an excluded driver, you have no coverage if you drive the vehicle. If you get your license after obtaining the policy, you may be able to adjust the policy and coverage accordingly.

Store your vehicle with coverage in place

If you plan to garage or store a vehicle registered in your name for an extended period of time, you will still likely need to maintain an insurance policy for the car, especially if you want coverage for the vehicle in case of damage while in storage. If the vehicle is registered in your name and you do not maintain continuous coverage while it is stored, you may experience rate hikes for a lapse in coverage.

Although you may still likely need to list another driver as the primary driver on the policy if you don’t have a license, you may be able to save on insurance while your car is stored. Some carriers, like USAA, offer a discount on stored vehicles. If your car is not being driven, you may also be able to reduce your coverage to just comprehensive insurance. This coverage type is designed to cover damage from theft, vandalism, fire and other incidents that could occur while the car is stored. Talk to your insurance agent to see if this is an option.

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Do I need car insurance if I don’t have a license?

You may be wondering, can I have car insurance without a license? It may sound odd to suggest that someone who will not be driving would need auto insurance, but auto insurance is a requirement in most states if you want to legally register your car. In addition to meeting legal requirements as a car owner, there are scenarios where having a policy without a license may be in your best interest:

Health reasons prevent you from driving

If you have a health condition that prevents you from driving, you may still want to consider maintaining auto insurance. If you put your car in storage for a while and your license expires while you recover, keeping a policy in place may protect your financial investment in your vehicle in case anything happens to your car while in storage.

You may also want to keep an auto insurance policy in place if you think you may drive again in the future to avoid a lapse in coverage, which could result in a higher rate when you seek coverage again.

You don’t drive your car, but others still do

Car insurance covers the car, not the person. Even if you are not the main driver for your car, you likely still need auto insurance to cover your vehicle. You may be able to do this by listing another person as the primary driver of the vehicle and maintaining yourself as an excluded driver on the policy.

You are a student driver or only hold a provisional license

Teen drivers with a learner’s permit typically need to have auto insurance, even though they are not technically licensed. Student drivers usually learn to drive in their parent’s insured vehicle. The insurance company may require the student driver to be listed on the policy, although a teen with only a permit will usually be included free of charge until they receive their license.

You do not drive, but your student driver does

Say you purchase a car for your teen’s 16th birthday before they get a driver’s license. Even if no one is driving the vehicle yet, the car will still need to be insured. In almost every state, you will not be able to register the car with the department of motor vehicles unless you can show proof of insurance first. And if your teenager is not old enough to be on their own policy, they would need to be listed as a driver on the policy of someone age 18 or older. Adding a teen to your policy can increase your rates significantly, so you may want to shop around and compare car insurance quotes to see which company offers you the lowest rate.

You own a vintage vehicle that you do not drive

If you purchase a vintage car that sits in your garage, you may still need to have insurance on it to be financially protected against damage or theft. Even if you have no intention of getting behind the wheel, you may want to purchase a policy that covers comprehensive claims only (in addition to standard liability). This may cover your vintage car in the event of damage caused by animals, weather events, theft, fire and vandalism.

Your license is suspended

Depending on your state, your license may be suspended if you are convicted of a DUI or other reckless driving incident. If that is the case, you might not be able to get your license reinstated until you have shown proof of financial responsibility with an SR-22 certificate. An SR-22 is not a type of insurance but is a certificate issued by your insurer that proves to the DMV that you have the minimum amount of liability insurance required by your state.

Frequently asked questions

    • Yes, certain car insurance options may be available to you with a suspended license. You will probably need to have your insurer file an SR-22 certificate or equivalent in your state to get your license reinstated. SR-22s are a common requirement for high-risk drivers that demonstrates they carry the minimum required amount of liability insurance in their state.
    • The average cost of car insurance in the U.S. is $2,542 per year for full coverage and $740 per year for minimum coverage. Whether your car insurance will be more expensive depends on the reason you don’t have a license. Auto insurance companies calculate rates based on risk, so if your license has been suspended and you need an SR-22 to obtain coverage, you will likely be classified as a high-risk driver and pay more for car insurance. If your vehicle co-owner is the policyholder, your premiums will be influenced by their personal rating factors; if they are a good driver with a clean claims history, your rates should be on the cheaper side. But if they have multiple accidents on their record, you’ll likely pay more. If you are just holding your car in storage and not driving it, your auto insurance rates will likely be a lot lower.
    • Yes, in nearly all states, any vehicle you own that will be driven must be insured, even if you don’t have a valid driver’s license.
    • Finding the cheapest car insurance really depends on your unique situation. Since car insurance companies take numerous factors into account (and weigh them differently) to calculate your premium, no two people are likely to get the same quote from the same company—nor will the same person get the same quote from two different companies.To find the cheapest car insurance company for you, make a list of what’s important to you in a car insurance company (customer service, options to customize, etc.). Then find a few car insurance companies that fit your criteria and request quotes for the same coverage types and levels. Be sure you are asking the insurer to apply all discounts for which you qualify to get the cheapest rates. Compare the quotes to see which policy is right for you.
    • Yes, it may be possible to get car insurance with a learner’s permit, but the process will vary depending on the insurance company and the regulations in your location. Student drivers are often in their teens, so it’s likely they will not be on their own policy but will instead be added to an existing policy owned by their parents or guardians. Insurers in most areas will not, in fact, allow minors under the age of 18 to purchase their own insurance. Drivers with a learner’s permit who are over the age of 18 may be on their parents’ policy, or they may have their own coverage. If the latter, it is likely that they will also need to have a licensed adult named as the primary driver on the policy. Although regulations vary from state to state, the licensed driver is usually expected to be present in the car when the learner is driving.
    • The best car insurance company for your needs may not be the same one as your neighbor’s. When looking for the insurer that’s best for you, consider your priorities. If you have a young driver in your household, for example, you may want to look at companies known for writing affordable insurance for teens. If you work from home or are retired, a good choice could be a company that offers mileage-based insurance. If you have an excellent driving record, you might want to review companies that offer significant discounts for utilizing a telematics program. Having a sense of your most important priorities will help you find a company that’s a good match for your needs.