Can I Get Car Insurance Before the Title Transfer?

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Updated: May 20, 2024

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Auto insurance providers will sell you car insurance even if you can't submit a title yet. Most insurance companies will allow you to start a policy without the title as long as you can provide proof of ownership. This can be shown with a bill of sale, a lease agreement or a bank statement showing that you have a loan on the vehicle.

Depending on where you live and how you bought the car, you may need to show proof of insurance before the title transfer.

Even if you haven't transferred the title yet, having insurance ready is a good idea. This will ensure you're covered immediately, especially if you plan to drive the car right after buying it.

Key Takeaways

Auto insurance providers can still assist you if you don't have a car title, as long as you can provide an alternative proof of ownership.

Other forms of proof of ownership include a bill of sale, lease agreement or a bank statement.

The best time to get car insurance is before you get your new car.

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How To Get Car Insurance Before the Title Transfer

You can buy insurance before you even purchase a new car.

Start by shopping around for insurance when you decide to buy a vehicle; compare different policies to find the best fit. Gather all relevant details about the car as well as your personal information, like age, location and driving history, to streamline the quoting process.

After selecting a policy, make sure you can provide proof of insurance, whether digital or physical. This will be vital for the title transfer and meeting legal driving requirements.

Shop Around

Begin by allocating time to compare different auto insurance policies, contacting multiple insurers for varied quotes. Different insurers may offer diverse rates for the same information. After reviewing quotes and considering factors like coverage limits, deductibles and customer reviews, select the policy that offers the best value. When purchasing, specify the effective date to coincide with the title transfer, ensuring you're covered from the moment you take ownership.

Provide Vehicle Details

Make sure this information is ready when you contact your insurer:

  • Make and model
  • Year
  • Mileage
  • Date of purchase
  • Purchase price
  • VIN (Vehicle Identification Number)

The VIN is essential as it provides specific information about the car, including its history, which can influence your insurance premium.

Gather Your Personal Data

Your personal details play a significant role in determining your insurance premium. Your age, location and driving history can influence how much you'll pay.

Be prepared to provide your:

  • Full name
  • Address
  • date of birth
  • driving history
  • Credit score
Get Proof of Insurance

After finalizing your policy, the insurance company will issue proof of insurance, typically a card or document confirming your active policy. This proof is essential when transferring the title, especially if you're purchasing from a dealership or your state requires insurance, and it's what you'll present during traffic stops. Many insurers now offer digital proof of insurance accessible via a smartphone app, but keeping a physical copy in your vehicle is still advisable, especially if you're traveling to areas with limited digital access.

Do You Need Insurance To Transfer a Title?

Having insurance sorted out in advance can make the buying process easier. If you're purchasing from a dealership, they'll often ask for proof of insurance before you can drive the vehicle off the lot. Similar to the car registration process, some states may require proof of insurance when titling a car.

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    State Requirements

    • Some states require proof of insurance before allowing a title transfer. This ensures the new owner has the necessary insurance coverage to legally operate the vehicle on public roads once the title is in their name.
    • For example, in Georgia, you need to submit proof of insurance when transferring a title.
    • However, not all states have this requirement. Some might allow the title transfer without immediate proof of insurance, primarily if the vehicle won't be operated right away.
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    Private Sales

    • In private sales, you might not need to present proof of insurance to the seller. However, you won’t be able to legally drive off with your new car without insurance. In this case, it’s still better to let your insurance provider know you’re buying a new car before the sale.
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    Purchasing a Car in a Dealership

    • Dealerships often require proof of insurance before you can drive the car off the lot. This protects their interests, ensuring the vehicle is covered from the moment it leaves their premises.
    • Since most people drive away with their new car, having insurance ensures you're covered for any incidents as soon as you hit the road.
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    Financing Your Car

    • If you're financing a car, the lender will typically require comprehensive and collision insurance to protect their investment. Until the loan is paid off, the lender has a financial stake in the vehicle.
    • While the title will be in your name as the registered owner, the lender will be listed as the lienholder. They might require proof of insurance before finalizing the financing agreement.
    • You'll likely be required to insure your car with full coverage insurance.
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    Buying a Car for Restoration

    • Some states might allow a title transfer without immediate proof of insurance if the car isn't going to be on the road. However, it's essential to check local regulations and consider getting at least some form of insurance coverage.
    • Even if you are not planning on driving the car, you are still responsible for it if it gets damaged or stolen. Having insurance will protect you from financial liability in the event of an accident or theft.
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    Buying a Car for Parts

    Some states might still require a basic form of insurance or a specific type of title (like a salvage title) for cars bought for parts. Always check local regulations.

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Your state may not have specific laws about auto insurance requirements during a title transfer, but you almost always need to register when titling it. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will be able to check if your policy meets the state’s minimum car insurance requirements. The DMV will also be alerted if you cancel your policy. Check if your state requires auto insurance for registration.

Do You Need a Car Title To Get Car Insurance?

No, auto insurance companies do not always require a title to purchase a policy.

When you get car insurance, providers usually ask for the car title, as it shows you own the vehicle and helps insurers set your insurance rate.

However, car insurance companies do not always require a physical title to initiate a policy. In fact, most will allow you to start coverage without the title, provided you can offer proof of ownership. This proof can come in the form of a bill of sale, a lease agreement or even a bank statement indicating a loan on the vehicle.

Exceptions do exist. For instance, some insurers may require you to acquire the title when buying a used car from a private seller. Furthermore, while the insurance company might not always need the title, some states mandate it for vehicle registration.


A car title is a document that confirms you're the rightful owner. It lists essential details like the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), the car's make, model, year and your name and address. On the other hand, car registration is like your vehicle's passport. It's the official stamp of approval that says, "Yes, this car is good to go on public roads."

While your state may not require proof of insurance before transferring a car title, you may still need one to register your new car.

Will My Car Insurance Cover My New Car?

Insurance companies often give you seven to 30 days to add a new car to your policy. During the "grace period," the insurer will cover your new car for a short time, even if you haven't added it. This allows you to drive your new vehicle immediately without worries. However, if you don't add your new car to your policy within the given timeframe, you'll be driving uninsured.

Not all policies include these grace periods; when they do, they might not apply to financed cars.

You can also update your policy before getting your new car. Just set the start date for when you'll start owning the vehicle. This way, you're covered as soon as you get the keys.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you get car insurance before the title transfer?
What type of car insurance do you need when transferring the title of a financed car?
How long do you have to get car insurance after buying a used car?

About Mark Fitzpatrick

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Mark Fitzpatrick has analyzed the property and casualty insurance market for over five years, conducting original research and creating personalized content for every kind of buyer. Currently, he leads P&C insurance content production at MoneyGeek. Fitzpatrick has been quoted in several insurance-related publications, including CNBC, NBC News and Mashable.

Fitzpatrick earned a master’s degree in economics and international relations from Johns Hopkins University and a bachelor’s degree from Boston College. He is passionate about using his knowledge of economics and insurance to bring transparency around financial topics and help others feel confident in their money moves.