Can I insure a vehicle registered to someone else? In some instances, yes, you can insure a car that is not yours. If you borrow someone’s car, rent a car or use a work vehicle, you may be able to get insurance coverage through non-owner insurance — however, keep in mind that this is liability-only coverage that won't cover the damages to the car you're driving. If you want full coverage for a car you drive regularly, you'll have to prove insurable interest by being added to the car's title or registration or the owner's existing insurance policy.
Typically, you can't purchase anything beyond liability-only non-owner insurance coverage for a vehicle you don't own or have an insurable interest in.
Not all states allow insurance for non-owned vehicles because it’s hard to prove insurable interest and can complicate the claims process.
Getting added as a vehicle owner, added to the owner’s insurance policy as a driver, or having the title transferred to your name are all ways you can get insurance coverage.
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Why Is It Difficult to Insure a Vehicle You Don’t Own?
Because it’s hard to prove insurable interest, it can be challenging to insure a vehicle registered to someone else. Some states don’t allow non-owner insurance because the name on the insurance policy and vehicle registration need to match. That said, the claims process could also be complicated.
In insurance, insurable interest means that you can suffer economic loss in the event your car is damaged or totaled. To be insured, you need to have an insurable interest in the insured vehicle.
It’s Hard to Prove Insurable Interest
To have an insurable interest in a car means you will suffer financial loss if the vehicle is damaged or totaled. Having ownership of the car — whether you’re the sole owner or co-owner — is a way to show you have an insurable interest. If you can’t prove why you’re insuring a car that’s not in your name, insurance companies will be hesitant to insure you because of the risk of fraud and the questionable legality of approving filed claims.
Some insurers offer non-owner car insurance for those who can provide proof of insurable interest, even if they don’t own the car they want to register. Progressive and Travelers are two companies who offer insurance for non-owned vehicles.
State Law May Prevent It
In some states, you can’t insure a car that’s not in your name. The name on the vehicle registration and insurance policy must match in most states for an insurer to open a policy — this serves as proof of insurable interest in the vehicle and minimizes the company’s risk of insuring you. Keep in mind that you could be charged with fraud, have a claim denied and risk your future insurability if you lie during this process.
The Claims Process Would Be Tricky
If you could file a claim for damages on a vehicle registered to someone else, the claims process would get messy. In this case, you could receive a payout for damage to a car you don’t have any financial stake in.
For example, let’s say Sally totaled Ted’s car and she filed a claim under her insurance policy. The check would be made out to Sally, and Ted — the actual vehicle owner — would be at a loss unless Sally signed the check over to him.
Alternatives to Insuring a Car That’s Not in Your Name
If you can’t or don’t want to get a non-owner insurance policy, there are alternative options for coverage. Here are some of the other ways you can insure a car that’s not in your name:
Be added as a driver to the existing car insurance policy.
If the owner adds you as a driver on their policy, you should be covered if you get into an accident.
Add the vehicle owner to your insurance policy.
If you have an insurance policy, adding the owner and the car to your policy provides coverage for both of you.
Opt for car rental insurance coverage.
When renting a car, elect the collision damage waiver coverage offered by the rental company for coverage if you get into an accident.
Ask to be added to the vehicle registration.
If you’re listed as a registered owner, you have an insurable interest to insure the car.
Ask to be added to the car title.
Adding your name to the car title gives you an insurable interest in the vehicle, which means you can insure it.
Have the car registration transferred to your name.
If the owner no longer wants or needs the car, they can transfer the registration to you so you can open an insurance policy.
When Non-Owner Car Insurance Makes Sense
For drivers who don’t own a car but regularly borrow, rent or have a violation history, non-owner car insurance may make sense. However, even if you qualify for non-owned vehicle insurance, keep in mind that you’ll be limited to liability-only coverage, which only offers financial protection to the other driver if you cause an accident.
Scenarios Where Having Non-Owner Car Insurance Makes Sense
- ScenarioWhy It Makes Sense
- You need SR-22 or FR-44 forms.To reinstate driving privileges for people with a bad driving history and no car in states that require an SR-22 or FR-44.
- You live in a state that requires it after license suspension.If you don’t own a car but are required to get insurance coverage to remove a license suspension.
- You use car-sharing services regularly.It provides liability coverage and additional financial protection above what the company offers.
- You want continuous coverage.It fills in the gaps if you sell or total a car and don’t buy a new one right away.
- You rent cars often.Provides liability coverage that your rental car company may not offer.
- You frequently borrow cars.Provides liability coverage you may not have under the owner’s car insurance policy.
Frequently Asked Questions About Non-Owner Car Insurance
About Mandy Sleight, Licensed Insurance Agent