Here’s When You Need Car Insurance if You Don’t Have a License — and How You Can Get It

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If you don’t have a driver’s license, you don’t need car insurance. Makes sense, right?

Not always. 

Some people who can’t legally drive may still need car insurance, and in some cases that is even  necessary. Maybe you own a vehicle, but someone else in your household will drive it, or perhaps you currently have a learner’s permit. These are both reasons for people with no license to have to buy insurance.

Getting a car insurance policy without a license may be difficult, though. Most insurance carriers ask for your driver’s license information. If you don’t have one, or the one you have is not currently valid, you’ll need to do some work. 

Pro Tip

Call insurance companies individually to see who is willing to offer you a policy. If national companies are unwilling to help, local insurers may be able to work with you. 

Reasons to Buy Car Insurance Without a License

There are several reasons someone who doesn’t have a driver’s license may need to purchase car insurance. 

  • You own a vehicle that’s considered a collectible item: Vintage cars that sit idle still need insurance, especially if you want to cover any potential losses related to factors other than driving, such as theft or vandalism. Most insurers allow you to maintain comprehensive coverage if you intend to keep your car in storage for a minimum of 30 consecutive days. If you have a car that will be kept in storage for 30 days or more, you may be able to suspend your liability and collision coverages, and instead, maintain only comprehensive coverage.
  • You have a suspended license: You may have your license suspended for reasons ranging from a serious driving offense like a DUI to not paying state taxes. To get your license back, the state may require you to prove you have insurance coverage. 
  • You are (or have) a teen driver: Drivers who have a learner’s permit, although they’re not technically licensed, will still need car insurance. Teenagers typically drive their parent’s vehicle, which should be insured, and get added on to their policy.  
  • You need someone to drive you around: Maybe you’re unable to drive for health reasons, or you don’t want to drive at all. If you have a car in your name and someone chauffeurs you around in it, you’ll want insurance. “This might be more common with senior citizens who can’t drive anymore, but still need to get around,” says Adler. 

Can You Get Car Insurance Without a License?

Getting car insurance without a license depends first and foremost on your state.

“Double-check your state rules, but most, if not all, don’t require a license to purchase auto coverage,” says Brad Harrell, owner of TWFG Harrell Insurance in Fort Worth, Texas. However, you won’t have the same choice as a regularly licensed driver. “Your options may be limited to fewer insurance carriers,” Harrell says, “or your rate will be high.”  

In general, you don’t need to drive to be the holder of a car insurance policy — but the one who drives must be related to you, or live at the same address as you, says Harrell.  “The owner of the vehicle doesn’t have to be listed on the policy as the driver, just as the registered owner in case of a claim.” 

Lacking a license may mean that you don’t have a driving record. That might make your insurance more expensive. “Car insurance companies tend to look at a potential insurer’s driver’s license because it allows them to assess their driving record,” says David Adler, president of Adler Insurance Group in Denver. A driving record is one of the many pieces of information that insurance companies use to determine how much risk the driver poses and how much they should charge.   

How to Buy a Car without a Driver’s License

There is no law that requires an individual to have a valid driver’s license to buy a car, says Katie Sopko, an insurance broker at A Plus Insurance in Colorado Springs. 

“In most cases, a lender or car dealer will ask for it, but you can simply provide a piece of government identification or state ID card,” she says. 

But even if you can technically buy a car without a driver’s license, many car dealerships aren’t willing to go along, because of possible liability issues. For example, if you don’t have a license and want to go on a test drive, you’d be breaking the law — as you would when driving away with a newly purchased vehicle.  

That’s not to say dealerships won’t be willing to work with you. If you’re planning on getting a license soon, call a few dealerships to see who will be willing to work with you. Some might ask that you have someone with a driver’s license present when you look at the vehicle. 

You should also call your local Department of Motor Vehicles to see what documents you will need if you’re purchasing a vehicle without a driver’s license. 

Can You Buy Car Insurance With a Suspended License?

It is possible to buy car insurance if you have a suspended license, but it might cost you more. Some states may in fact require you to get insurance before they’re willing to reinstate your full driver’s license. 

In case of a suspended license, your state’s DMV may require you to obtain an SR-22 document, also known as a Certificate of Financial Responsibility. An SR-22 verifies the purchase of vehicle insurance coverage required by the state for the reinstatement of driving privileges.

An SR-22 isn’t an insurance policy in itself. “It’s a rider or endorsement of an existing policy or newly established car insurance policy,” Sopko says. “It’s a certificate that insurance companies attach to your policy to show that you’ve purchased insurance acknowledging your high-risk driving habits.”

Another option is to purchase a non-owners policy. This type of liability coverage follows the driver, not the vehicle, and usually meets the requirements for someone to keep their driver’s license. 

Drivers with suspended licenses can also designate someone else as the primary driver on their insurance policy. That way, your insurance rates may not go up, assuming the primary driver has a good track record.

If there’s someone else on the policy with you, another option is to list yourself as an excluded driver. What this means is that you request your insurer not to cover you, and you won’t drive the vehicle. Excluded drivers cannot legally operate the insured vehicle unless they obtain a separate policy, and if they are involved in an accident, they will not be covered for any damages. 

Which Companies Offer Car Insurance Without a License?

Many major insurance companies require you to have a driver’s license if you want to purchase a policy. Plus, you won’t be able to get quotes online without a driver’s license number. State Farm, GEICO, Allstate and Progressive all said they required a driver’s license, in response to a question from NextAdvisor.

A reputable independent broker can help you determine what options you have, including choosing smaller insurers that work with high-risk drivers. 

How Much Car Insurance Do I Need?

Most states have a minimum amount of coverage needed to legally drive — and even with that, one in eight drivers in the U.S. is not insured, according to the Insurance Information Institute.  

Many states require drivers to have property damage liability coverage and bodily injury liability coverage, while some may also require uninsured motorist coverage or personal injury protection. 

Uninsured motorist coverage means that you are covered in case someone without insurance hits your car; you may not be able to collect damages otherwise. If you have “uninsured / underinsured motorist” protection, you can make a claim for your injuries or damages through your own insurance company. 

Bottom Line

It’s not impossible to get car insurance with no license or a suspended one, but be prepared to pay higher premiums, or go with insurance options that cover you but not the vehicle.

Whatever type of coverage you need, make sure to tell the truth. It’s better to be upfront about your situation than to have the auto insurance carrier drop you.