Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insurance...

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UPDATED: Sep 3, 2021

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Here's what you need to know...

  • If you’re buying standard personal car insurance policy, you’ll need to have an insurable interest in a private passenger car
  • In addition to owning the vehicle you’re insuring, most companies will require you to possess a valid driver license before you can secure coverage
  • If you don’t have a licensed issued in the United States, many companies will accept a foreign license of International Driving Permit that’s translated to English
  • If you don’t own your own vehicle but often drive other vehicles, you may be eligible for a nonowners car insurance policy
  • For applicants who don’t have a license but who need coverage to get their driving privilege back, it might be possible to secure specialty SR-22 insurance

Anyone who drives an automobile on a regular basis has a need for auto insurance. This is true for people who either own their own car and borrow cars from others. It takes only one single trip behind the wheel to change your entire financial future. One accident without the protection that’s afforded by auto insurance could lead to a loss of assets and even a loss of your future wages. Compare car insurance rates now by using our FREE tool above!

It’s not worth the risk of losing everything you’ve worked hard for in your life to drive uninsured. This is why you’ll need to review the underwriting requirements for standard auto insurance and the high-risk alternatives that you can lean on if you don’t qualify for a standard policy. Read this guide, and find out what you’ll need to get a quote and how you can determine if you’re eligible for a Personal Auto Policy (PAP) of your own.

Can you insure just any vehicle?

In order to insure a car in your name, you’ll need to have an insurable interest in that car. An insurable interest means that you would suffer a direct and measurable financial loss if something were to happen in or to the car.

If you’re in the market for standard insurance, one of the biggest requirements is that you must have a car to insure.

While you might not hold the title of the vehicle you’re insuring, you will need to be the registered owner. This means that you can insure cars you own outright, cars you’re financing and cars you’re leasing.

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Do you need to own a car to purchase auto insurance?

It might seem silly to imagine that you could buy auto insurance without ever buying a car, but in some events it’s possible. You can’t actually buy a standard auto insurance policy without having an insurable interest in a car, but you can buy another type of specialty plan that’s referred to as non-owners insurance.

What is nonowner’s insurance and who’s it for?

A non-owner policy is a special type of auto insurance contract that provides a single driver with liability coverage when they’re operating a vehicle that they are borrowing or renting. One of the major stipulations of a nonowner’s policy is that the vehicle that’s being operated can’t be one owned by anyone in the household or one that the policyholder has regular access to. Here are some scenarios where someone might need a non-owners policy:

  • They frequently borrow the cars of their friends and family members who don’t live in their home
  • They often rent vehicles to go on trips and don’t want to pay the high cost of rental liability insurance
  • They want to keep their prior insurance discount to keep future rates low
  • They want to keep their preferred rating when they buy a car in the future

Do you have to have an active driver license for a PAP?

Now that you understand the requirements behind vehicle ownership, the next step is learning about the requirements behind driver licensing. In most events, you’ll need to possess an active license before you will be approved for coverage with a standard insurer. In fact, many companies have the right to cancel coverage mid-term if a client’s license is suspended or revoked. There are, however, some scenarios where you can get car insurance coverage when you don’t have a license of your own.

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Scenarios Where You Can Get Insurance Without a Driver License

There’s a possibility that you can get insurance without a license if you’ve surrendered your license voluntarily. Some individuals choose to give up their license because they have suffered a disability or because they don’t feel comfortable driving.

Just because you’ve surrendered a license doesn’t mean you can’t own a car.

To insure your car, you can tell the insurer you don’t have a license but that you have a primary licensed driver to list on the policy. You’ll need to provide their name, date of birth, license number and their relation to you. As long as their driving record is satisfactory, your policy will be issued with rates that are dictated by the rating factors of the primary driver and not by you.

Can you get auto insurance if you have a license from another country?

Every car insurance company has their own rules about whether or not they’ll sell auto insurance to a non-US citizen who doesn’t have a U.S. license. In most states, people who have a foreign driver license are allowed to buy a car and register the car in their name under their foreign license. They can drive on this license until they become a citizen. Since they’re free to register a car, most companies are willing to extend coverage by accepting the foreign license. There may, however, be some drawbacks to buying insurance with a foreign license.

Drawbacks of Using a Foreign License for Insurance

One of the major drawbacks of qualifying for insurance with a foreign license is the fact that you may be viewed as an inexperienced operator no matter how long you’ve been licensed.

An inexperienced operator is a term that’s often used to describe newly licensed teens who don’t have any experience credits and who pay surcharged rates because of it.

If you’ve been licensed for a decade or more in your home country, it can be a bit insulting to find out that you’re paying the rates a first-time driver would pay. Fortunately, some companies are willing to give their policyholders experience credits for their prior driving experience if the client can get a driver abstract that shows their licensing date and their driving record.

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What if your license is currently suspended or revoked?

Not having a license is a bit different than having a license that’s been suspended or revoked. If you’ve been convicted of violations like driving without insurance, driving without a license, or driving under the influence, many states with SR-22 insurance programs will require you to file a proof of financial responsibility before your license is reinstated.

Getting your license reinstated can be very difficult when companies require that you have an active license to issue you coverage. Fortunately, you may be able to get coverage to satisfy these legal requirements by applying for SR-22 insurance through a high-risk insurance company. Not all companies offer this type of coverage, but there are options on the market.

What do you need to get a quote?

Now that you know the basic underwriting requirements for getting insurance, it’s time to gather everything that you’ll need to price coverage. Here’s a basic list of the information you’re asked for:

  • Name, date of birth, driver license number
  • Age or date licensed
  • Dates of moving violations or at-fault accidents
  • Vehicle year, make, model and VIN
  • Odometer reading of vehicle and average annual mileage
  • Primary driver and vehicle usage
  • Occupation and professional affiliations
  • Prior insurance and how long you were with prior insurer

If you have decided which type of policy is appropriate for you, it’s time to price policies. You can compare the rates instantly through multiple carriers by using a rate comparison tool and by entering your information. After filling the quote form out, press the submit button and in seconds you’ll see what you can expect to pay for insurance. Compare car insurance rates now by entering your zip code in our FREE tool below!