Can I Register My Vehicle Without Insurance?

Man giving girlfriend keys to car
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If you want to drive your vehicle on public roads, you have got to register the vehicle with your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). You might be wondering whether or not you can register a car at your state’s DMV without purchasing or planning to purchase car insurance. In short: no.

Even if you live in a state that doesn’t have minimum coverage requirements for drivers, you’ll still often need to provide some sort of proof of insurance or self-insurance, depending on the state.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to have purchased an insurance policy before the vehicle is registered. In states where insurance is not required, you’ll typically need to provide proof that you have a certain amount of money saved away to cover any damages you cause. Amounts vary state by state, so make sure to do your research based on where you live. 

In order to register your vehicle, you will typically need to bring the vehicle’s title, a bill of sale and proof of tax payment, your driver’s license, and either your insurance ID card or another form that provides proof of insurance. You will often also need to have a vehicle inspection (to make sure your vehicle meets certain emissions standards) and pay a fee before the DMV will give you your license plates. But in some cases, you can register your car first and then follow up with a document providing proof of insurance within a set period of time. For instance, in California, if you do not provide insurance information by the deadline, your registration will be suspended—and the penalties will be severe.

If your registration is suspended, you will not legally be allowed to drive the vehicle on any public roads until you have provided insurance information and have the suspension removed.

Can I Register My Vehicle If My Insurance Is From Another State?

If you are simply traveling from state-to-state, your auto insurance will cover you wherever you go. But if you move to a new state, you will need to register your vehicle within your new state—within a short period of time.

Before you can do so, you will need to provide proof of liability coverage from the state in which you now reside. Make sure you find out the requirements in the new state you are moving to.

What Happens If My Insurance Lapses After I Register My Vehicle?

If you think you can cancel your car insurance without the DMV noticing, think again. Not only do most states monitor your insurance coverage online, but insurance companies by law must let the DMV know when you stop having coverage through them. In most states, you will have a window of opportunity to buy new insurance coverage and submit proof of insurance before the DMV suspends your registration, but make sure you know the rules for your particular state.

Can I Register My Vehicle Without a Driver’s License?

Surprisingly, in most states, the answer is yes! But the process is complicated.

As we have already discussed, in order to register your vehicle, you need to show that you own the vehicle and that it is insured. You also need a form of ID for yourself, which for most people means a valid driver’s license.

But if you are not a licensed driver, it is still perfectly legal for you to purchase a vehicle. The tricky part, in terms of what is needed to register your vehicle, will be getting proof of insurance.

Most insurance companies use your driving record as the main way of determining how risky of a driver you are—and thus how much to charge you per month in premiums. If you have no driving history, it will be much more difficult for insurance companies to figure out how much to charge you, and if you do not have a valid license because yours is suspended or revoked, the chances of you securing car insurance coverage are slim to none.

Sometimes, if you do not have a driver’s license but want the insurance policy to be in your name regardless, you will be able to purchase an insurance policy on the vehicle and list yourself as an excluded driver. Of course, it might make more sense to have whoever is going to be driving the vehicle to take out an insurance policy and register the vehicle, in their own name. But for some individual cases, like an elderly or disabled person who owns a vehicle and employs someone else to drive them around in it, excluding oneself from the insurance policy makes the most sense.

It is a good idea to make sure to speak with an expert well before the deadline to register comes and you’re left without the proper documents. For most people, staying organized and doing a bit of research will be enough to keep you in the clear. 

Article Sources

  1. Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. "Insurance Requirements." Accessed Feb. 5, 2020.

  2. State of New Hampshire Insurance Department. "Your Guide to Understanding Auto Insurance in the Granite State," Page 1. Accessed Feb. 5, 2020.

  3. CARFAX. "What Do You Need to Register a Car?" Accessed Feb. 5, 2020.

  4. State of California Department of Motor Vehicles. "Vehicle Registration Suspensions." Accessed Feb. 5, 2020.

  5. FindLaw. "Driving Without Valid Vehicle Registration." Accessed Feb. 5, 2020.

  6. AAA Digest of Motor Laws. "Registration for Non-Residents." Accessed Feb. 5, 2020.

  7. Progressive. "What Happens if My Car Insurance Lapses?" Accessed Feb. 5, 2020.

  8. Carmel & Naccasha LLP, Attorneys at Law. "Do You Need a Driver's License to Buy or Lease a Vehicle in California?" Accessed Feb. 5, 2020.

  9. Insurance Information Institute. "What Determines the Price of an Auto Insurance Policy?" Accessed Feb. 5, 2020.

  10. Freeway Insurance. "What Is an Excluded Driver?" Accessed Feb. 5, 2020.