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How do you get car insurance without a license?

Here's what you need to know...

  • Most standard auto insurance companies require a policyholder to possess an active license to qualify for coverage
  • Young drivers who only have their provisional license don’t need to be added to their parent’s policy until they’re licensed
  • If you don’t currently have your U.S. license but your do have an International Driving Permit, you may qualify for coverage
  • If your driver license is suspended or revoked, you may need to apply for a high-risk or short-term policy so that you can get it reinstated
  • You’ll need to let the insurer know to file an SR-22 electronically to get your driving privilege back and to eventually qualify for standard insurance

If you can’t drive a car without a license, it’s reasonable to wonder why someone who doesn’t have their license would want to buy auto insurance. While you do need an active driving privilege, or at least, a provisional permit, to operate a motor vehicle, you don’t need either of these to be the registered owner of a vehicle. Anyone over the age of 18 can legally own a car even if they don’t drive it.

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Since it’s the owner’s responsibility to carry the state required auto insurance, it would seem as if all companies should be willing to insurance all vehicle owners regardless of their licensing status. Being unlicensed isn’t an excuse to be uninsured. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Every company has their own underwriting guidelines and some guidelines are far more strict than others. If you don’t have a license and you’re looking for insurance, here are some valuable tips so that you’re able to find coverage.

Why do some insurance companies require a driver license?

A driver license is a document that’s issued by a state department of transportation to show that someone has passed a licensing test, a driving test and has met all of the requirements to operate a motor vehicle.

Since auto insurance covers a specific vehicle that’s being operated by a specific driver, companies may require that the primary person on the policy has a license.

This requirement makes it easier for companies to rate drivers and to look into driving records and driving habits to see if there’s a great deal of risk in extending coverage. The driving record is also a rating factor that’s used to determine how much to charge a policyholder. While it’s not always a requirement, it’s most definitely common with some of the larger companies to have stricter underwriting guidelines.

How do companies view a Foreign Driver License?

If you don’t have a domestic license but you do have a foreign driving privilege, it can be shocking to learn that you could be treated the same as an unlicensed driver by some companies. How your license is viewed depends on the carrier and where your license was issued.

Many carriers extend coverage but will treat you as an inexperienced operator for as long as you have a foreign license. There could be special exceptions to this surcharge if you get a driving abstract in English that shows your record and how long you’ve been licensed. You should check with your agent to see if these experience credits will be available to keep your rates low.

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How’s an International Driving Permit viewed?

In many states, if your licensing documents can be translated, you can obtain insurance through a standard insurer without a U.S. license. If the department can’t read the language used on your license from the issuing country, you’ll need an International Driving Permit. The IDP will also be accepted by domestic insurers but the same consequences apply. You’ll need to have a license by the time that you become a resident in the state.

Can you get insurance coverage if you’re unlicensed but hold a provisional license?

If you have a provisional license, it means that you’ve been given permission to operate a motor vehicle to get experience under the supervision of an adult who is already licensed. Since you can legally drive, you’ll need to be sure you have insurance coverage. Unfortunately, you can’t typically buy auto insurance in your name if you have a permit.

You will need to get your coverage through your parents or even your spouse as long as you live in the same home.

What many people don’t know is that they are automatically covered under their parent’s policy if they are youthful operators who only possess a permit. They aren’t rated on the policy, but since the driver must be supervised, they are covered if anything happens. This can save you a pretty penny, but be sure to get added to a policy when you’re licensed.

What happens if your driver license is suspended or revoked?

If you’ve had a license but you no longer have an active privilege, it can create different issues for getting insurance. Insurance companies really frown upon the loss of a driving privilege because it shows that you’ve failed to act responsibly behind the wheel or comply with your responsibilities as a licensee.

Some companies will deny your application and others will approve it if you can get your license in a short time frame. There’s a long list of reasons why a person’s driver license can be suspended or revoked. Here’s some of the most common ones:

  • Point accumulation for minor moving violations
  • Habitual offenses during a short period of time
  • Driving without insurance convictions
  • Failure to pay a traffic fine
  • Serious infractions for DUI, manslaughter or reckless driving

What is a SR-22 and when do you need it?

If you have a suspended driver license, you’ll need to file an SR-22 to prove financial responsibility. Not all companies offer this SR-22 filing, but typically the ones that do will accept you as a risk if you’re in the process of getting your license reinstated. You’ll need to check with insurers to see if it’s a possibility to buy SR-22 insurance to satisfy the requirements to get your license back.

Some Options for Getting Insurance Without a License

  • If you have regular access to a vehicle in your home, get added to the policy and request an SR-22
  • Apply for insurance through a sub-standard provider
  • Apply for a short-term policy and then apply for a standard policy one you’re licensed
  • Buy a policy with yourself as a named insured and with another licensed driver as the rated operator
  • If you don’t own a vehicle, look into buying a non-owners policy temporarily

It’s possible to get without a license, but you’ll need to do more research than the average consumer to find the right policy. To find companies that will insure you with a foreign license or a suspended license, use an online comparison shopping tool. Enter your information, select coverage options, and you’ll be directed to quotes of the plans you’re eligible for. Enter your zip code in our FREE tool below and start comparing car insurance rates now!

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