Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health in...

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Reviewed by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: May 6, 2022

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In a nutshell

  • In almost every case, you actually must get auto insurance before obtaining car registration
  • There are some situations in which registering before insuring is possible
  • Allowing your car insurance to lapse or failure to obtain car insurance within a specified period may get your registration revoked
  • You can get insured to drive a car that is not registered to you

Can you get car insurance without registration?

Yes, car insurance is a prerequisite to getting a vehicle registration. Generally speaking, most states have car insurance requirements that have to be met. You can and must have some type of car insurance before registering your vehicle. The two are a package deal, and you normally can’t register a car without insurance.

Can I get my registration without insurance? No. You need car insurance to drive legally in most states.

Whether or not you can get car insurance without registration depends on the particular laws of your state and the policies of your insurance company.

Compare car insurance companies to get the best coverage at the best price.  You can get car insurance quotes without registration here. Enter your ZIP now to get your car insurance in place before you register your car.

Getting Car Insurance Without Registration

Will insurance cover an unregistered car? Yes, you can insure a vehicle without registration. You can buy unregistered vehicle insurance without a registration number or any other proof.

Can you register a car without insurance? No, in most states, you need insurance to register a car.

Can I get a car insurance quote without a registration number? Yes. Simply present your car insurance company with the make, model, year, and VIN of the car you’ve bought or intend to buy, and they will normally issue you a policy.

You can also get a car insurance quote from most insurance companies without a registration number as long as you have the other information on the car.

The type of policy you choose is up to you, so long as it meets the minimum coverage required by law. Having a policy with more coverage will help you repair or replace your vehicle if you are in an accident.

Let’s compare the average annual rates based on how much coverage you choose, just to give you an idea of what your rates may look like.

Average Annual Car Insurance Rates Based on Coverage Type
CompaniesAverage Annual Rates for Low CoverageAverage Annual Rates for Medium CoverageAverage Annual Rates for High Coverage
State Farm$3,055.40$3,269.80$3,454.80
American Family$3,368.49$3,544.37$3,416.40
Avg Price$3,754.18$3,961.99$4,143.29
Liberty Mutual$5,805.75$6,058.57$6,356.04
Monthly Avg$312.85$330.17$345.27
Get Your Rates Quote Now

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The difference between high and low coverage is only about $30 a month. That’s not bad when you consider everything you will be covered for with the higher coverage.

Do you have to show proof of insurance to register a vehicle?

Can you drive a car with insurance but no registration? No, this is also against the law. Also, you can’t get your car registered without insurance, but you can get unregistered vehicle insurance. It’s not a two-way street.

Ideally, you should be prepared to show proof of insurance when you go to register your car at the DMV. Bring your ID and insurance card. You can easily get new car insurance without a registration number online or over the phone if you don’t have it already.

Can I register a car without an insurance card? If you’ve just recently gotten insurance and don’t yet have a card, you can call your insurer and have them fax your papers right over to the DMV as proof.

Once they obtain your insurance card or fax printout, DMV personnel check for specific criteria. They want to see the following:

  • Your insurance is valid
  • Your insurance is current
  • There is an adequate amount of coverage

If your DMV uses an electronic database, you don’t need to bring or fax anything. All you have to do is tell them your insurer’s name. When it comes time for renewal, electronic databases have the added convenience of enabling you to renew your registration online.

This option can be helpful provided your insurer submits information via the state’s insurance database. If you do belong to such an insurance company, be advised that they use this same system if your insurance ever lapses or is canceled.

How do you get car insurance without registration for a recently purchased car?

Can you register a car without insurance if you just bought it? Before you buy a car from a dealer or individual seller, they hold the title and registration for the car.

These documents transfer to you when the car is paid for in full. If you buy the car outright, the title transfers to you immediately.

If you’re getting a loan, the title will transfer once the total cost of the loan is paid.

So, while title transfer can take awhile, you are allowed to register the car as your own as soon as payment or a payment agreement has been rendered.

Do you have to get car insurance before registration is complete? In order to proceed with the registration, you will need to gather the appropriate paperwork, including proof of insurance.

Once you have paid the taxes and registration fees on your new car, you will receive a license plate, verification sticker, and a certificate of registration.

Can you insure a car that’s registered to someone else?

It’s a common practice to get someone else’s car added to your own policy. People typically do this for their children, spouses, or significant others. If you want to be able to drive someone else’s car, it can be as simple as having a conversation with your insurance agent.

If your agent agrees, then they will require proof that you have access to the vehicle or know the person who owns it. A VIN (vehicle identification number) typically satisfies this requirement.

When you add someone else’s car to your insurance policy, you are only insuring yourself. The car add-on does not cover the other person when they drive the car, only you when you drive it.

You can, however, opt to add another person to the policy and not just their car. This addition can affect your rates depending on the other person’s age, experience, and driving record.

Can you get insurance without a car? Can you get insurance without registration in your name?

If you want to occasionally drive another person’s car but are not on their policy, a non-owners auto insurance policy can help. This specialized policy protects you from accident liability when you occasionally get behind the wheel of another person’s car.

It is only effective in the event of an auto collision. Because it is not comprehensive, it does not cover theft, acts of God, or collisions with flagpoles and trees. It is also unsuitable for a car you drive every day.

If for some reason the car’s owner cannot get a non-owners policy for you, you can always get a regular, entirely separate policy that will enable you to drive their car. As with any other normal policy, you can tailor it to your specific needs.

This ability to tailor means you can enjoy comprehensive coverage if desired, and you can insure a car that you drive or intend to drive every day.

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What Happens to your Registration when your Car Insurance Lapses

Can you register a car without insurance if your car insurance has lapsed?

If your insurance lapses, most states will suspend your registration. The same will happen if you are allowed to register a car without proof of insurance but fail to provide that proof within the allotted window of time.

Most states require some sort of minimum car insurance, and driving without insurance is illegal. Penalties vary by state, but, generally speaking, you can expect the following punishments:

  • Pay around $500 for the first offense
  • Pay $1,000 for the second offense
  • Have your car’s registration revoked for the third offense

In fact, the Insurance Information Institute cites a 2015 study conducted by the Insurance Research Council (IRC) that found nearly 13 percent of all drivers are uninsured. Most states require people to get their car insured before driving in hopes of reducing this percentage.

As registration implies intent to drive, most states aren’t willing to take the risk that you’ll take your newly registered ride on the road uninsured.

In fact, if you allow a lapse in car insurance, most states will immediately suspend your registration after a specified period.

For example, in New York, you have 90 days after an insurance lapse to pay a penalty and have your registration restored. If the lapse is 91 days or over, registration for that vehicle may never be restored, even if you pay the penalty.

Registering your car is not that difficult provided you have the necessary paperwork.

There are some notable exceptions to insuring a car before registering it. New Hampshire doesn’t require drivers to carry car insurance so there is not a mandate to having insurance before registering a car.

You can also lose your registration if you have filed for car insurance using fraudulent or erroneous information.

If your insurer uses the state’s electronic insurance database, they will upload documents detailing a coverage lapse or cancellation to the system and can be accessed by the DMV as well as law enforcement.

This available information puts you at immediate risk of having your registration revoked and/or being pulled over if you attempt to drive.

After the lapse or cancellation, an amount of time is given to surrender your license plate. If you don’t do so, your license will be suspended.

Can you get car insurance with an expired registration?

Every state requires you to have your vehicle registered in order to drive it. If you allow your registration to expire, you will face penalties and fees.

Although you can’t get car insurance with an expired registration, you can get car insurance once you reinstate your registration. Generally, you will pay higher rates since a ticket for no registration will show on your driving record.

Car Insurance Without Registration: The Bottom Line

In most cases, getting insurance is the logical next step after buying or committing to buy a specific car. It’s a good idea to have your insurance in place before going to get the car registered.

Shop online right here to get affordable car insurance without registration so you won’t run into trouble at the DMV. Enter your ZIP to compare quotes, and get the best deals on unregistered vehicle insurance before you register your car.