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

UPDATED: Jul 14, 2021

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In a nutshell...

  • If you are planning to buy or lease a car, you should already be lining up your options for car insurance because you will eventually be required to have it
  • If you do not have car insurance at the point of taking a car for a test drive, you may be covered by the car insurance policy of the car dealership
  • The situation is more complicated if you are buying a car from a private individual because you will need to make sure that his or her insurance covers permissive use of the vehicle by other drivers
  • Before you are able to actually purchase, finance or lease a car, the car dealership will make sure that you are covered by a car insurance policy
  • The dealership may ask to see your driver’s license before you are able to even test drive a car

If you go to test drive a car, the process will depend on whether you go to a standard car dealership or a private seller.

Things will probably be more formal at a car dealership, but you will not necessarily be required to show proof of current car insurance at the test drive stage.

If you buy a car from a traditional car dealership, they will typically require that you have some proof of insurance before you take the vehicle off of the lot.

For the test drive itself, the car dealership will have an auto insurance policy that covers drivers like you for this very purpose.

Enter your zip code above to find car insurance coverage to drive your car right off the lot!

Test Driving a Car at a Car Dealership

If you are shopping for a new car, this is a great time to start thinking about the other mandatory expenses that come with owning a car, such as auto insurance.

Even though you will not be required to show proof of valid auto insurance right away to test drive a car, it will definitely be a requirement for you to drive off with your new car. The same is true if you decide to lease or finance a car.

One of the major reasons that you should be looking into different car insurance quotes is that the type of car that you buy could affect what you pay for car insurance.

It is important to know what the total monthly cost of owning your car will be.

If you give your auto insurance agent an idea of the make, model, and year of the car or truck that you are considering for purchase, you will be able to get a specific quote for that vehicle.

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Car Insurance Requirements from the Car Dealership or Lender

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Keep in mind that if you do not purchase the car outright, the dealership may impose additional restrictions on you in terms of auto insurance coverage during the term of the loan or the lease of your car.

The rationale for this is that you do not really own the car outright until you have paid off your car loan.

In addition, if you lease the car, then it really is the property of the car dealership until you make the ultimate decision to purchase the car at the end of the lease, assuming that is an option.

You will need to read the terms of the finance agreement or lease very carefully because it will spell out the requirements you must abide by with respect to your car insurance coverage.

For example, most lease agreements or finance contracts require that you have some level of collision or comprehensive coverage. If you do not currently have insurance, you should inform the car insurance agent that you speak with about the additional requirements of the dealership.

The general rule of thumb in car shopping situations is that the sooner you line up your car insurance options, the better. You do not want to find yourself in the situation of having to rely on any connections that the dealership has for your required car insurance.

This is because you will not really have shopped around to ensure that you are getting the best rate that you can without sacrificing the coverage amounts and types that you either have to have or want to have.

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Test Driving a Car Being Sold by a Private Individual

Your auto insurance considerations are a bit different if you are looking into buying a car from a private individual.

While an individual may not even inquire about your auto insurance status at any point during the transaction, it is important that the car is covered.

When you go to test drive a car that is being sold by a private person, you need to make sure that the seller is insured before you take the car for a test drive on your own.

The reason for this is that the insurance coverage will extend to people who have permissible use of the vehicle.

This would include a test drive by a prospective buyer. If you the private seller is not insured, then you would not be covered at all without a separate auto insurance policy of your own.

One of the most logical reasons that a private seller would not have current auto insurance on a vehicle that is being sold is that they no longer plan to drive the vehicle and did not want to pay insurance for it.

If you are ever in a situation where you cancel your current auto insurance, then your coverage stops, which means that there is no protection if you are in an accident.

This is why it is never a good idea to cancel coverage before you are absolutely sure that you no longer need it for any reason or have an alternate policy lined up.

Test Driving a Car Without a Car Insurance Policy

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There is no reason to worry if you do not have car insurance at the point that you are test driving a car. This is because it is not necessarily a requirement from a car dealership right away.

You will be covered under the car dealer’s insurance policy for the car that you are driving.

If you ultimately end up purchasing a car, you will need to have at least the required amount of car insurance in your state.

You may be required to prove to the car dealership that you have secured this car insurance coverage before you are able to sign for your new car and drive it away.

You should line up the required insurance as quickly as possible. Enter your zip code below to compare car insurance rates from top companies in your area!