Shuman Roy is an entrepreneur, business owner, and musician. He started RoysNoys, LLC in 2013 as a music production and education service company. He also offers small business consulting and advisory services to help businesses get from start-up mode to turn-key operations. Shuman earned his M.B.A from the Stern School of Business in 2001 and has an undergraduate degree from Manhattan College in ...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity-backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Joel...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: Sep 14, 2021

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Insurance Q&A: “Can I get car insurance without a license?”

The answer to this question depends on the circumstances surrounding why you don’t currently have a license.

If you have a suspended or revoked driver’s license, you might be out of luck entirely. There are very few, if any auto insurance companies, that will insure high-risk drivers.

Odds are your license was suspended for a serious driving offense, or several minor offenses. Either way, insurers are not in the business of taking on a driver that poses an obvious threat for insurance claims.

On the other hand, if you’re in the process of obtaining a driver’s license for the first time, there are some insurance companies that will present you with options (even if you drive a purple Gremlin). You may be required to show a provisional license.

Typically, insurance carriers will issue an auto insurance policy for someone in this position…with a catch.

What’s the catch?

You will need to prove, usually within 30 to 45 days, that you actually obtained the driver’s license.

If the 30-45 days passes and you are still not a licensed driver, the insurance policy would be cancelled and you would be uninsured again.

As a result, you wouldn’t legally be able to drive in most states, as there are mandatory minimum liability limits necessary to operate a motor vehicle. In most states, this consists of a minimum liability coverage requirement featuring bodily injury liability coverage and property damage liability coverage.

If you get pulled over and can’t show proof of insurance, you’ll be looking at fines, license and vehicle registration suspension, and possible jail time.

If you do not own a car, but drive others’ cars regularly, it is recommended that you obtain a non-owners auto insurance policy. This policy will provide secondary liability coverage behind the primary policy on the vehicle.

If you carry a Foreign, International, or Matricula license, there are many companies that will insure you. Typically, these companies are referred to as non-standard carriers.

Keep in mind that the majority of car insurance companies out there require a review of your motor vehicle driving record, or MVR, in order to accurately calculate your insurance premium and issue an insurance policy.

If you do not provide a valid license when shopping for insurance, you will typically be charged a higher rate or denied coverage.

Physical Damage Coverage

Some auto insurers will allow you to purchase a physical damage auto insurance coverage while you are unlicensed to protect a vehicle you may own. It doesn’t matter whether you have a license or not…your car can still be damaged.

Suppose you have an outstanding loan on a vehicle. Your lender, or loss payee, will require the vehicle be covered for physical damage to protect their financial interest in the car.

Physical damage consists of collision coverage and comprehensive coverage. As the name suggests, the former pays for collision damage.

Comprehensive insurance is a little different, as it covers just about everything that is not a collision. If a tree limb falls on your car, if it’s damaged in a natural disaster, if it’s stolen, you will be covered by comprehensive insurance.

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What’s the best option for younger unlicensed drivers?

The best option for newly licensed teen drivers is to be added to their parents’ auto insurance policy. This will raise their insurance rate, but it is much cheaper than buying a separate auto policy.

Teenagers are young and lack driving experience, so auto insurance companies assume they are more likely to file a claim. The higher auto insurance premium is meant to offset the money they will pay in  claims.

Insurance companies look at factors like age, gender, marital status, location, driving history, and credit score when setting an insurance premium. If the primary driver on the policy has good credit and a clean driving history, the policy rate should remain affordable.

Look into possible insurance discounts, like the safe driver discount, multi-policy discount, or defensive driving course discount.

What’s the bottom line?

Unlicensed drivers planning to get a license within the time frame referenced above should shop online for auto insurance quotes and/or contact an independent agent to help you find affordable insurance rates on the coverage you need.

Remember, if someone has access to regularly use your car, you need to have them listed on your policy covering the vehicle, even if you’re not licensed.

Learn more about who is covered and when you are not covered when it comes to car insurance.