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Does my car need to be registered to get insurance?

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Things to remember...

  • When you go to buy a car, you may have to show the dealer that you have proof of insurance before you get to take it away
  • The vehicle will not yet be officially registered when you purchase it from the dealer because you have to file various forms with the state in order to show that you are the new owner of the car
  • When you buy a car from the dealer, the dealer will assist you with the required paperwork to get your car registered with the DMV of your state
  • Almost every state department of motor vehicles (DMV) in the U.S. requires vehicle owners to show that they have valid insurance lined up before they are even allowed to officially register the car
  • If you drive an unregistered car and are pulled over, you may face penalties under state law, but having coverage from your insurance company is a separate matter

The typical process of getting a new vehicle involves picking it out from a dealership, signing for it, showing proof of insurance for the car, and then taking it to get registered at your state DMV.

When you first buy a car, it will not yet be registered under your name, but you will list the car on your insurance policy in order to get coverage.

Once you have insurance coverage for the car, you can take care of the registration of your vehicle with the state DMV, which will require proof of adequate car insurance in advance.

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Adding Another Vehicle to Your Car Insurance Policy


You can add another vehicle to your current car insurance policy without a hassle by letting your insurance agent know that you are planning on buying a car. You can even call your agent while you are at the dealership to get everything you need to be lined up for proof of insurance for the new car.

It is always better to involve your agent sooner rather than later in a new car purchase so that there is no unexpected lapse in your car insurance coverage.

If the car you are seeking to add to your current car insurance policy is very exotic or is a modified car, then you may be looking at paying significantly higher rates for your auto insurance premium.

These types of cars present more of a risk for the insurance company in the event that you have to file a claim, so you end up absorbing some of this risk for the insurance company by paying a markedly higher premium for car insurance coverage.

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Buying a Car Without Current Insurance

If you are buying a car and do not have current auto insurance, then you will need to make arrangements to get it before you are able to take your new car away from the dealer’s lot.

Paying your car insurance premium is a cost associated with purchasing a car, so if you can get information on policy options in advance of making your purchase, it will make it even easier for you to budget your monthly car payments.

Because car insurance is a legal requirement, most dealers will not finalize the sale of the car until you can show some form of valid proof of car insurance.

Do not make the mistake of thinking that just because you got the lowest quote possible on car insurance that you are getting the best option for you. There are many other things to think about in addition to cost when choosing a policy.

For example, you need to make sure that the insurance company has a reputation for being a solid company and is financially stable enough for you to depend on.

You do not want to find yourself in a situation down the line where you have made all the required premium payments and are left without coverage for an accident or claim.

Car Insurance for an Unregistered Car

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If you have been driving a car that is not registered with your state DMV, you may face some trouble with state penalties. States require that cars to be driven on public roads are registered with the state DMV and insured.

You are also required to maintain current registration under you state law and have all of the proper tags on your vehicle at all times that it is driven on public roads.

Failure to comply with these laws could result in your driver’s license being suspended or revoked along with some hefty fines.

Even though this is a requirement of the state, it is not enforced by your car insurance company.

That is to say, the car insurance company will insure a car as long as you are the owner of it and will provide coverage for any claims involving that car pursuant to the terms of your car insurance policy agreement.

One thing to keep in mind is that if you are pulled over and cited for not having the required vehicle registration, this could end up with you paying more for your car insurance in the future.

This is because the offense would end up on your driving record, which is something that all car insurance companies consider when deciding how much to charge you for your car insurance coverage.

For that reason alone, complying with all state laws in regards to registering your vehicle is highly recommended.

When you buy your car from an established dealer, they are able to help you out with this process most times. Make sure that you keep a copy of your current vehicle registration in the car at all times when you are driving.

The Last Word on Car Registration and Getting Car Insurance


When you go to buy a car, you will not have it registered until the necessary paperwork is filed with your state DMV.

However, you will be required by the dealer to show some proof of auto insurance before you drive it off the lot.

Therefore, you are able to get car insurance on a car that is not yet officially registered under your name at the state DMV.

You should act quickly to get your car registered with the state DMV so that you are in compliance with state laws and do not risk getting a fine if you are pulled over without having the proper tags and registration.

If you have offenses, such as driving without registering your vehicle, you could end up having higher rates for insurance in the future.

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