Can I buy a car without auto insurance?

You can buy a car without auto insurance, but you can't drive it! No dealer will let you drive off the lot without insurance. Avoid buying auto insurance at the dealership. Buying auto insurance before you get a car is a safe way to get auto insurance on your car faster and find cheap auto insurance rates. Compare rates now to save!

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Mathew B. Sims is Editor-in-Chief and has authored, edited, and contributed to several books. He has been working in the insurance industry ensuring content is accurate for consumers who are searching for the best policies and rates...

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years (BBB A+). He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance...

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Reviewed byDaniel Walker
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UPDATED: Jul 4, 2020

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Things to remember...

  • Buying auto insurance is a critical part of the car-buying process
  • Technically, you can purchase a car without having car insurance, but you will not be allowed to drive it off the lot
  • To purchase without insurance, simply complete the purchase process, and leave the car at the dealership
  • You can always come back later with insurance. Getting auto insurance requires a few simple steps

You need to instantly buy auto insurance before buying a car. You may not able to buy a car without auto insurance. A dealership may prevent you from buying a car without auto insurance and won’t allow you to leave their lot with a purchased car without proof of an insurance policy.

You can usually get auto insurance at the dealership but shop around to get cheaper rates. Cars are one of the most important and expensive investments a person makes. Not only do they cost upfront, but owners can expect to regularly pay fees throughout the life of the car.

TIP: Do not buy car insurance at the dealership. Prepare ahead of time and compare rates from many companies to find cheap auto insurance. Don’t just buy auto insurance from the dealership’s preferred partners.

Auto insurance can sometimes be challenging to obtain and even more challenging to keep. This often tempts people into wondering if they can get by without it.

The answer to that question is, “It depends.” However, driving without insurance is a bad idea.

For those who recently bought a new car and have no insurance, enter your ZIP code in the free comparison tool above to compare auto insurance rates from top companies in your area!

Table of Contents

Can I buy a car without auto insurance?

You don’t need insurance to buy a car, only to drive it. Therefore, in order to buy a car without insurance, simply go through the car buying process as usual, and sign the papers.

But, because dealers in most states will not let you leave the lot without presenting proof of insurance, you must leave the car at the dealership until you can get some.

Even states that don’t require you to get insurance through an insurance company will want you to place a deposit with your local government to cover you in case you’re in an accident.

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Can I drive a car off the lot without insurance?

No dealer will let you drive off the lot without insurance. If you’re financing, you need to buy full coverage. The average cost of full coverage auto insurance is $79.58/month.

  • When you purchase a car from a dealer, you are liable for the vehicle as soon as you sign the bill of sale
  • You must have coverage for your car, as it is illegal to drive without insurance
  • The state can penalize you for not having insurance if you don’t get insurance before you drive off the lot
  • Since the dealer submits your application for tags for you, the dealer must see proof of insurance
  • When you buy a car outright, you’re only legally required to have liability insurance to drive away
  • When you finance a car, you have to have both liability insurance and full coverage to satisfy the state and lender

All you need to test drive a car is your driver’s license.

If you want to get behind the wheel of your dream car, you can walk onto any dealer lot, browse the inventory, speak with a car salesman, and hand over your license so that you can see how the car you like the most really handles on the road.

Do you need proof of insurance to buy a used car?

If you fall in love with the car that you test out and the salesman promises to get you a good deal, you could find yourself sitting in the finance office negotiating a deal.

After you get a great deal on an interest rate and you negotiate down the sales price of the car, you’re officially the owner of a brand new car.

Compare car insurance quotes side-by-side to get the best coverage at the best price.

Here’s what you need to know about insurance requirements before you drive off of the lot:

Find Out How Much Auto Insurance Is Required in Your State

When you sit down to take the driver’s licensing exam, the state will test you to see if you’re familiar with all of the laws that pertain to driving and owning a car.

One of the sections of the code that you need to brush up on once you own a car is the section that explains whether or not insurance is mandatory.

While there are always exceptions to the rule, insurance is mandatory in most states. The amount of coverage that you need to carry to drive a car that you own depends on where you’re living and where the car is going to be registered.

Typically, the following auto insurance coverage options are required at a minimum:

  • Bodily Injury Liability
  • Property Damage Liability
  • Personal Injury Protection (only required in no-fault states)

Is state minimum coverage enough?

State minimum coverage limits may be enough. If you pay for your vehicle outright without securing any type of financing, you don’t need anything more than the coverage options and limits that the state requires to legally drive off of the lot.

Just because the mandatory coverage limits will satisfy the state vehicle code doesn’t mean that you’re protected if you elect to buy a basic policy.

If you want to protect your assets and your future income, you still need to consider buying more than just the low third-party limits the state says that you need. Compare different limits and premiums so that you can decide what you need and what you can afford to buy.

Compare different limits and premiums so that you can decide what you need and what you can afford to buy.

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Will the dealer ask to see your coverage if you pay cash for the car?

Having third-party coverage and possibly no-fault coverage is required in the state, but you might assume that it’s the DMV’s responsibility to ask for proof and not the dealer’s. This is where your assumptions could lead to serious issues with the dealer and with the DMV.

In most states, the dealer will fill out the application to transfer ownership to the buyer. This means that the bill of sale will be submitted to the motor vehicle agency along with the application for tags in the buyer’s name.

One of the benefits of buying a car from a dealership is that they handle the DMV paperwork for you.

As an authorized party that is able to process DMV paperwork, the dealer is obligated to collect certain paperwork to complete the application. Most of the time, the motor vehicle agency wants to see that you have insurance before the tags will be issued.

When the proof needs to accompany the application, the  dealer must see the proof before they will give you their keys.

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What kind of coverage do you need when you’re financing the car?

If you’re financing the car instead of buying it outright, the requirements are even more strict. Auto loan lenders will let you borrow money to pay for a car as long as the car is well-maintained.

You are given the money in a lump sum in exchange for monthly payments that include principal and interest. The car will be security on your loan if you decide not to pay.

Since the vehicle is used as collateral on your car loan, the finance company will verify that you have the right insurance on your car.

You can’t just carry liability insurance and drive off without any issues. Instead, you need to have full coverage insurance that will pay for physical damage coverage that will help you pay to repair the car after a loss.

If you already have a loan in place, the dealer might not have to get the actual insurance documents from you. When you secure a loan in the finance office, there’s a good chance that you’ll be asked for the documented proof in the office.

No matter what’s required, you will have to sign a document saying that you have full coverage.

Can you choose any deductible when you’re financing your car?

If you’re building a policy right before you leave the dealer, choose the right coverage from the start. It’s only reasonable to try and keep premiums low by selecting a high deductible.

Unfortunately, if you do that, you might not be in compliance with the terms set by the lender for the auto loan.

Lenders want to know that you can afford to pay your car note, maintain the vehicle, have it serviced, and fix repairs when the car is damaged.

Having insurance helps you fix the serious repairs, but if your deductible is too high, you might not be able to file a claim. This is why most companies only accept physical damage deductibles of $500 or less.

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Will your existing auto insurance be enough to satisfy the dealer?

If you already own a car, you don’t have to worry about going out and shopping for a new policy right away. You will have some automatic coverage that will satisfy your lender’s requirements and your state’s requirements for a short period of time.

The extension won’t last forever, but it’s enough to give you time to shop around after you leave the lot.

In most cases, your automatic coverage will last for 14 to 30 days on the new car after the new car is purchased. This is if it’s an additional car rather than a replacement vehicle.

If it’s a replacement vehicle, the coverage extends to the rest of the insurance term. When you only have liability, you will have full coverage for only four days. You will have deductibles of $500 for both comprehensive and collision for the four-day period.

What happens if you don’t have insurance when the sale is official?

If you don’t own a car or you don’t have insurance in your own name, you need to get insurance while you’re still in the finance office. The dealer will ask to see proof of insurance before you can leave with your keys in hand.

When you don’t have the coverage, you may not get to leave with the car until you get on the phone and purchase a policy.

You can buy auto insurance quickly if you use the world wide web. One of the fastest ways to get insurance when you’re in a pinch is to use an online rate comparison tool.

You can enter your personal information into the tool, provide the VIN, and select the coverage options that you want.

Get your instant quotes today, select the right auto insurance company, and don’t take the risk of driving off of the lot without insurance.

Getting Dealership Auto Insurance Fast

If you do have an insurance agent, it is relatively easy to get coverage for your new vehicle with an auto insurance policy from your dealership BUT be careful: you will likely pay higher rates.

Once you’ve selected the car you want, fax your agent the details from the dealership so they can issue an insurance binder that will take effect immediately.

You may also be able to get in touch with your insurance company’s weekend car-buying hotline.

Because many insurance companies anticipate clients buying cars on the weekend, they set up a hotline you can call right from the dealership to get your new car added to your policy right away.

If you call the hotline and can’t get your own agent on the phone, simply call them the following week and explain the situation. They should transfer the paperwork without a problem.

You can start looking for auto insurance in your local area by entering your ZIP code in the free comparison tool. However, be careful of driving without insurance. You’re not the only out there who’s considered this and it may cost you. Here’s a list of uninsured driver rankings for each state in the U.S.

Uninsured Driver Rank by State
StateUninsured PercentRank
Florida26.70%1
Mississippi23.70%2
New Mexico20.80%3
Michigan20.30%4
Tennessee20.00%5
Alabama18.40%6
Washington17.40%7
Indiana16.70%8
Arkansas16.60%9
D.C.15.60%10
Alaska15.40%11
California15.20%12
Rhode Island15.20%13
New Jersey14.90%14
Wisconsin14.30%15
Texas14.10%16
Missouri14.00%17
Illinois13.70%18
Colorado13.30%19
Louisiana13.00%20
Oregon12.70%21
Ohio12.40%22
Maryland12.40%23
Arizona12.00%24
Georgia12.00%25
Kentucky11.50%26
Minnesota11.50%27
Delaware11.40%28
Nevada10.60%29
Hawaii10.60%30
Oklahoma10.50%31
West Virginia10.10%32
Montana9.90%33
Virginia9.90%34
New Hampshire9.90%35
Connecticut9.40%36
South Carolina9.40%37
Iowa8.70%38
Utah8.20%39
Idaho8.20%40
Wyoming7.80%41
South Dakota7.70%42
Pennsylvania7.60%43
Kansas7.20%44
North Dakota6.80%45
Nebraska6.80%46
Vermont6.80%47
North Carolina6.50%48
Massachusetts6.20%49
New York6.10%50
Maine4.50%51
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Using an Existing Auto Insurance Policy

Alternatively, you may already have the coverage you need. Check your existing policy. There is often a provision to insure new vehicles automatically.

This provision keeps your new car covered for a few days until you can officially add it to your policy. This gives you time to call your insurance company and tell them to remove your old vehicle from your policy, add the new one or both.

To find out if you have this provision, contact your agent or refer to your auto insurance policy page. It will tell you the extent of the coverage and how long you have before it expires.

While convenient, this option can be risky as many dealers and even some law enforcement agencies aren’t aware of it.

The dealer may ask you to provide written proof from your agent that your new car will be temporarily covered, and even then, this may be considered insufficient to get you off the lot.

This is especially true if the dealership is financing you, as most banks and lenders require proof of insurance before you can leave with the car.

Even if your dealer does consider this sufficient proof and does let you off the lot, you should still book an appointment with your insurance agent as soon as possible to officially add the new car.

Otherwise, you may be in for a very inconvenient traffic stop.

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If you have already picked one specific car, give your agent the details and have it insured before you go pick it up.

According to Auto Check, you should set a date before you officially purchase the car. Get the VIN number and purchase price, so you can make a calculated decision.

Use this option only when you’re rock-solid on the exact car you will purchase and have negotiated the details once and for all.

Tips for Getting Your First Auto Insurance Policy

It’s relatively easy for experienced drivers with existing auto insurance policies to insure their new car.

In some cases, it is even optional for them to drive off the lot before the new car is added to the policy. However, it is a good idea for new drivers to always have insurance before purchasing a car. If you are a new driver, here are some tips for securing your first policy.

  • When shopping for cars, familiarize yourself with typical insurance rates for the makes and models that appeal to you. Use a price comparison site to see what insurance companies in your zip code are charging for different types of cars.
  • Auto insurance is especially expensive for new drivers. Compare prices and see if you can get added to someone else’s insurance. A spouse, parent or older sibling may be willing to help out.
  • In a pinch, you may be able to get your first policy right at the dealership. Ask your salesperson if they will allow you to access the internet and shop for insurance before you get your car. If so, it’s possible that you can sign up for a policy right then and there and get your agent to fax proof of insurance to the dealership immediately so you can drive off.

Getting a new car is always an exciting time, and it’s totally possible to enjoy it without having car insurance. However, if you plan on going home with it anytime soon, you need to be insured.

Use these simple guidelines to get you behind the wheel and off the lot sooner rather than later.

Enter your ZIP code below to find car insurance rates that work for you!

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Do you buy a car or auto insurance first?

Whether or not you have to get insurance first depends on how you plan to pay for your car. But there’s no if’s, and’s, or but’s about it folks, you’re going to need to get the car insurance!

  • Financing or leasing requires insurance up front
  • Paying cash requires proof of insurance before registration
  • The kind of insurance coverage you need depends on how you are paying for your car
  • Even if you had a policy on a previous car, you must manage your auto insurance policy to accommodate the new one

If you are financing or leasing a car then you’ll need to go ahead and purchase an insurance policy first. The dealership will not let you drive off the lot without proof of insurance in hand.

This is because the banks will not finance your new car without insurance. This is more to protect their assets than it is to comply with the law.

When you finance a car, you agree to carry certain coverages so that the bank can recover their asset in the case of an accident.

If you are paying cash for a car from a private seller, then you are usually able to purchase the car before the insurance.

The kicker is that the DMV will not let you register your car until it is properly insured according to your state’s laws. I must also remind you that it is illegal to drive without car insurance, so it’s best not to drive your new car until it is insured!

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Buying Your First Car

When buying your first car, it’s important to remember that auto insurance is a necessary expense.

It is illegal for you to drive a car without being properly insured according to your state’s laws and regulations. There are some things that you can do to make sure that buying insurance for your first car is less of a headache.

Pick More Than One Car

When you are looking at cars, make sure you pick out two or more that you like.

This will be helpful when getting insurance quotes because one car might be cheaper insurance-wise. When it comes to insurance rates, no car will have the same price.

You should always have more than one option just in case you cannot afford the insurance on the car that you want.

Get Several Quotes

There are a plethora of insurance companies out there, why just get one quote? Different insurance companies will have different rates so don’t be afraid to shop around!

Get on Someone Else’s Policy

If you live with a relative, you can try to get on their insurance policy. Depending on the auto insurance company, you could receive a discount for bundling your car with theirs.

You will also benefit from their insurance history and experience, so this will result in a lower payment for you!

Buying a car comes great responsibility! You must have auto insurance to drive and there is no way around it! These driving laws are in place to protect you and everyone else around you.

You Are a Danger to Drivers and Pedestrians

Driving without insurance affects everyone around you. According to state legislatures, you pose a huge threat to drivers and pedestrians when you do not follow the law and carry car insurance.

Accidents happen, and auto insurance is meant to protect everyone financially in the event that one occurs.

You Affect Responsible Driver’s Premiums

If you’re not paying insurance, someone still has to pay. Responsible drivers end up paying higher premiums to make up for those around them who are not.

These premiums rise often, and usually, these responsible drivers are not too happy to have to pay for someone else who is not chipping in.

It’s like when you go out to dinner with six friends and plan to split the bill but you “forgot your wallet.” It’s better for everyone when you’re a team player!

What kind of coverage do I need?

The kind of coverage you need will depend on how you are purchasing your vehicle.

If you are leasing your car, the bank will usually have a minimum liability limit that you can carry.

A liability limit is a policy’s minimum benefits payout. It covers damage done to other vehicles as well as bodily injury claims. The bank will also require that you carry comprehensive and collision coverage. Comprehensive and collision cover damages were done to your own vehicle.

Financing is a little more flexible. You are still required to carry liability, but often you can choose what limits you would like. You are also still required to carry comprehensive and collision coverage. There are sometimes exceptions to this when a car is 10 years or older.

When you pay for your car in cash, you own it, which that you are only required to carry the liability limits that your state requires.

It is still best to go over all options with your insurance agent to see which coverages may be appropriate for you and your vehicle.

The bottom line, you can’t avoid having auto insurance when buying a car. No matter how you pay for your vehicle, it’s usually best to handle the insurance first. Remember to get plenty of quotes and to have a backup car in mind- just in case!

Can you keep a car without insurance?

You may keep your car without insurance but you must have it insured to drive.

  • Drivers should be informed about the different types of coverages available on their auto insurance policy
  • In most states, auto insurance is mandatory and it is illegal to drive without auto insurance
  • Keeping a car without insurance coverage can lead to increased future insurance premiums and forfeiture of your car registration in some states

Car insurance can be one of the more confusing aspects of driving and car ownership, however, it is still very important.

While you may not find the answers to all of your questions at your fingertips, you can find the best rates on car insurance by using a price comparison calculator online.

This type of tool gives you the opportunity to compare several different car insurance companies, policies, and premiums all in once place.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, nearly every state in our nation requires drivers to have at least some type of insurance coverage. This is a legal and financial responsibility of every driver on the road.

Type in your state at the top right-hand corner to find uninsured percent and rank. The state with the most uninsured drivers is in Florida, while Maine has the least uninsured drivers.

Having insurance not only protects yourself but also protects the following:

  • Other drivers
  • Pedestrians
  • Bicyclists

Every driver should check with their auto insurance company and their state to be sure they are carrying at least the minimum amount of required auto insurance in your state.

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Consequences of No Car Insurance

It may seem like no big deal to try to slide by without auto insurance, especially if you only plan on doing so for a short period of time.

However, know that if you ignore the financial hot water it could put you in, you may end up having to pay for property damages and bodily injuries.

You will face some major ramifications if you are in an accident or stopped by law enforcement without the proper insurance coverage in your state.

Penalties for no insurance vary by state but usually include:

  • Large fines of $1,000 or more
  • Jail time
  • Community service
  • Suspension or revocation of your driver’s license
  • Suspension or revocation of your car registration
  • Court appearances
  • SR22 insurance requirement

Even if you do not cause any property damages or bodily injuries, you will be subjected to these penalties. If you are caught multiple times driving without auto insurance, the penalties will increase.

Types of Auto Insurance

It is important for drivers to understand the different types of coverage available to them. Being knowledgeable about coverage types will help drivers make the best decisions regarding their budget and their car insurance.

If you are intending to keep a car without insurance, this information is also important to know.

Your auto insurance policy actually consists of several different types of policies rolled into one and can include:

Liability

Liability coverage is usually the minimum amount of coverage required of drivers. Property damage liability covers the cost to repair or replace other people’s property that you have damaged.

Bodily injury liability covers medical bills and funeral expenses related to injuries you have caused.

Drivers should understand that liability coverage only pays for damages they cause to other people; it does not cover damages that they incur in an accident.

Uninsured/Underinsured

Even though insurance coverage is required by law in most states, some drivers still choose to ignore the law. If you are the victim of a hit-and-run accident or of a driver who does not have insurance, your own uninsured motorist policy will help cover your costs.

If you have underinsured motorist coverage, your policy will pick up the costs where the other driver’s coverage leaves off.

Medical Payments/Personal Injury Protection

Your medical bills from an accident can be covered by med pay, also known as PIP coverage. In addition, lost wages and paying for necessarily hired help around the house for cooking, cleaning, or childcare can potentially be covered under med pay.

Collision

If you are in an accident and have damage to your vehicle, you will need to file a claim under your collision coverage. With this type of coverage, you select your policy limits as well as your deductible.

Comprehensive

Like collision coverage, comprehensive requires you to choose your deductible and policy limits.

However, it is different in that it covers non-accident losses. For instance, hitting wildlife, theft, vandalism, floods, fires, and natural disasters can all be covered under comprehensive.

Can you keep a car without insurance?

For various reasons, you may be wondering if you can keep a car without having insurance. As previously stated, if you intend on driving the car, you are most likely legally required to get insurance coverage on it in accordance with your state laws.

If you intend to keep your vehicle in storage and not drive it for several months, perhaps due to being in the military, taking an extended vacation, or even going to college, you may be tempted to cancel or not renew your insurance policy.

However, prior to taking this step, you should do some research. Some states, such as Pennsylvania and South Carolina require that you turn over your car registration and license plate if you give up your auto insurance.

How a Lapse in Coverage Can Negatively Impact You

In addition, if you no longer have auto insurance, you will have a gap in your coverage history. When you go to insure the car again or even a different car, you may have difficulty finding an insurance company to underwrite your policy or finding a policy at a rate you can afford.

This is because insurance companies frown upon coverage gaps. There is potential for fraud with gaps in insurance.

For example, you could have had damage to your vehicle during your time with no coverage and then try to file a claim for it once coverage is again in place.

You should discuss your situation and your needs with your auto insurance company prior to making any decisions about keeping your car without insurance.

Many car insurance companies will not offer any type of coverage unless you first purchase liability insurance.

Although some will let you have only a comprehensive policy which would cover damages if your car was in the following situations:

  • In storage
  • Was stolen
  • Vandalized
  • Flooded
  • Had fire damage

Keep in mind that if you plan to drive your vehicle, even only for a few minutes or a couple of blocks, you are legally required to have auto insurance on it.

Drivers are, therefore, required to have auto insurance on cars they are just purchasing before driving off of the dealer’s lot.

Depending on your circumstances, it may seem like a good idea to keep a car without insurance. However, doing so can set you even further back financially.

Before you buy a car, find out how you can save money on your auto insurance policy by searching with our online price comparison tool.

Buy A New Car Without Auto Insurance FAQs

In this section, we’ll recap this extensive guide with frequently asked questions you see on search engines across the internet.

Can you buy a car from dealerships without insurance?

Yes. You can buy a car without auto insurance, but you’re not permitted to drive it.

How do I get car insurance before I buy a car?

Contact an auto insurance company and let them know you’re buying a vehicle. They will be able to give you a temporary policy for a few days until you can enter a standard auto insurance policy.

Do I need proof of insurance to buy a car?

You don’t need proof of insurance to buy a car, but if you happen to have an existing auto insurance policy, show the dealer you have an auto insurance policy ready to go.

Can I drive a car without insurance if I just bought it?

No. It’s highly recommended that you do not drive your vehicle without auto insurance especially after you just bought it.

Who has the cheapest auto insurance?

Cheap auto insurance depends on factors that determine auto insurance such as location, driving record, credit history, vehicle, and discounts. Each auto insurance company has different rates, so you’ll have to shop around find the auto insurance rates that work for you.

Do I need auto insurance before I buy a used car?

Buying auto insurance without a car, new or used, will help you get your car faster. You don’t need to have auto insurance before you buy the used car.

Can you buy a car without a license?

Yes. You can buy a without a license. If you’re planning on driving the car, however, you’ll need to get a license from your local DMV.

Get started comparing cheap auto insurance rates online now!

References:

  1. http://www.autocheck.com/vehiclehistory/autocheck/en/vinbasics
  2. http://www.iii.org/article/can-i-drive-legally-without-insurance

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