Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insuranc...

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Melanie Musson is the fourth generation in her family to work in the insurance industry. She grew up with insurance talk as part of her everyday conversation and has studied to gain an in-depth knowledge of state-specific car insurance laws and dynamics as well as a broad understanding of how insurance fits into every person’s life, from budgets to coverage levels. She also specializes in automa...

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Reviewed by Melanie Musson
Published Insurance Expert

UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020

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For the most part, auto insurance is designed to protect a vehicle against accidental damage and to pay for any damage that vehicle causes. This means that auto insurance insures the vehicle, not the driver or the vehicle’s owner. If you do not have a car, you don’t really need car insurance in most cases.

There are a few occasions when purchasing an auto insurance policy makes sense, even if you don’t have your own vehicle. For example, if you must frequently drive a car that you do not own, carrying your own liability policy can protect you during an accident if the vehicle doesn’t have coverage. This may be important if your job requires you to drive a car you don’t own, or if you frequently drive your family member’s vehicle.

The other reason you may wish to carry auto insurance even if you do not have a vehicle is so that you can obtain personal injury protection or medical payments coverage. This coverage pays for injuries that you sustain while in any vehicle as a driver or passenger. It also pays if you are injured as a pedestrian. This is the only auto coverage that follows you no matter whose vehicle you are driving, and can be very valuable.

Whenever a vehicle causes damage in an auto accident, the owner of that vehicle is responsible to pay for the damage. This is why you must have proof of insurance in order to register a vehicle. If the vehicle is not insured, the liability may pass to the driver of the car. If the driver of the car is not insured, he and the owner may both have suits filed against them or be sent to collections for the amount of the damage bill.

If you are unable to pay for damage that you are responsible for, you may have your license revoked until you are able to provide proof of insurance or the damage is paid off. The bill may also damage your credit score if you are sent to collections.

How to obtain auto insurance without owning a car?

Depending on your circumstances, you could be added to another person’s auto policy rather than taking out a separate policy in your name. This would allow you to have access to all of the same coverage without needing to purchase an auto policy. You can be added to another person’s policy if you live with him or have access to any of his vehicles.

Even if you do not live full-time with a relative, you can probably be added to his policy. College students can be covered under the parent’s auto policy even if they do not live at home. Your relative should contact the insurance company to determine whether coverage would transfer to you as a driver on the policy, and if this is a wise decision for your needs.

If you do not have any relatives whose coverage you can use, you may be able to purchase a limited policy as a driver. You can contact any insurance company and discuss your options with them. Depending on the laws of your state, you may or may not be able to obtain auto insurance with medical coverage as a driver-only policy. This would allow you to use personal injury protection insurance without having a car tied to the policy.

You can also purchase a personal liability insurance to cover any damage that you cause. Usually sold alongside home insurance or renter’s insurance policies, personal liability coverage protects you from lawsuits in the event that you ever cause accidental damage to another person’s property or person. Personal liability coverage pays for everything from car accidents to people slipping and falling while at your home, and is usually a relatively cheap policy to purchase so it’s well worth the investment for most people.

Whether you decide to purchase your own car insurance policy or get added to another person’s existing auto policy, knowing what you are covered for before getting into a vehicle is always a wise idea. By knowing before you start driving that any damage you may cause will be covered by insurance, you can have peace of mind on the road.