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Can you insure a car you don't own?

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All vehicle owners must take out car insurance, but if you want to drive someone else’s vehicle, such as a parent’s or friend’s, you’ll still need insurance. We look at how to get insurance on a car you don’t own, the legal implications and the potential issues you need to consider.

Can I insure a car that’s not in my name?

Yes, you can. You may want to do this if you don’t need to drive very often and want to use someone else’s car rather than owning one yourself. Or you may want to borrow one to use for a specific purpose.

Depending on how long you need the car and how often you plan to drive it, there are different ways of insuring yourself on a car that’s not yours. You can take out a full policy on it, be added as a named driver to the owner’s existing policy, or take out temporary insurance.

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The legality of insuring a car you don’t own

The law says you must have motor insurance to drive a vehicle on UK roads. There’s nothing in the law to prevent you from insuring a car you don’t own, but the following applies:

  • You must be insured with at least third-party cover on any car you drive, whether you own it or not
  • It’s against the law for someone to allow you to use their car without having insurance to drive it
  • The registered keeper of the vehicle shown on its V5C registration document is the person officially responsible for it. That person may not necessarily be the owner

Why would you want to insure a car you don’t own?

There are many reasons you might want to drive, and therefore insure, a car you don’t own, whether it’s over the short or long term.

With road taxes, maintenance costs and the cost of buying the car itself, owning an automobile can be expensive, so you might not want or be able to spend the money involved. If you don’t need to use a car much, you might not think it’s worth the cost or hassle, or find it sustainable from an environmental perspective.

You might have an emergency where you need to borrow a vehicle, or you might need to drive for a one-off event, such as moving house or going on holiday.

If you’re a new or young driver, the cost of owning and insuring a car could be unaffordable. You might want to drive your parents’ car instead, or you might not have anywhere you can park or keep one safely. You might also need to be insured on a car while you’re learning to drive.

Despite the financial benefits and the fact you don’t have to do much of the work involved in owning a vehicle, there could be downsides to driving someone else’s car. Taking out an insurance policy on a car you don’t own can be more expensive than if you owned it, and as the car’s not yours, you might not be able to use it whenever and for whatever you like.

You may also not be as familiar with it as a vehicle you own and drive frequently, so you could be more likely to have an accident.

Who is the registered keeper of a car?

The registered keeper is the car’s main user and is responsible for taxing it and ensuring it has an up-to-date Ministry of Transport (MOT) certificate and at least third-party insurance. They’re also usually responsible for paying any parking or traffic fines.

The vehicle owner is the person who paid for or was given the car. While the owner and registered keeper are often the same, this isn’t always true. For example, if you drive a company car, the company would be the owner, but you’d be the registered keeper. If you drive a leased car, often the leasing company will be the owner, but you’ll be the registered keeper. You would still need to take out your own insurance for a leased car.

When you buy an automobile, you’ll get a V5C registration document, also known as the vehicle log book, which states who the registered keeper is.

The dealer usually handles the registration when you buy a new vehicle, while the seller will do it if you buy a used one. It can be done online or by post for used cars, but either way, the seller will need to fill in the new keeper slip on the existing V5C document and give it to you. A new V5C will then be sent to you with the updated details.

Does the registered keeper have to insure the car?

Although the registered keeper is responsible for ensuring the vehicle has insurance, they don’t have to be the person taking it out. Someone else can do it if the insurer allows it, but not all do.

Does the main driver have to be the registered keeper?

While the registered keeper is often the main driver, this doesn’t have to be the case. For example, one person in a married couple might be the car’s registered keeper, but the other person might drive it more often.

For insurance purposes, the main driver must be the person who drives the car the most. It’s considered fraud if you say it’s someone else, which might be done to lower the insurance cost. This is known as fronting.

How to get insured on someone else’s car

The best way to get insured on someone else’s vehicle will depend on the situation. Take the following steps to make sure you go with the best option for your needs:

  1. If you have comprehensive insurance on another car and are the primary policyholder, first check whether it covers you to drive any car as a third party. Many policies do, but not all, so consult your policy documents. You need to be 25 or older to be covered. This is only likely to be the best option if you need to use the other person’s car in an emergency or as a one-off
  2. Find out whether you can be added to the existing policy as a named driver. There’s usually an admin fee to do this. This is often the easiest and cheapest way for younger drivers to get insured on their parents’ car if they plan to drive it regularly. However, it’ll increase the cost of the policy, as insurers consider new drivers more likely to be in an accident than more experienced ones
  3. If being added as a named driver isn’t an option because you’ll be the primary driver, consider taking out a full insurance policy on the vehicle yourself. You’ll need to tell the insurer you’re not the owner or registered keeper, as it may not be willing to provide you with a policy. It’s usually more expensive to insure a car if you’re not the owner or registered keeper, as insurers consider you more likely to make a claim
  4. If you only need to drive the car briefly, consider taking out a temporary insurance policy rather than paying for an entire year. Some insurers offer special policies that can cover you for anywhere between one hour and 60 days, depending on the provider. They’re quick to take out and may allow you to add extra time later. Some insurers will temporarily allow another driver to be added to the existing policy or may charge for them to be insured for a full year but then refund the money for any remaining time when they no longer need the car

The information you’ll need to take out insurance on a vehicle you don’t own will be much the same as if you’re taking it out on your own car.

This includes your personal details, such as your date of birth, driving licence information, details of any previous accidents, insurance claims or driving offences, and information about the car, including its make, model, annual mileage and where it’s kept. You’ll also need to say who’s the owner or registered keeper.

If someone is adding you as a named driver to their policy, they’ll need to provide your details.

If you’re adding your child or someone else to your insurance policy as a named driver, your premium will likely go up, and you could lose your no-claims discount if they have an accident. They also won’t build up their own no-claims discount.

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Potential challenges and limitations of insuring a car you don’t own

Issues to consider if you’re taking out a full insurance policy on a vehicle you don’t own are that it’s likely to be more expensive than insuring your own car and your choice of insurers will be limited.

You won’t build up a no-claims discount if you’re a named driver on someone else’s policy. This means you won’t get the same discount if you take out a policy of your own in the future, as you haven’t been able to build up time with no claims.


It’s possible to insure a car you don’t own if you want to drive someone else’s. There are several ways to do this, but it’s essential to understand each option’s pros and cons and always be honest with the insurer.

Frequently asked questions about insuring a car you don’t own

Although you don’t technically need the owner’s permission to take out a full insurance policy on their car, you’ll need their permission to use it. You’ll also need their permission if you want them to add you to their existing policy as a named driver.

If you take out a temporary insurance policy, you may be asked for the owner’s details, so you’d need their permission first.

Yes, it’s possible to be added as a named driver by the policyholder rather than taking out a policy yourself.

If you’ve taken out insurance in your name, you’d claim on the policy as usual, which wouldn’t affect the owner’s insurance. However, if you’re a named driver on their policy, the cost of their insurance and their no-claims discount could be affected.

Yes, there are specialist and general insurers that offer temporary car insurance. Some insurers will also let you add other drivers to your policy temporarily.

If you take out a full insurance policy in your name, you could build up or lose your no-claims bonus. Being added as a named driver to the vehicle owner’s policy could affect their no-claims bonus if you have an accident and they must make a claim.