Chelsey Tucker graduated with a Bachelor of History degree from Metropolitan State University in 2019. She now writes about insurance with her specialty being life insurance and has been quoted on Help Smart Phone and MEL Magazine.

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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. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com.

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Mar 19, 2020

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The lowdown...

  • Car dealerships will likely have auto insurance to cover all drivers
  • Purchasing from a personal owner complicates the test driving process
  • Always be sure you are comfortable with the car you are buying before making the purchase

There are millions of people in the United States who have yet to have a license and buy their first car. Once you go through the process of getting your driver’s license, though, the next step is usually that initial car purchase.

You scour the internet as well as advertisements in newspapers and such and find some cars you want to take a look at. When you go see them, though, how exactly do you test drive those cars when you have no car insurance, to begin with?

The law states that in order to drive a car, you need to have insurance on that car.

As a consumer, though, you surely do not need to actually buy a car insurance policy just for the purpose of test driving an automobile that you do not even own.

There are ways around this problem and having knowledge and awareness of them can help you gain comfort in what you can and cannot do as you begin to decide on your very first automobile.

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Buying From a Car Dealership

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The vast majority of Americans are going to be going to a car dealership to purchase their first vehicle. You show up in the showroom and begin looking at all of the cars that are in there and out of the lot.

The car dealer will then ask you if you want to test drive the automobile, but can you?

When you go to a car dealership, chances are they are going to have a commercial auto insurance policy in effect.

When dealerships buy these policies, there are certain policy symbols that they can add onto them that will dictate what type of coverage the insured, the dealership, is going to get.

With a car dealership, what the vast majority of them choose for a policy symbol on that commercial auto insurance policy is known as any named driver.

This means that anyone can get behind the wheel of one of their cars for a test drive and be covered under the commercial auto insurance policy that the dealership has and is paying for. What you want to do as a consumer is asked before you get behind the wheel.

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Purchasing Outside of a Car Dealership

Things get a bit more tricky when you are buying from someone who is selling their old car in their driveway. These individuals are not going to have insurance the same way a car dealership will.

They probably will just have a personal car insurance policy on the vehicle they are selling and they are likely to be the only driver listed on their policy. In this case, you would not be covered in the event that you test drove the vehicle.

There are other things that you can do though to get a feel for the car. This includes allowing the owner to take you for a drive so that you can check everything out. You can listen to the car all that you want, look at the engine, make sure all of the electronics work, and so on.

You can even bring a mechanic with you to check out the car from top to bottom for peace of mind.

What you cannot do though is the test drive it since no coverage is going to be in effect.

Knowing what you can and cannot do as a consumer when shopping for a car with no insurance is very important. This is not only so that you are abiding by the law, but also so that you know you will be protected should something terrible happens.

Having an awareness of how car insurance plays a role in the test driving process of car buying can give you a better understanding of what you can legally and safely do when shopping.

Shop for car insurance today so you will be ready to drive that new car off the lot.