How to Move a Car Without Insurance

Driving a car you just bought without insurance is a bold move. It's so risky that law enforcement can impound your vehicle until your vehicle is registered and insured. You have plenty of other options.

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Tonya Sisler has a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of South Carolina in Journalism and has worked for 15+ years in management. She has also completed a proofreading certification and is currently a professional writer.

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Brad Larson has been in the insurance industry for more than a dozen years. He started out as a claims adjuster for a national carrier. He has since switched to the agency side of the business. Brad is licensed in all P&C lines.

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Reviewed by Brad Larsen
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent Brad Larsen

UPDATED: May 10, 2022

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Things to Know

  • You can move a car without insurance by towing it behind an insured vehicle
  • Auto insurance rules are different when a car is being towed versus when the same vehicle is being driven on the road
  • New cars that are yet to be registered with the DMV can’t be legally operated on public roads
  • If you get involved in an accident when towing a car, the auto liability insurance on the lead car will extend coverage to the car being towed

Driving a car you just bought without insurance is a bold move. It’s against the law to have a vehicle on the road without proof of insurance, and the penalties can be financially steep. Should you be stopped, police officers will require proof of insurance, and if you’re not able to show a valid auto policy is active, you could get in serious trouble.

This means that one of the questions we receive a lot is how to move a car without insurance. If you’ve just purchased your first car and you have no existing policy, it’s recommended that you don’t drive. For most dealers, the purchase can’t be completed without presenting proof of insurance coverage.

Read through this guide to learn how to move a car without different types of car insurance coverage and how to get insurance so you can drive it.

If you are moving a car, compare car insurance rates right here to find the best deal on the coverage you need. Enter your ZIP code above to begin.

Can you tow a vehicle without insurance?

If you dare to drive a vehicle home without insurance and an unfortunate event of vandalism, theft, or accident occurs, consider it gone. You can’t drive a new car out of the driveway without some form of active insurance coverage. Towing a car without insurance means that anything that happens to the vehicle will be solely your financial responsibility.

Even if it’s a second-hand vehicle, you may have to inquire if the previous owner hasn’t canceled or transferred the insurance coverage before you drive it home and probably purchase your coverage the next day.

That being said, the best way to move an uninsured car is by towing it. You ask, “Can you tow a car that isn’t insured?” and we say it’s the best way to transport a vehicle without active insurance to its destination.

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What if you need to move your vehicle because it won’t start?

If you have an inoperable vehicle just sitting in your backyard or driveway, you don’t have to purchase auto insurance for it. Only automobiles registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles and operated on public roads are required to have insurance.

However, if you’re wondering whether or not you can register a car without insurance, the answer is no. The state won’t contribute to negligence. Therefore, you’ll need to show proof of insurance before you receive vehicle registration.

Towing is a safe way to move cars after an accident or move inoperable vehicles.

In that case, always make sure that you are carrying the appropriate auto insurance level to avoid problems with state authorities.

If you are looking to purchase auto insurance for your car, compare quotes from several car insurance companies before deciding to buy from one of them.

Car insurance is based on risk.

Car insurance companies use different methods to determine a customer’s risk level and charge premiums accordingly. Therefore, it’s possible for other insurance providers to offer varying prices in their quotes.

How to Move an Inoperable Vehicle

At some point, you will need to move your inoperable vehicle from your driveway or backyard to some other place — say a junkyard or a friend’s auto body shop—if you finally decide to get rid of it. If you don’t have an insurance policy on it, there’s no reason to have one active for a mere few hours if you’re staying within the same city or other location. However, this means you have to be careful with how you proceed.

Since the vehicle is not registered or insured, you cannot drive it on public roads. What is the best way to move a car that’s not working?

It would be best if you came up with a way to transport it to its new destination, and your best option is to tow it. Check out our guide on how you can tow a vehicle that’s not insured.

The question is, do you need insurance for that? What if something happens on the road and your trailing car causes damage to third-party cars or other property?

Whether you need car insurance for the vehicle you are transporting depends on planning to move it. If you have it towed, you don’t need insurance. However, if you decide to drive it to its destination, you have to carry auto insurance.

Simply put, you should have insurance on the vehicle you are moving if it will be moving on its own. If not, no need for insurance. The same case applies to a new car when transferring it from the dealer’s shop to your home.

Forfeiting auto insurance is legal just as long as the vehicle is not registered, and you will not be driving it on public roadways.

What happens if there’s an accident?

When towing a vehicle, the person behind the lead car’s wheel needs to be a highly skilled driver. However, the chances of causing an accident, your skill level notwithstanding, are pretty high.

If you have a car in tow, the following scenarios are possible:

  • You could collide with oncoming traffic
  • You may hit the brakes late and crash into another vehicle
  • You could veer off your lane, causing a massive disaster on the freeway

If the car you are using to tow the uninsured vehicle is covered, you will be protected in specific scenarios.

Let’s examine the percentage of drivers that aren’t insured in each state before we move on.

Estimated Percentage Of Uninsured Motorists By State
RankStatesPercentage of Uninsured Motorists
3New Mexico21%
10Washington D.C.16%
13Rhode Island15%
14New Jersey15%
32West Virginia10%
35New Hampshire10%
37South Carolina9%
42South Dakota7%
45North Dakota7%
48North Carolina7%
50New York6%
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If you end up causing damage to property with either the lead car or the car being towed (which is uninsured), the lead car’s liability coverage extends to the trailing vehicle.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, any damages caused by the car you are towing will still be covered by your auto liability coverage.

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Can you tow an uninsured car?

You don’t need car insurance to tow a vehicle from point A to point B. If the lead car is insured, the coverage will extend to the attached vehicle.

Note that the only coverage that extends to the towed vehicle is liability insurance coverage.

Check with your auto insurance provider to confirm, don’t just assume. If not, you may have to purchase separate coverage for the car that’s being towed.

In the event of an accident, you may be in for a big surprise and end up paying for the losses caused by the car you are towing.

Some auto insurance providers have specific rules when it comes to towing vehicles.

For instance, some auto insurance companies will only provide auto liability coverage to the car being towed if they belong to the same person.

Be careful before you borrow a friend’s car to tow your uninsured vehicle. You might end up paying for the damages yourself.

You can choose to purchase coverage to avoid such losses, especially if it’s a new car. Compare quotes from several providers to find a favorable deal.

What about the damages to the hitched vehicle?

If you have coverages such as collision and comprehensive added to your policy, only the lead car will be protected. The only coverage that extends to the hitched car is liability insurance.

According to Harrelson Law Firm, hitch collisions have a higher chance of causing injury.

The insurer will repair or replace the lead car if it’s totaled, but any damages to the vehicle that was being towed won’t be covered. Physical damage coverage doesn’t extend to the towed car. You will have to pay for the physical damages on your own.

Hiring A Towing Company

You can tow an unregistered vehicle from one place to another without car insurance. Instead of towing it, you can decide to hire a towing company to move it for you.

However, be cautious when hiring a tow driver. Some towing companies take advantage of people, so it’s best to understand the service you’re paying for before you get duped.

The tow company will be liable for any damages if their driver causes an accident with the tow truck while towing your car.

The company will be liable for the damages to your car, too. You have the option of purchasing extra coverage via the towing company. Whether you buy or not, depends on the vehicle you are transporting.

In the event of an accident that causes damages to your car or other property damage with your vehicle involved, you will not be able to prove negligence on the part of the towing company if you don’t buy the extra coverage offered.

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What if you’re caught moving a car without an auto insurance policy?

For every vehicle owner, the term “impoundment” can be quite scary. And yes, your vehicle will be flagged down and taken to the impound lot until you meet the state’s legal requirements.

Changing car insurance when moving states is an appropriate measure if your company doesn’t do business in that state.

If you don’t have insurance, find a company that does business in that state. Once you have a permanent address, contact your provider and let them know about your address change.

Your car insurance rates may increase or decrease, depending on where you live.

Having your vehicle impounded will not only affect your normal operations but will come at a cost. Avoid the stressful situation of following up on your car’s release by insuring it in the first place.

This is why the answer to the question, “Can I get my car towed without insurance on the vehicle?” is so important. You absolutely can tow your vehicle, and it’s even recommended, rather than driving it without active coverage.

Always shop around before you buy car insurance. Before you move a car, compare car insurance quotes by entering your ZIP code into our free rate tool below.

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