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Can a 16-year-old title and insure a car?


Question: Can a 16-year-old have their own car title and have their own car insurance?

Answer: You may be able to buy a car and insurance in your own name at age 16; however, you would normally be required to have a parent or guardian sign with you on any legal documents surrounding these items since you are a minor. For all matters regarding teen car insurance, read our car insurance for young drivers page.

First, it will depend upon your specific state laws at what age one can legally have ownership of a vehicle. State laws vary obvious from one state to another regarding many things including the minimum age they will permit a person to own a motor vehicle. So your state may or may not allow you to title and register a car solely in your name at the age of 16.

In general, a juvenile cannot enter into a contract and, thus, cannot be a sole owner of a motor vehicle. A minor typically cannot own property, his or her parents technically own that property until the child becomes an adult. In many states. if a parent will co-sign on a loan for a car, the juvenile can buy a car, but the parent will be the legal owner.

There can be exceptions to this generalization depending again upon state laws. So you will need to contact the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for your state to find out at 16 if you title and register a car in your name only or if you will need a parent or guardian to sign on it with you.

Here are a few examples of state laws that we are aware of regarding a minor owning a car. 

In Texas, the Texas Department of Transportation states there are no age restrictions in order for an individual to be recorded as the owner of a vehicle. However they also go on to say that insurance companies may impose age restrictions on persons they insure and may charge higher premiums for certain age groups. Since proof of financial responsibility (liability insurance) is a prerequisite to obtaining Texas registration, an individual's ability to obtain this insurance may limit his ability to register his vehicle.

In North Carolina, the DOT states that their laws do not set a minimum age limit as to ownership of a vehicle as long as the owner can sign their name on the application of title. However a plate cannot be issued without proof of owner having liability insurance on the vehicle.

The NCDOT goes on to note that insurance companies normally will require you to have a parent or guardian sign your insurance documents (contract) if you are under 18 years of age and thus still considered a minor in the eyes of the law.

Even those states that will permit a teenager to register a car may require a parent or guardian to sign on any legal documents or contracts since they are still a minor.

For instance, the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) states if you are under 18 and want to title a vehicle, your parent or legal guardian must complete a minor consent form. A parent or legal guardian must also accompany you when you appear in front of the Clerk of Courts title office staff to have a vehicle titled in your name in Ohio if you are a minor.

Once you find out your state's laws for titling and registering a vehicle as a minor at age 16, you then can contact and compare insurance companies for quotes and for their guidelines on a minor obtaining a policy. Most insurance companies will require a parent or guardian to sign on an auto insurance policy with you since it is a legal document.

In general one must be an adult to obtain an insurance policy on their own, so over the age of 18. At age 16 you are still considered a minor thus in general state laws and insurance companies guidelines will require you to have a parent or guardian sign on legal documents, such as an insurance policy, with you.

To see if your particular state has any laws or regulations regarding the minimum age to buy an auto insurance policy and as a minor if there are any consent forms for a parent/guardian to sign, contact your state's insurance regulator. This state agency can tell you if there are any extra measures you may need to take to have a car insurance policy until you become 18 and considered an adult.

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