In New York state, you don't need a license to buy or register a car but getting insurance without a license (regardless of what state you live in) can be difficult. However, is certainly not impossible. Here are the answers to your most pressing questions about how New York car insurance laws relate to buying and insuring a vehicle without a license in NY.

Can I buy a car without a license in NY?

Absolutely, although you will not be able to test drive it or drive it off the lot once you have made the purchase. There is no law on the books that says you must have a valid driver's license to buy a car. However, you will need some form of government-issued ID to complete the transaction and to title or register the car.

There are a number of reasons a person may want to purchase a vehicle when they don't have a license. Here are just a few:

  • You are disabled and need a car for a caregiver to drive.
  • You own a business and need a vehicle for licensed employees to drive
  • You have an underage child or who has a license but can't legally finance a vehicle
  • You have a driver that will be driving you around

Do you need a New York license to register a car in New York?

The quick answer is no. According to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles you are not required to have a driver license or learner permit to apply for a vehicle registration or title certificate in state of New York. These requirements also apply to the registration of a boat, a snowmobile, or an ATV.

Can you register a car with a suspended license in NY?

Yes, but you will not be able to drive it. In New York, a license or permit is not required to buy or register a car as long as you have a valid government ID. Just because you can register a car doesn't mean you can drive it. Getting caught driving on a suspended license is a major offense and will result in sky high insurance premiums as well as possible jail time and a longer license suspension.

Can you register a car online in NY?

Unfortunately, the answer to this question is no. However, if you buy the car from an auto dealer, they can usually handle this task for you. Private party transactions will involve a trip to the DMV office. This is a direct quote from the New York DMV website:

"You must come to a DMV office. You or your business must register and title at a DMV office any vehicle you own or lease. You cannot register or title a vehicle online. When you purchase a new vehicle through an auto dealership, the auto dealer can register and title the vehicle, and issue plates (and charge a fee for this)."

Can you register a car with a permit?

Yes, you can register a car with just a driver permit, in fact you do not have to have a license or permit to simply register a car, insuring it could be more complicated without a license or permit though.

Do you have to have a valid driver's license in order to get car insurance in New York state?

We have already established that without a valid license you can buy, register and title a car in your name. However, getting insurance will be a bit more difficult.

Insurance companies see nothing but risk in an unlicensed driver which means you may have to exclude yourself from the policy as well as supply personal information on the person who will actually be driving the car.

Here are just a couple of the more common reasons you may need car insurance coverage even if you don't have a vehicle:

  • Underage driver in the house: The majority of insurance companies will not let a driver under 18 purchase insurance coverage on their own because they cannot legally enter into a contract. This means that if you have a teen child in the house who drives you still need insurance coverage regardless of whether you drive or not.
  • Personal driver or caregiver: If you have lost your license, it is suspended or can no longer drive due to health reasons you may need a personal driver and if they are driving your car, you will need that car to have insurance.

While it can be more difficult, it is absolutely possible to buy a policy without a valid license, but you may have to be an excluded driver.

Instead of using your own driver's license on the application for a policy you may be allowed to apply for a policy using the name and license number of the primary driver of your car. This way you are listed on the policy for a car you own but you will not technically a driver on the policy.

A primary driver on an insurance policy can be anyone that is licensed and will be driving your vehicle on a regular basis. It can be a teen driver, a spouse, even a roommate or caretaker. However, the premium will be based on the primary driver's record so choose someone with a decent driving record to help keep your premiums affordable.

In addition, you may need to list yourself as an excluded driver on the policy. This means that if you end up behind the wheel of your car (or any car for that matter) you will have zero coverage. You will be solely responsible for the cost of any damage you do to your car as well as other people and their vehicles if you drive a car as an excluded driver.

Not all insurers are willing to exclude the owner from their own policy so you may need to shop around for the right coverage. There are insurance companies, such as Esurance, that allow another person to insure your car, even if they don't have an insurable interest in the vehicle.

The best advice is to call a number of insurance companies, explain your particular situation and see what they are able to do for you in regard to putting an insurance policy in place without a driver's license.

What are the minimum insurance requirements in New York?

Every state has minimum car insurance requirements to be legal out on the road. The following is what New York requires according to its DMV website :

New York law requires that you have auto liability insurance coverage. The minimum amount of liability coverage is:

  • $10,000 for property damage for a single accident
  • $25,000 for bodily injury and $50,000 for death for a person involved in an accident
  • $50,000 for bodily injury and $100,000 for death for two or more people in an accident

Your liability insurance coverage must

  • Remain in effect while the registration is valid, even if you don't use the vehicle
  • Be New York State insurance coverage, issued by a company licensed by the NY State Department of Financial Services and certified by NY State DMV - out-of-state insurance is never acceptable
  • Be issued in the name of the vehicle registrant, and remain in the name of the registrant at all times