Auto Insurance for Homeless

People experiencing homelessness can get car insurance, though the process is not as straightforward. Insurance companies require an address, but you may be able to use a temporary address or P.O. Box. Learn about your options.

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Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

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Written by Rachel Bodine
Feature Writer Rachel Bodine

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 (BBB A+). 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 and Safeco. He reviews content, ensuring that ex...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent Daniel Walker

UPDATED: Jun 10, 2022

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Things to remember...

  • Obtaining car insurance without a permanent address is difficult but not impossible
  • There are a few strategies you can try to get car insurance if you are currently homeless
  • Insurance companies have several good reasons for requiring a permanent address, including risk assessment

You can get a driver’s license without a physical address, but what about insurance? Can you get car insurance without a permanent address? The answer depends on your exact situation and insurance companies’ policies.

However, note that most insurers require you to provide a temporary address, and most will deny coverage if you live out of your vehicle.

Registering a Vehicle Without a Permanent Address

Regardless of your housing situation, if you own a vehicle, you must register it in the state in which you plan to predominantly store it. If you do not register it, you cannot legally drive it on public roadways or park it in public parking spaces.

To register a vehicle and obtain a title, you must complete the entire registration application, which includes a field for an address. Every DMV across the country requires vehicle owners to provide an address, as they need a place to mail registration, parking tickets, and other documents.

If you are experiencing homelessness or between residences, filling out the application in its entirety may prove difficult. However, it is not impossible. Depending on state laws, you may be able to use a P.O. box for your mailing address, but you won’t be able to use it as your residence. Now, if your state’s laws prohibit this, you may be able to ask a friend or family member if you can use his or her address.

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Getting Car Insurance Without a Permanent Address

Once you register a vehicle in a state, you must abide by the state’s car insurance requirements. This is the case regardless of your residency. If you violate a state’s car insurance requirements, an officer may cite you and possibly impound your vehicle. To prevent either of these outcomes and to avoid other costly consequences, it is crucial that you figure out how to insure your vehicle regardless of your living situation.

Using a Temporary Address

The best and most efficient way to get car insurance without a permanent address is to ask a friend or family member if you can use his or her address while you are between residences. Explain that you need an address to which the insurer can mail important documents, such as proof of insurance, invoices, and the like.

Ideally, the address you use will be one you stay at regularly or one at which you were living when you first registered your vehicle. When you do get your own place, update your address with both the DMV and insurer right away.

Some people consider listing a hotel address as their place of residence. Experts advise against doing this. A hotel address indicates to insurers that your residency is temporary. Insurers do not like temporary residents, and you will likely be denied coverage as a result.

Using a P.O. Box

In some states, it is possible to register a vehicle with a P.O. box. However, no insurer will insure an applicant who only provides a P.O. Box as an address. While you can use a P.O. box as an acceptable mailing address, insurers want to see that you have a physical address as well.

The Importance of a Physical Address

From a consumer’s perspective, insurers’ permanent address requirements may seem discriminatory. However, there are several reasons why car insurance companies check your address.

For one, insurers use applicants’ permanent addresses to assess risk. They pull up information regarding listed ZIP codes to determine the cost of coverage — or even if they want to insure certain drivers at all. Companies look at local:

  • Accident data
  • Vandalism statistics
  • Weather hazards

Insurers also consider where and how applicants park their vehicles at night. Does a driver park on a public street, where it is constantly subject to the whims of other drivers, or a private garage, where it is safe from hazards at least eight out of the 24 hours in a day?

Insurers also use residency as a means of determining applicants’ individual levels of risk. People experiencing homelessness typically demonstrate less desirable risk factors than people with permanent residences, such as a higher prevalence of mental disorders, higher rates of substance abuse, and more involvement in offending behavior. Though persons with homes can also exhibit these risk factors, they are common in those experiencing homelessness.

Getting Coverage When You Live Out of Your Vehicle  

Say you live in your vehicle — can you get car insurance then? Unfortunately, if you state on your insurance application that you live out of your car, your chances of receiving a denial are almost 100%. In the eyes of auto insurers, people who live in their cars pose considerably more risk than those who live in actual homes. Moreover, the risk of damage goes up the more a person uses a car for his or her “home.” This is because the vehicles of people experiencing homelessness are more likely to be parked in risky locations and become subjects of vandalism, sustaining considerable damage.

That said, even if you face several hurdles on your path to obtaining car insurance, you must prevail. You are a vehicle owner regardless of your housing situation and, as such, must comply with state auto insurance laws.

You can always list a friend or family member’s address on your car insurance application if such action is legal in your state. If you plan to do so, try to always park your vehicle at this location when you are not using it. If you do not, and if the insurer discovers that you do not live at the listed address, it may deny or drop your coverage. If you file a claim, the company may deny your claim on the basis of a fraudulent application.

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Obtaining Car Insurance While Homeless or Between Residences

Whether you are between residences, chose the nomadic lifestyle, or found yourself without a permanent residence due to life circumstances, you still need auto insurance if you own a vehicle. Though your journey to obtaining coverage may be more complicated than if you had a permanent physical address, obtaining coverage is possible. You just have to get creative when filling out your application.

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