Does the name on car registration and insurance have to match?

The name on your car registration and car insurance should match. If these documents have different names attached to them, it can make the car insurance claims process a lot more complicated. You can, however, buy non-owner car insurance for a vehicle that isn't yours.

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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: May 21, 2022

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Here's what you need to know...

  • Having one name on your car’s insurance and a different one on its registration can lead to issues with filing a claim
  • If needed, the vehicle owner can add a driver to their insurance policy
  • When someone’s name changes due to marriage or divorce, the driver usually must update their registration within a limited period

As a car owner, it’s important to be knowledgeable about the ins and outs of your insurance policy. A perfect example of this is the following question: Does your car insurance and registration have to be under the same name?

In most cases, your insurance and registration need to match, but there are a few exceptions. Read on to explore this question further.

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Does the name on your car registration and insurance policy have to match?

In general, the answer to the question is a resounding “yes.” While New York is the only state that explicitly requires that the name on the car’s insurance policy and the registration match, virtually all insurance companies need them to match, regardless of where you call home. Although it may not technically be against the law to have different names on these important documents, that doesn’t mean it won’t cause problems for you.

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Why Using Different Names Can Be an Issue

Having one name on the car’s insurance and another on the registration can lead to headaches and hassles. For example, using different names for registration and insurance can confuse your insurance company and make the car insurance claims process a lot more complicated.  

Remember, car insurance companies conduct thorough investigations when someone is in an accident. If your insurer finds that the insured driver is not the same as the person on the registration, it may delay the payment while everything is sorted out. So while your car insurance company may still pay for a claim in certain instances, it’s best never to assume that your insurer will automatically do this. 

In addition, you must update your registration and car insurance with a name change, such as if you get married or divorced. You should bring the appropriate documents to your state’s department of motor vehicles or similar agency to update your registration, then do the same with your insurer. States typically require that people update their registration within a set number of days. In Arizona, for instance, you have 10 days to complete this task.

Can I insure a vehicle that’s not registered in my name?

There are some situations where you may want to insure a vehicle that is not registered to you. If you often borrow your friend’s car to drive to work, you may need insurance to cover these situations.

In scenarios like this, although you cannot insure the vehicle on your own, you should be listed as a driver on the owner’s insurance policy. If you are involved in an accident in the borrowed car, the owner’s insurance policy will cover you during the claims process.

Another Option: Non-Owner Car Insurance

Another way to insure a car that’s not registered in your name is non-owner car insurance. These policies offer protection when someone is driving another person’s vehicle by providing liability coverage in an accident that causes personal injury or property damage that is not covered under the existing liability insurance policy. This type of coverage is ideal if you regularly drive someone else’s car, such as a chauffeur or nanny.

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When It Comes to Insurance and Registration, Knowledge Is Power

While it’s technically possible for the names on your car registration and insurance to be different, it’s not a wise move and can cause you plenty of headaches. When you need to include non-owners on your insurance, do it correctly so you don’t have any issues filing a claim or getting registered. If you have questions about your insurance coverage requirements, contact your agent to ensure you have everything set up correctly.

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