Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health insuran...

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Chris Harrigan has an economic degree from Limestone College and an MBA from Clemson University. He previously managed auto insurance claims for Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Currently, he is using his business and insurance expertise to provide insurance data analysis and visualizations to enhance the user experience.

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Reviewed by Chris Harrigan
Former Auto Insurance Claims Manager Chris Harrigan

UPDATED: Aug 9, 2021

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Key takeaways...

  • Many individuals believe that having the title to their car is a requirement before they can purchase insurance
  • However, many times you are not required to show your title to the insurance provider to receive coverage
  • Most insurance providers understand when it comes to car titles; they realize that not every driver will have access to it
  • If you have a lienholder or lessor on your car then you may not be able to access your title
  • To purchase coverage, you will normally need to show proof of financial interest in the car which means that a loss would cause you financial hardship

When you purchase or otherwise acquire a vehicle, one of your first steps should be to purchase insurance coverage on that car. In most cases you will want to do this before you even drive the vehicle home. Carrying auto insurance coverage is a compulsory requirement in most states, meaning you will be legally obligated to carry it.

If this is your first time purchasing coverage on your own, you may think that your car’s title is a requirement to obtain coverage.

Although having your title may provide additional information to the insurance provider, it is likely not a requirement for you to obtain coverage. Many people finance their new vehicles or sometimes get a title loan and insurance companies know that the loan company will hold the title until the money is paid back with interest.

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What is required to purchase car insurance?


Purchasing car insurance may have different requirements based on your location, but there are some general pieces of information that any insurance provider is going to ask for.

There are the basic pieces of information, such as the following:

  • Your name
  • Your address
  • Your vehicle’s basic information

These are details that the provider is going to ask about to give you a quote on your vehicle. They may also ask about your household:

  • If you rent or own your home
  • Anyone else that lives in your home that may operate the vehicle
  • Your history or driving record

Another bit of information they may ask for is what your interest in insuring the vehicle is.

If you do not have the title, then other pieces of information may need to be provided, including your vehicle registration or your bill of sale from the car’s purchase in order to obtain vehicle insurance coverage.

Proof of insurable interest is a necessity for insurance providers to help reduce the amount of fraudulent activity that occurs in the insurance industry.

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Where else could your title be if you don’t have it?

There are a couple of reasons why you may not hold your title when you go to purchase car insurance. One of those reasons is if you have a lienholder or a lessor.

A lienholder is a party that has a financial interest in your car, and would also have legal ownership of your vehicle if you defaulted on your loan payments.

Whenever you purchase a vehicle with a loan, you will often have a lienholder listed on your title and your insurance coverage to show the insurable interest this other party has in the vehicle and in making sure it is properly insured.

Along similar lines, your title may be held by a party that is holding the lease on your vehicle. This party normally retains ownership of the vehicle and has an insurable interest in obtaining car insurance coverage.

In these situations, you will often have to provide proof of your lease to the insurance provider while purchasing coverage that meets or exceeds the requirements of the lessor.

Are there unique circumstances to be informed about?


Most vehicles will encounter little to no resistance when it comes to insurance coverage. However, there is one type of vehicle title that can lead to problems finding a car insurance policy: a branded title.

Branded titles usually mean that your car has been salvaged or rebuilt before being sold to you, which can make potential insurance providers leery of providing coverage. A car that has been through enough damage to be issued a branded title pose a considerable risk in the eyes of auto insurers.

In fact, in some situations, an insurance carrier may be unwilling to provide you with coverage if your vehicle falls under this title type. Other insurance providers may be willing to provide you with specific coverage options, like liability, or they may not restrict your options at all. If you are already a customer with a specific insurance company and do not want to change providers, be sure to ask them if they will be able to provide you the coverage you want for a vehicle with a branded title before you consider the purchase.

It’s important to check with the party selling you the vehicle about the title and if it was a branded title. This may affect your coverage options in the future.

What’s the conclusion?

When you choose to get a car for yourself, whether it is brand new, used, or otherwise obtained, car insurance coverage is normally a requirement. Whether you have your title or not, you can still obtain car insurance coverage in most circumstances with a valid registration and loan documentation.

If your insurance carrier requires further validation, you may be required to show how a loss to this vehicle would affect you financially.

It’s important to look at multiple providers when you shop around for insurance coverage; different providers offer different benefits and each may have different requirements or stipulations.

If you find that one provider is not giving you the best choices to meet your needs, you may find that another company you speak with is more than able to meet your coverage requirements. When you contact them, be sure to ask what documentation they will require to insure your vehicle.

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