Do you need proof of insurance to test drive a vehicle at a dealership?

If you don't have your own auto insurance, that usually won't stop you from taking a spin in a vehicle you want to purchase from a dealer. All dealerships are legally required to insure the inventory on their lot. Usually, this takes the form of a blanket policy that covers accidents and any damage to their cars that occur during test drives. This special coverage, known as garage liability insurance, is designed for commercial sellers, including new and used automotive dealers. It covers customers, as well as the dealer's employees.

However, if you do have car insurance, you can enjoy added peace of mind during your test drive. If there's an accident, and the dealer seeks to hold you responsible for damage to their vehicle, your insurance policy can help protect you if they attempt to recoup the repair costs from you or your insurer.

Do you need proof of insurance to test drive a vehicle owned by a private seller?

If you're interested in test driving a used car from a private seller, you're typically covered by the vehicle owner's auto insurance. That means the person selling the car handles the insurance during a test drive. Much like at a dealership, a prospective buyer doesn't need to provide proof of insurance before a test drive when doing business with a private party. However, it's wise to check that they carry auto insurance before you get behind the wheel. When test driving a car from a private seller, ask for a signed statement confirming you have permission to drive the car, that the vehicle you want to purchase is insured, and that you're not responsible for the deductible in the event of an accident.

Because auto insurance policies can differ, it's always a good idea to inquire about the specific coverage of the car you'll be driving. Ask whether the vehicle's owner carries:

  • Liability coverage: Liability coverage pays for injuries or property damage you cause during a test drive.
  • Collision coverage: Collision coverage repairs or fully replaces the vehicle if it's damaged in an accident during the test drive.

What's required to test drive a car?

Generally, you only need a valid driver's license to test drive a car. However, the requirements for test drives may vary between dealerships and states.

Do you need proof of insurance after the test drive?

While insurance isn't needed for you to take a test drive at a dealership or with a private seller, it's generally needed to buy the car if your state requires car insurance. Before taking ownership and driving the vehicle off a dealer's lot, you must show proof of insurance. A private seller may not ask for proof, but once the title is transferred over, the responsibility of insurance falls squarely on you as the vehicle's new owner.