Can you insure a car you do not own?

Before getting behind the wheel you need to have car insurance - this is a legal requirement.

However, if you're not the registered keeper of the car you want to drive you need to be extra careful; this is particularly the case if you want the car insurance policy to be in your name.

Not all car insurance companies will insure you as the 'main driver' on a car insurance policy if you don't officially own the car.

Worse still, if you aren't up front about the vehicle's ownership and your insurer finds out they are likely to cancel your policy - something that could leave you high and dry if you did need to make a claim.

Insurers take ownership of a vehicle as the person named as the 'registered keeper' on the DVLA's records. They also assume that the person insured as the 'main driver' on a policy will use the car most of the time - this is something you need to bear in mind when you're shopping around for car insurance.

Here's how to make sure you don't get caught out.

What is the problem?

The main reason some insurers refuse to cover anyone but the registered keeper as the 'main driver' on a car insurance policy is because of the increased risk that they'll need to pay out.

They assume that as a driver without a financial interest in the car you're likely to take less care on the road and be more likely to make a claim.

Insurers will often take an individual approach rather than applying a blanket policy, and if you're in a 'high risk' group anyway (you're a young driver, have had previous convictions or drive a performance car for example) then you may find it harder to get insurance in your name.

Will you be able to get cover?

Ultimately this will depend on your situation, if insurers can see that you have a vested interest in the car they may be more likely to offer the cover you're looking for.

Similarly, if you list the car's registered keeper as a 'named driver' then they may look on your application more favourably too.

However, whether they choose to offer cover or not will be at the discretion of each individual insurance provider.

Ways to insure yourself

There are three solutions you can look at: search for insurance with a company that will cover you, become the car's registered keeper, or insure the car in the registered keeper's name and drive as a named driver.

The last of these options should only be used if you genuinely share usage of the car with the person that is registered as the keeper; if you don't this is called "fronting" and could land you in some serious hot water further down the line.

If you're going to be the main driver of the car then you will need to find insurance in your name and make it clear from the outset that you're not the registered keeper.

How to find the best policy

Even though you might find you have a more limited choice if you're not the registered keeper, it is still vital to hunt for the best car insurance policy possible.

You should go about finding cover in exactly the same way as you would if you were the car's main driver with one exception: you need to make it clear that you are not the registered keeper of the vehicle when you get a quote.

Most insurers will ask you this specifically during the quote process so you simply need to be honest.

However, many automated insurance quote comparison sites will assume you are the registered keeper of the car, so caution is needed. For this reason it's better to get quotes with car insurers directly - this way you can be confident you'll be covered.

You can find a full list of car insurers to get quotes from in our car insurance comparison table.