Can a person get insurance on a vehicle they don’t own?

My ex-boyfriend refuses to return my car to my custody. He didn’t return it when he was supposed to and there had been a prior verbal agreement for me to sell him the car for $500 of which he paid $50. The police informed me that they have no authority to force him to return the car because I had allowed him to drive it. In essence it is a civil matter not a criminal matter. The title of the car is in my name the registration is in my name and the insurance is in my name. He refuses to pay me the balance or even contact me to do the title transfer. If I drop the insurance will that render the registration invalid? What is my liability?

Asked on November 10, 2011 under Insurance Law, Pennsylvania


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Since the title is in your name and you are the registered owner, if you drop the insurance, you will still be liable if your ex-boyfriend is in an accident where he is at fault.  Without insurance, you and your ex-boyfriend could be sued if he is at fault in an accident.  Some states might not renew the annual vehicle registration without proof of insurance, but since you would still be the registered owner, you would still be liable in the event of an accident where your ex-boyfriend is at fault.

You can sue him in Small Claims Court for the remaining $450 he owes you for the car, but it may be difficult to prove since it was a verbal agreement and without something in writing, it will just be your word against his that you are owed that sum.  If you do sue in Small Claims Court, in addition to the amount you are owed, you can recover court costs which would be the court filing fee and process server fee.

A person can get insurance on a vehicle he/she does not own.  For example, if you inherited someone's car, but never got the title transferred to your name, you could still take out insurance on the car even though the previous owner would still be listed as the registered owner.

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