Test Drive Car Insurance—What You Need to Know

Whether you're buying from a dealership or a private seller, you typically don't need to show proof of insurance on a test drive.
Written by Jacqulyn Graber
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
Whether you're buying from a dealership or a private seller, you typically don't need to show
proof of insurance
on a test drive. The insurance held by dealerships and private sellers will usually cover unexpected damage or physical injuries that occur during a test drive if they’re caused by other vehicles on the road. 
In general, all drivers need to hold an adequate
car insurance
policy that meets their
state’s minimum liability requirements
before hitting the road. 
In this article, we’ll go over the auto insurance coverage requirements for test driving a vehicle at car dealerships or private sellers, as well as some important safety tips to follow whenever completing a test drive. 

Do you need car insurance for a test drive?

Generally speaking, no. Prospective buyers are not legally required to show proof that they hold a valid auto insurance policy to car dealers or other parties when they test drive vehicles. 
However, keep in mind that it's a good idea to have your own insurance regardless of where you buy from, as you can still be held responsible for property damage or injuries you cause during the test drive. If you’re uninsured, you’ll have to pay for these damages out of pocket, but if you have a valid policy with adequate coverage, your insurance covers said damage. 
Having at least liability coverage when you test drive a car can offer you extra peace of mind.
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Do you need proof of insurance to test drive a dealership car?

No—the dealership’s insurance will usually cover unexpected damage or physical injuries that occur during test drives if their vehicle is in an accident. 
All dealers are legally required to insure all of the cars on their lot. This includes new cars and used cars and generally takes the form of a blanket policy that covers accidents and any damage that occurs to test-driven cars. 
Dealer’s insurance is known as garage liability insurance and is designed specifically for commercial sellers. 
Keep in mind that the salesperson may require you to sign a waiver before you take off on your test drive. This waiver would make you liable for any at-fault accidents that occur during the test drive, which poses a considerable risk to drivers without insurance. 
If you do have your own insurance policy, it can offer some added peace of mind when test driving new vehicles. Before starting your car shopping process, contact your insurance provider and ask an insurance agent if your policy covers test drives. 

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

The answer here is also no—you’ll typically be covered by the vehicle owner’s auto insurance when you test drive the car they're selling.
With that being said, it’s wise to make sure that the private seller carries auto insurance before you get behind the wheel.  Ask the seller to provide a signed statement confirming that you have permission to drive the car, that the vehicle is actively insured, and that you won’t be held responsible for the deductible in the event of an accident.
It’s also important to remember that auto insurance policies can differ greatly. Ask specifically whether the owner carries
liability coverage
, which will cover any injuries or property damage you cause during a test drive, and
collision coverage
, which will cover repairs to the car if it's damaged in an accident during the test drive. 

What do you need to bring for a vehicle test drive?

Well, the requirements will vary from state to state, and even dealership to dealership, but you’ll always be required to show a valid driver’s license before taking a car for a spin. 
Most dealerships also require all test drivers to be at least 18 years old, which means you’ll likely need to bring a parent or guardian to test drive the vehicle if you’re 16 and just got your license. 
The dealership may also ask you to sign a waiver before getting started. Be sure to carefully read the terms before signing. 
Finally, if you’re shopping for a high-end luxury vehicle or supercar, you may be required to undergo a credit check or even be preapproved for a car loan before your test drive. This is basically to ensure that drivers who cannot afford these high-priced vehicles (which can cost well over $100,000) are not wasting the salespeople’s time with joy rides. 
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If you get into an accident while test-driving a car, the vehicle’s current owner (whether a dealership or private party) will make a claim through their own car insurance policy. 
If you are personally at fault for the accident, you may be required to cover some of the damages—especially if you signed a waiver with the dealership—which you would pay out of pocket or by making a claim through your own insurance provider.
No—a valid driver’s license is the one universal requirement for test driving vehicles, regardless of which state you live in.
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