Can the Homeless Get Car Insurance?
Last Updated on October 19, 2020
You don’t have a home – but you still need car insurance. For various reasons, people without a fixed address may require car insurance.
Typically, you need an address to get car insurance. However, if you don’t have an address, then it could be possible to get car insurance – depending on insurer requirements and your situation.
Can a homeless person get car insurance? Or is car insurance only for people with a fixed address? Keep reading to discover everything you need to know about if the homeless can get car insurance.
Obtaining Car Insurance Without an Address
Obtaining car insurance without an address can be tricky. Typically, insurers need a listed address for various reasons.
Insurers need an address to verify certain information. Primarily, insurers need an address to calculate risk. Certain ZIP codes are riskier than others. Some ZIP codes have higher accident rates. Some have higher crime rates. Based on your ZIP code, you may pay more or less for car insurance than someone in a different ZIP code.
Without a fixed address, insurers cannot calculate risk. They can analyze your risk as an individual driver. They can look at your driving history, for example. However, they cannot calculate location-specific factors because you don’t have a fixed address.
How Your ZIP Code Impacts Car Insurance
Insurers calculate car insurance premiums based on each policyholder’s risk. They assess risk by checking your driving history. They also look at other factors – including your ZIP code.
Why do some ZIP codes pay higher rates for car insurance than others? Here are some of the location-specific factors that impact insurance rates:
- Number of traffic incidents
- Vehicle theft and break-in rates
To calculate this risk, insurers check your fixed address. If you are homeless, you don’t have a fixed address, which could make it impossible for insurers to calculate rates and determine how much you’ll pay.
How to Get Car Insurance Without an Address
It’s possible to get car insurance without an address. In fact, many drivers need to get car insurance without an address – even if they’re not homeless.
Maybe you’re between homes. Maybe you’ve moved out of one apartment and you’re waiting to move into a new apartment. You’ve signed a lease and are ready to move in – although you technically have no fixed address in the interim.
In this situation, you can still obtain car insurance without issue. You can use your new address as your listed address Even if you have not yet moved in, your insurer should allow you to use your new address.
Alternatively, you could use the address of a friend. If you are temporarily living with a friend while looking for a place to live, for example, then you could use your friend’s address to apply for car insurance. You’re parking your car at this address every night, so your insurer considers it to be your fixed address. Once you have found a permanent home, you can update this address.
The Problem with Car Insurance for Homeless People
Insurers have two main problems with providing car insurance to homeless people. Both of these factors relate to risk. Insurers like to calculate premiums based on risk.
When insurers cannot calculate risk, they cannot calculate premiums. Many insurers will err on the side of caution: they’ll deny your request for insurance or charge excessive premiums.
The two problems with providing car insurance to homeless people include:
Inability to Calculate Location Risk: ZIP code plays a significant role in insurance premiums. If you are homeless and have no fixed address, then the insurer cannot calculate your location-based risk.
Risk of Living in your Vehicle: From an insurer’s standpoint, a client living in their vehicle is a risky client to insure. You’re spending more time in your car. It could increase liability risk. You could be parking your car in unsafe locations. Insurers cover policyholders when driving – insurers don’t want to cover policyholders when they’re driving, sleeping, and otherwise living in their vehicle.
Insurers Could Deny your Claim for an Incorrect Address
If you are homeless, you may be tempted to provide a friend’s address (or an old address) to your insurer. However, if an insurer discovers you are using the wrong address, then your insurer could deny your claim.
Let’s say you provide your friend’s address to your insurance company. In reality, you park your car in a parking lot every night. You get into an accident and make an insurance claim. Your insurer discovers you haven’t parked your car at your fixed address in weeks. Your insurer denies your claim because you have provided incorrect address information, making it impossible to accurately calculate risk.
FAQs About Car Insurance for Homeless People
Car insurance for homeless people can be tricky. Some FAQs we get about car insurance for the homeless include:
Q: Is it discriminatory to prevent homeless people from getting car insurance?
A: Some argue it’s discriminatory to prevent homeless people from getting car insurance. A homeless person who wants to work and drive legally, for example, may need car insurance – but struggle to find affordable premiums. Unfortunately, insurance companies base their business on risk, and they need accurate address information to calculate risk.
Q: Can I get car insurance using a hotel address?
A: Insurance companies generally check address information before assigning a policy. If you are temporarily living in a hotel (say, if you’re between homes), and an insurer discovers this, then the insurer could deem you a ‘transient risk’ and deny your policy.
Q: Why am I a transient risk?
A: Insurers could declare you to be a transient risk if you have not provided a valid fixed address. If you are living in a hotel temporarily, for example, then you might be deemed a transient risk. Some insurers give exceptions if you are moving into your house within 30 days. Other insurers deem you a transient risk as long as you do not have a lease or rental agreement.
Q: I’m moving to a new state or city and don’t yet have an address; how do I get car insurance?
A: Many states offer a grace period for registration. Your old insurance and registration should cover you temporarily during the move. Once you’re settled, you can get new registration and adjust car insurance to your new address.
Final Word – Auto Insurance for the Homeless
Generally, you cannot obtain car insurance if you are homeless. You could provide a future address (say, if you just signed a lease on a new home). You could also provide a friend’s address (say, if you are temporarily living at a friend’s address while between homes). However, if you have no fixed address, then it’s unlikely you will be able to obtain car insurance.
Lying to your insurance company about your fixed address could lead to claim denial. To qualify for car insurance, you need to provide your insurer with the address where you park your car most nights of the week, which could be tricky if you are homeless and looking for car insurance.