How can a homeless person living in a car or van get auto insurance without having an address?

**** The information written here is not legal advice and the author of this blog is not your lawyer.  These posts merely contain ideas to help you plan and organize your legal research and identify potentially helpful sources of law. ****
 
State auto insurance laws do require you to carry some sort of coverage on your automobile and you generally do have to prove that you are eligible to be insured in that state by providing the insurance company with documentation of your living in and, if applicable, owning a vehicle in that state. In other words, insurance companies expect that the address you list on your policy application will match the address on your automobile registration and driver’s license, both of which require you to notify state authorities when you change addresses. Also, because the insurance company has legal status as your agent in matters connected with that policy it does need to know where and how to contact you.
 
To obtain a driver’s license you have to show that you truly are the person you claim to be. The federal REAL ID Act requires states to cross check other identification sources when issuing driver’s licenses. A summary of that federal law is available from the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty at http://www.nlchp.org/content/pubs/REAL_ID_Fact_Sheet_20083.pdf.  The Department of Homeland Security has the official rule at http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2008/08-140.htm.  Each state has the flexibility to design its drivers license identification law in ways that accommodate the homeless and long distance truck drivers and others who do not reside in a fixed location. Some states, for example, accept ID verification letters from homeless service providers. 
 
The most efficient way to find your state’s current identification rule is to contact the Department of Motor Vehicles. http://www.dmv-department-of-motor-vehicles.com/  though you might find it from the National Conference of State Legislatures’ list.  http://www.ncsl.org/default.aspx?tabid=13574  You should be able to use e-mail to contact your DMV and simply ask what documentation they want you to bring. If you can’t get satisfaction from the DMV, get in touch with your local homeless service provider and ask that agency to help you get an address exception to obtain a driver’s license. http://www.nationalhomeless.org/directories/index.html
 
If your state driver’s license ID law does not yet have a way for you to obtain a license (and, secondarily, insurance), you can contact your state legislature and petition to have the law amended. The National Conference of State Legislatures has lots of REAL ID material for state legislators to read http://www.ncsl.org/Default.aspx?TabID=756&tabs=951,72,110#110  because state lawmakers have been developing these new identification laws for a couple of years.
Related sources:
The Insurance Information Institute has several helpful fact sheets about state financial responsibility laws. http://www2.iii.org/individuals/autoinsurance  You can find an individual state’s auto insurance laws through its insurance commission. http://www.naic.org/state_web_map.htm
 
 
 

 

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10 Comments »

  1. Joe the homeless guy said

    Progressive Auto Insurance allows you to use a P.O. Box. Progressive is the only auto insurance company that will do this. I just signed up at a local California office. I do not have a house or a P.O. Box. I live in my car and have now for the past two years (since the banks robbed me). The reasoning I walked in to a local office was so that I did not have to give my social security number. Ca state law does not require you to divulge your social security number.

    • lynda said

      Hi Joe, I am divorced and living in SC (sometimes) and NC (sometimes). Homeless so to speak but my car is registered in my and my ex’s name until I pay off the loan. My ex deducts the car pymt from my alimony and deducts the insurance as well. Yet he won’t even provide me with an insurance card that I pay for. A true jerk. I have state farm coverage and they have been great but my husband is “friendly” with the agent in NC so I can’t get help there. He claims I am breaking the law by not registering my car in another state. I don’t know what to do
      good luck to you

      • How do you know that he is paying for the insurance if he hasn’t provided you with a copy of the card? If this insurance policy does exist, why is the card being mailed to him and not to you? In the property settlement of the divorce were you supposed to get the car and the alimony? If you were granted the car in the settlement, was it granted to you as part of the marital debt or as one of the marital assets? You need to be able to answer these questions in order to fully research your situation. In general, it is easy to get an extra copy of an insurance card. You should be able to do that via the company’s main website without having to go through a particular agent. http://www.statefarm.com/aboutus/contact-us/contact-us.asp

    • Bruce said

      Someone commented that they use progressive for auto insurance while living out of a car and they accept P.O. boxes. They do allow the P.O. box to send mail to but that is it. You need a resedential address where the car is garaged and have proof of it. I have a homeless service not shelter for my drivers license address. This address is not acceptable for auto insurance as I don’t live there or park the car there. Progressive wanted proof of address such as mortgage bill, rental reciept or other bills as proof. I don’t have any because I don’t live at any address, I live out of a small RV Camper.on the street or other areas that I can live at like Wal Marts. Progressive rejected my insurance renewal and said they cannot insure a homeless or transient person unless they have proof of address. Does anybody know of an auto insurance company that has exceptions for homeless or transient people that are not living at a fixed location? I would really like to know. I am wondering if the homeless service would be able to proove my address with them and if that would be suficient for insurance purposes, I kind of doubt it. I really haven’t foud direct answers on this blog about homeless people getting auto insurance. Maybe I need to look some more.

  2. Chris in San Jose said

    Thanks for that comment! I’m in CA and will check that out. Currently I use State Farm but I think they bend the rules a bit for me, as they knew me before I was homeless. Whether they’d normally insure a homeless person, I don’t know.

    Now I have to go and try to renew my driver license with the DMV … that should be fun :(

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  5. Ramona said

    This blog was… how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I’ve found something which helped me.
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  6. I am currently homeless live in my vehicle I just received as a gift . how can I get me penalties and registration fees waived?

    • Owning a car is not a legal right, it is a privilege. When you own a car, you are subject to legal obligations such as driving and parking in compliance with the law as well as registering and insuring the vehicle. You seem to presume that the legal system would have a mechanism by which those obligations could be waived, but that presumption does not match with the law.

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