This is a bit embarrassing, but I am turning 30 and am just now trying to get a driver's license for the first time. I own my own car, just bought it recently to learn to drive, but I don't have a license so I can't get insurance, and because I don't have insurance I can't drive it.

I have friends and family with licenses and car insurance, but all of their policies (I am told) only cover drivers with 3 years of driving experience, so even if they added my car to their policy I would still not be able to drive it.

Some facts about me:

  1. I am 29 years old.

  2. I live in the US in the state of California.

  3. I have never had a license before.

  4. I own the car, but I made sure a licensed and insured driver is a co-owner, assuming they would be able to add the car to their policy and list me as one of its drivers.

This feels like a big catch-22. What should I do?

  • 1
    Adding a country would probably help. For example, in the UK, you would need a Provisional license to learn to drive (except possibly at an off-road centre). If learning with a recognised driving instructor, they probably cover insurance (it's been years since I learnt); if learning privately, you would need a full licence holder in the car with you, but presumably the provisional licence would be enough to get added to their insurance or to get some in your own name (but probably very expensive).
    – TripeHound
    Commented Jun 20, 2020 at 9:45
  • @TripeHound You're right, I have added some facts about me to my question. I live in California. What you describe for the UK is almost exactly how it works in the US as well. My big problem seems to be that my licensed family's and friends' policies seem to have an experience limit of 3 years or more to be allowed on the policy, which I don't have and can't get without first having insurance to be allowed to learn to drive. Commented Jun 20, 2020 at 10:27
  • Thanks for the update. I don't know Californian law, and I don't really know the UK situation (I passed my test at a similar age as you, but have only occasionally driven hire cars under their insurance). My suspicion is that the 3-year rule applies to "general driving" (to the shops, on holiday etc.) for someone who has passed their test. It seems at least plausible (since a learner could never learn without one) that there may be a clause that covers a learner-driver while under supervision of full license holder. But I don't know that...
    – TripeHound
    Commented Jun 20, 2020 at 10:37
  • 4
    Should be able to get insurance with an instruction permit: dmv.ca.gov/portal/driver-licenses-identification-cards/…. If you're just trying to get insurance from a website, try an independent insurance agent and see if they can find you a proper product, it certainly exists for cases such as yours.
    – Hart CO
    Commented Jun 20, 2020 at 16:01
  • I think you may not be understanding the requirements, While I'm not sure about California currently, as I haven't registered a car there in decades, in most of the US, insurance applies to the car, not the driver. Where I live (and everywhere I have in the past), rather than having one policy that covers me, I have insurance for each vehicle I own, which the policy lists - and charges for - separately. It's also quite common for businesses to own & insure vehicles, and they don't have driver's licenses :-)
    – jamesqf
    Commented Jun 20, 2020 at 16:35

3 Answers 3


The normal way of dealing with this situation is to get driving lessons with an instructor. Instructors have their own cars and are insured for their students to drive them.

This sounds expensive, but it's almost certainly less expensive than owning and insuring a car. I've seen adverts for California driving courses that say they will get you your license for $400. Any insurance you get will be much more expensive than that. And you will learn faster with an instructor. You will need a learners permit of course.

Of course getting insurance as a new driver is also going to be expensive, but much less so than insurance for an unlicensed driver. If you were able to go back in time then you didn't need to buy the car also.


Ask an insurance agent. They must deal with this exact situation many times every year, and can probably give you a checklist.

Or ask the department of motor vehicles; ditto.

"If it's happening, it must be possible."


Once you get the license you will be able to drive it...if the co-signer can go with you to get your license that would be great but even if they can't you will be fine

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