How does a lienholder affect car insurance rates?

Lienholders finance your car when you need a loan for the purchase. Below we'll cover a few questions you may have about the process.

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UPDATED: May 22, 2022

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Written By: Laura BerryReviewed By: Joel OhmanUPDATED: May 22, 2022Fact Checked

Here’s what you need to know

  • Most lienholders will require full coverage under the terms of your loan
  • Rates for full coverage vary by state, but the national average is $971.41/year
  • You’ll need to add the lienholder information to your policy

If you have a lien on your vehicle, you may have wondered, “How does a lienholder affect car insurance rates?”

Lienholders have a stake in your car if they are financing the vehicle. They want to protect their investment, even if you do not. Lienholder insurance requirements will likely include full coverage car insurance. What is included in a full coverage car insurance policy may vary depending on where you live and who you ask.

Since different states have different laws, there is no one-size-fits-all version of full coverage. Carriers have to be licensed in all of the states they serve, so they are regulated and held accountable to the laws of each state.

Read this article to learn more about lienholder car insurance requirements, common aspects of insurance with a lienholder in place, how this can affect your rates, and more related insurance questions.

Ready to buy lienholder car insurance? To compare auto insurance quotes for full coverage so you can meet your lienholder’s requirements, enter your ZIP code into our free tool.

Which lienholder auto insurance company is for you? Find out now.

What does ‘lienholder’ mean?

What is a lienholder? Are insurance requirements with a lien on your vehicle different than for vehicles that are paid off? What happens when you have a lien on your car? What other factors might affect your car insurance rates?

Read through the next sections to learn the answers to these and other questions related to lienholder insurance requirements.

Who is the lienholder on a financed car? A car insurance lienholder is a person or entity that finances your car. What is a lienholder on an insurance policy? If you see a lienholder listed on your insurance, that means someone is financing your vehicle. Your lienholder must be listed on the insurance.

You may be wondering how to add a lienholder to your policy. What you first must do is get your lienholder’s account number, mailing address, phone number, and fax number, if applicable.

Then, you contact your insurer and inform them that you plan to add a lienholder to your plan. You should also inform your insurer as to what your lienholder’s insurance requirements are. This may result in your car insurance being altered to add coverage in order to meet the requirements.

From there, the insurance will give the lienholder written acknowledgment that the requirement can be satisfied. You should ask for a copy of this written acknowledgment for your records.

Finally, be in contact with your lienholder to make sure the paperwork has been filed and the process can be completed smoothly. Some insurance companies have a resource center designed to help you navigate these sorts of issues.

With a lien, you might have to buy collision and comprehensive coverage for your car, which could add an average of $466 a year to your rates.

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What else is there to know about a lienholder?

  • Car insurance lienholder is a term used when financing a car through a bank or other similar institution
  • Having an auto insurance lien means that drivers are forced to purchase additional insurance if the bank requires it
  • Paying cash is the best way to avoid having to deal with the hassle of a car insurance lienholder

If you’ve ever purchased a brand new car directly from a dealer, you may be familiar with what’s known as an auto insurance lienholder, especially if you financed the car through a bank or other financial institution.

When you purchase a new or used car through a financing arrangement, it’s important to look not only at the bottom-line price but also at the hidden costs involved.

One of those hidden costs could be in the type of insurance the financing company requires you to carry.

Does a lien affect auto insurance?

Maybe. The higher cost of comprehensive and collision insurance that the lienholder may require may cost as much as an additional $466 a year, which could price you out of the vehicle you really want and into a less desirable one.

If you’re not familiar with the term, read on to learn all you need to know about the subject, including more detail on insurance requirements for financed vehicles.

What type of insurance do lienholders require?

When consumers go to buy a car and use a finance company to pay the seller, a binding contract is formed.

Not only do these consumers have to pay back these loans with interest, but they also promise to purchase enough insurance to pay the financier in case the vehicle is significantly damaged or completely totaled.

In order to do this, collision and comprehensive car coverage must be secured.

Most car loan finance companies do not allow their customers to buy liability-only car insurance coverage. Not only would this put the person responsible for paying the auto loan at financial risk, but it could cause the vehicle itself to become a liability.

Liability car insurance coverage does not pay out for car repairs on the covered vehicle, only on damage to other vehicles involved in the incident.

In the event that the car is repossessed, the lienholder would suffer a financial loss because the vehicle would no longer be as valuable as it was when purchased.

One way to make sure you’re purchasing auto insurance coverage from a reputable company is to look at customer ratings. J.D. Power maintains a list of the highest-rated car insurance companies in the U.S. with the highest market shares.

You might find an auto insurance provider with lower rates that are not listed by J.D. Power, but it’s in your best interest to find out more about its reputation before purchasing a plan.

There are some car insurance companies that unjustly make it difficult for consumers to have their claims approved.

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Is the lienholder notified if I drop my collision and comprehensive car insurance?

Do insurance companies report to lienholders? Technically no, so some people may be thinking, “Hey, I could purchase collision and comprehensive coverage to satisfy the condition, and drop it with my policy renewal.”

This may be possible for a short while, but once your lender receives notification from the DMV that you are only carrying liability, they may have the right to accelerate your loan or repossess your vehicle.

Can lienholders take out an auto insurance policy on your vehicle?

In the event that you fail to buy a sufficient amount of car insurance, lienholders can and often do take out their own car insurance policies, referred to as force-placed insurance.

Not only will you be responsible for paying back the premiums on these policies, but you might also be subject to additional interest charges.

Your car loan payments would probably not go up if you didn’t buy the required amount of insurance, but the length of your loan would likely be extended.

If you do not make payments to your car loan finance company for the additional force-placed auto insurance plan, your vehicle could be repossessed, which would heavily damage your credit.

In some cases, lienholders will take out their own car insurance policies simply to protect their financial interests.

These types of auto insurance policies do not always require repayment, but you would also not receive any payment if an insurance claim was filed. Lienholders also financially benefit first when a car is sold.

Why would the lienholder be listed on your car insurance policy?

Banks and other financial institutions file liens on financed cars in order to protect their investment. These liens cover not only the vehicle title records but also the insurance carried by the car buyer.

In simplest terms, when you finance the purchase of a car, you don’t really own that vehicle until it is completely paid for.

Prior to that, the financing company owns the car. The lien is placed on the certificate of title and insurance plan so that if the car suffers a total loss, the financing company can recover its money.

How do I list a lienholder on insurance? All you have to do is call your provider and let them know you need to identify your lienholder on your insurance. This is often referred to as adding a lienholder to your root insurance. For example, if you’re insured by Progressive, add the lienholder on their site or over the phone with a Progressive agent.

With this knowledge, it’s easy to understand why a lien is placed on the title certificate. But the insurance lien is a bit more complicated. This type of lien is filed as a means of forcing car buyers to purchase comprehensive insurance at a level great enough to protect the bank’s investment.

Car buyers will usually find written somewhere in the agreement that a failure to provide such insurance will enable the financing company to force a plan of its own choosing on the car buyer, as we noted earlier (and we’ll discuss in more detail next).

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What’s the difference between carrying my own insurance and the bank’s forced insurance?

It’s not uncommon for car buyers to run into financial trouble and cease making insurance payments. In some cases, the rationale is that the bank will trigger its forced insurance option and cover the cost anyway.

What many don’t realize is that the car buyer is still often responsible for paying the premiums.

Those premiums tend to be extremely high, which puts financially troubled car buyers in a worse position.

Before buying a new or used car through a financing arrangement, it’s important for buyers to assess their financial situation. They need to know if they can afford the both car payment and the monthly insurance payments.

Failing to provide insurance will trigger the car insurance lien filed by the financing company, causing major headaches you don’t need. If you can’t afford the cost of comprehensive insurance, you might need to consider other options.

What are the other options available to avoid an auto insurance lien?

While it may be uncomfortable and inconvenient to have to save money ahead of time, paying cash for a vehicle not only eliminates the possibility of a car insurance lien, but also eliminates the interest payments you would make if you financed the car purchase.

One of the best ways to employ this option is to begin putting away money well before the time you’ll need to purchase a new car.

There is a second option, though it’s not recommended unless you have demonstrated strict financial discipline in the past. This option is using a credit card for a car purchase.

When using a credit card to purchase a car, if you can fully pay off the balance in six months or less, the interest payments usually add up to less than the combined interest payments and insurance costs of going the route of a traditional loan.

Be very cautious in using this option. If you extend payments beyond the six-month period, you could end up paying significantly more.

Regardless of whether or not you have an auto insurance lien attached to your new car purchase, it’s always wise to carefully consider your investment and whether or not you truly need comprehensive or full coverage.

Even with a car insurance lien, you have the right to search for the best insurance rates in your area. Get started comparing auto insurance quotes now by entering your ZIP code.

Why does having a lien have anything to do with my car insurance?

To understand why liens affect auto insurance, you must consider why we have insurance to begin with.

Simple liability coverage required by your state only covers bodily injury and property damage for others, not your own. That means if you have an accident that totals your car and all you carry is minimum liability insurance, you will have to pay to replace your vehicle on your own.

Banks and other lenders understand that if you have that kind of cash you would not have applied for a car loan.

They’re operating under the assumption that you can’t afford to replace your vehicle out of pocket. This puts them at tremendous risk because your vehicle acts as collateral for the loan.

If you total it, the bank has nothing to take possession of should you default on the loan. For all intents and purposes, they would never be able to collect what’s owed by customers who total their vehicles without proper insurance coverage.

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Does the law require protecting a lienholder with insurance?

Since insurance laws are so different from one state to the next, it’s not possible to make a blanket statement in relation to state law and lienholder coverage.

What we can say is that there are some states that require vehicles with outstanding liens to be covered by collision and comprehensive car insurance.

In states where it’s not required by law, you will most likely be forced to carry the insurance by your banker through a conditional clause in your loan contract.

If you choose to ignore the conditional clause and forgo carrying collision and comprehensive insurance, it’s quite likely that your bank will purchase an insurance plan of its own and pass the cost along to you in the form of higher monthly payments or a longer loan period.

They have every legal right to do so, by the way.

The insurance they purchase is probably going to be more expensive than what you could get on your own, especially when you figure in the bank’s costs of actually acquiring the plan. You will pay more this way, without a doubt.

What happens if I get in an accident?

If you get in an accident, there are certain lienholder rights on insurance claims you need to be aware of. Because technically both you and the bank own your vehicle, if it’s totaled in an accident, the insurance check will go to them first to pay off the remainder of your loan.

If your vehicle isn’t totaled, but you still get an insurance check to pay for damages, you may find that the car insurance check is made out to you and the lienholder.

If you’re wondering how to cash the insurance check with your lienholder, you’ll likely need to endorse it and send it to your lienholder. In some cases, the lienholder will release the funds to you immediately, while in others they may require proof that you had your vehicle repaired before they release the money.

The specifics of how this is handled often vary by state. For example, lienholder insurance claims in Texas sometimes involve the insurance company paying a settlement to the lienholder directly, in which case the lien may end up being canceled altogether (depending on the amount of the settlement).

So does having a lien on your car affect insurance rates? Is auto insurance cheaper if the car is paid off? Read through the next few sections to learn more about rates and what you might pay for the coverage required by the terms of your loan.

Does a lienholder determine auto insurance rates?

Your lienholder does not determine your car insurance rates. Your individual or family situation determines your insurance rates. The lienholder makes your loan conditional.

That condition is that you maintain full coverage to protect the investment in the event of an accident. To fulfill the condition, you will have to pay more for what is considered full coverage in your state. Fortunately, you can get this for less than 80 dollars per month.

In most states, the addition of collision and comprehensive coverage constitutes full coverage. Let’s take a look at a table showing the average rates for full coverage in each state.

Full Coverage Average Annual Auto Insurance Rates by State
District of Columbia$1,330.73$1,324.39$1,316.48$1,289.49$1,276.99
New Hampshire$818.75$795.50$773.30$755.76$746.57
New Jersey$1,382.79$1,379.20$1,369.70$1,334.59$1,303.52
New Mexico$937.59$920.42$888.83$866.19$869.85
New York$1,360.66$1,327.82$1,301.49$1,273.70$1,236.77
North Carolina$789.09$768.28$739.91$720.47$708.10
North Dakota$773.30$768.09$743.27$714.75$688.74
Rhode Island$1,303.50$1,257.40$1,210.55$1,176.05$1,148.97
South Carolina$973.10$936.69$904.22$880.82$857.70
South Dakota$766.91$744.28$717.30$690.95$669.20
West Virginia$1,025.78$1,032.45$1,021.37$1,005.68$992.57
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Collision covers the vehicle in the event of an accident involving another car or object. Collision covers your vehicle if it rolls over as well. Collision and comprehensive coverage are grouped together in most policies with a $500 to $1,000 deductible.

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What other factors affect car insurance costs?

Your lien is not the only factor that affects your auto insurance rates. Other factors include:

  • Make and model of vehicle
  • Marital status
  • Age
  • Credit
  • Gender
  • Driving record
  • ZIP code
  • Club or professional affiliation

The make and model of your car are important factors in determining rates. For example, sports cars cost more to insure than minivans. Insurers figure that a sports car driver is more likely to take risks than a soccer mom driving a minivan, plus the cost to replace it is likely higher.

Presumably, a 32-year-old male is going to have more experience and take fewer risks than a 25-year-old.

Your ZIP code is also a potential risk indicator, as some cities, towns, and neighborhoods see greater instances of accidents, thefts, and vandalism than others. And your credit rating and driving record tell the agent a lot about you as a person and your driving practices.

To find the best insurance for financed cars, or for vehicles you own outright, shop around and compare quotes from multiple insurance companies.

What constitutes full coverage?

Full coverage typically includes both collision and comprehensive coverage.

Full collision coverage is defined pretty similarly in all states. It is coverage that will pay for repairs or replacement of your vehicle after an accident that occurs on public roadways.

Sometimes collision insurance will pay for actions that occur on private property as well. Anything else that might damage your vehicle would be covered under comprehensive insurance.

How much comprehensive coverage you have will vary from one insurance carrier to the next.

If you have a lien on your vehicle, your bank may require you to have enough comprehensive coverage to take care of anything that might possibly damage the vehicle.

For example, if you live in the Midwestern states designated “Tornado Alley,” you would most likely need a comprehensive plan that will cover your car if it is destroyed in a tornado.

In a nutshell, comprehensive coverage takes care of most things that collision insurance does not.

These extra coverage options cost significantly more than minimum liability coverage.

The exact amount you’ll pay depends on factors like:

  • The make and model of your car
  • How many miles you put on it
  • Your personal driving history
  • Any other factors that might directly influence your likelihood of filing a claim

Take a look at this table, populated with rate data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), to see average rates for liability, comprehensive, collision, and full coverage by state.

Average Annual and Monthly Car Insurance Rates by State and Coverage Type
StateAverage Cost of Comprehensive Insurance per YearAverage Cost of Comprehensive Insurance per MonthAverage Cost of Collision Insurance per YearAverage Cost of Collision Insurance per MonthAverage Cost of Full Coverage Insurance per YearAverage Cost of Full Coverage Insurance per MonthAverage Cost of Liability Insurance per YearAverage Cost of Liability Insurance per Month
District of Columbia$233.24$19.44$468.67$39.06$1,330.73$110.89$628.09$52.34
South Dakota$116.53$9.71$282.96$23.58$1,257.13$104.76$289.04$24.09
New Hampshire$131.35$10.95$381.86$31.82$1,382.79$115.23$393.24$32.77
New Jersey$172.57$14.38$276.98$23.08$937.59$78.13$865.55$72.13
New Mexico$171.12$14.26$385.02$32.09$1,360.66$113.39$462.21$38.52
New York$136.08$11.34$293.59$24.47$789.09$65.76$784.98$65.42
North Carolina$231.04$19.25$244.09$20.34$773.30$64.44$357.59$29.80
North Dakota$121.61$10.13$269.84$22.49$788.56$65.71$282.55$23.55
Rhode Island$180.94$15.08$265.07$22.09$973.10$81.09$720.06$60.01
South Carolina$258.11$21.51$208.58$17.38$766.91$63.91$497.50$41.46
West Virginia$204.28$17.02$329.67$27.47$1,025.78$85.48$501.44$41.79
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Once your loan is paid off and the lien is lifted, you will no longer be required to carry these extra coverage options, though it may be a good idea to maintain the coverage anyway. Type your ZIP code into our helpful tool below to find reasonable rates for lienholders in your area.

What happens to car insurance once a lienholder receives the last payment?

Once you have paid your last installment on your loan, you can make changes to your plan. These changes may not be effective immediately, depending on where you stand on your current plan.

If you have made advance premium payments, you may have to wait for a new payment cycle for the change to go into effect.

By the time you’ve completed your lien payment installments, your car may be less valuable than it was when you initiated your insurance plan. As your car ages, you have less need for the maximum amount of comprehensive coverage.

That’s good news for a person who has struggled with an expensive premium. However, if you can afford to keep the coverage, it may be wise to do so.

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What’s the bottom line?

If you’re planning to take out a loan to purchase a vehicle, there are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to insuring it:

  • Lienholders require full coverage car insurance to protect their interest in your vehicle
  • Many factors go into the determination of your rates for insurance
  • If you do not purchase the bank-required auto insurance coverages, they can purchase insurance for you, and you will pay the additional costs

Once your loan is paid off, you can call the insurance company to have the lienholder information removed from your plan, and if you choose to do so, you can lower your coverage amounts. However, we recommend discussing this with an insurance agent first.

If we haven’t answered all of your questions today, don’t worry, because we’re going to be wrapping up with an FAQ section.

FAQs: What else is there to know about a lienholder?

Still have questions about liens on your vehicle, insurance requirements associated with those liens, and how they can affect your rates? Read through these frequently asked questions to learn more.

#1 – Can a lienholder require a certain amount of car insurance?

As we’ve already discussed, a lienholder may require a certain type of auto insurance coverage, which will be outlined in the terms of your loan. Beyond the minimum required by your loan and your state laws, you can choose your exact amount of coverage. It’s best to consult with an agent when doing so.

You have the option of choosing how much coverage you pay for as long as it is enough for replacement costs or the actual cash value of your car.

If you have an antique car or specialty vehicle that is financed by a lender, they want to be assured it is covered with enough collision and comprehensive to pay for the cost of repair or replacement.

You may have to have your car appraised to determine the value. If you own a specialty car, this amount was probably determined when the lender loaned you the money for the renovations (or for whatever reason they loaned you the money).

#2 – Does having a lien on your car affect insurance rates?

Is car insurance more expensive for a financed car? Only in the sense that if your vehicle is financed, you’ll have to carry more coverage as part of the minimum requirements set by the term of your loan.

  • When you have a lien on your vehicle, your lender will require additional coverage beyond the state-required minimum.
  • To protect their interest in your vehicle, banks usually require lenders to purchase collision and comprehensive coverage.
  • Required auto insurance lienholder coverage options will cost more; many factors contribute to your premium, but it will cost more to have full coverage than liability coverage alone.

Having a lien on your car is just one of many factors that go into determining your car insurance rates. How much impact these factors make on your premium depends on the state you live in, who the lienholder is, and the value of your car.

You can rest assured that if you have a lienholder, you will almost always be required to carry full collision and comprehensive coverage.

If you’re unfamiliar with the terms “lien” or “lienholder,” they’re pretty simple to understand. As we’ve already discussed, a lien is simply a legal filing that states someone else has a financial interest in property that you own.

The lienholder is the one who has that interest and has filed the lien. In terms of your car, a lienholder would be the bank that loaned you the money to purchase it. They have a financial interest in that car until you completely pay back the loan.

How do I become a lienholder? In most cases, you won’t, because you are not a bank.

#3 – Can a lienholder file an insurance claim?

Yes. This is one way they could recoup their losses in the event your vehicle is totaled in an accident before you pay it off.

#4 – How do I find out the lienholder on my car?

You’ll need your vehicle identification number (VIN). With that, you should be able to find out the lienholder information on your vehicle through your local Department of Motor Vehicles (depending on where you live, this can be done online or in-person).

It’s important to comparison shop for full coverage auto insurance rates so you have what you need to meet the terms of your car loan. Get started finding lienholder car insurance quotes now by entering your ZIP code below.

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about auto insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything auto insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by auto insurance experts.

A former insurance producer, Laura understands that education is key when it comes to buying insurance. She has happily dedicated many hours to helping her clients understand how the insurance marketplace works so they can find the best car, home, and life insurance products for their needs.

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Written by Laura Berry
Former Insurance Agent Laura Berry

Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP® Joel Ohman

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