Can the car insurance be in your parents' name?

Yes, It can be in your parents name if you are still a minor, a dependent or are still a household resident So long as "YOU" are also a scheduled driver on the parents policy. Failure to schedule your self as a driver is a common form of Insurance Fraud.

So whether the policy is in your name or your parents name, as a regular driver or with regular access you are required to be listed as a driver on the policy.

I most U.S. states. A minor can buy a vehicle. However, due to the limitations of contract law where minors are concerned, A parent or other legal guardian would either have to provide the auto insurance or countersign the application for the Insurance Policy to be a legally binding contract

Whether you live in the same residence as your mother or not, you bring up an important issue when you say "we're thinking this will be the most inexpensive way for me to drive."

Most carriers will allow your mother to carry insurance on both the vehicles, though there could be a problem if you live in a separate residence and keep the old car there. However, all carriers would require that you be listed as an insured driver, particularly if you're the main driver of your mom's old car.

Not adding you to the policy, and then admitting that you thought it would be the most inexpensive way to drive, is essentially material misrepresentation. Your mother pays for herself as a driver, but her rates wouldn't have you factored in. Most insurance carriers would promptly deny coverage in such a scenario if you were to have an accident. Of course, most people wouldn't admit that they were just trying to save money, which of course is insurance fraud (difficult to prove, but a mess when it is).

So, have your mom add you to her policy. Her rates may go up, but in the end, it probably is cheaper than you buying your own policy. It would be best for her to maintain ownership of her old car, as well, to avoid confusion about what a covered vehicle is.

Insurance companies now use the term "household". As long as the child (married or unmarried of driving age) lives in the same house as the parent, he or she is considered a household member, therefore needing to be in the policy. The only way to exclude a household member (of driving age) from an auto policy would be for the following reasons:

1. That person has his/her own insurance policy. 2. Never been licensed

Insurance companies usually deny excluding a spouse from a policy, unless a divorce decree has been issued.

Clarification

It should be pointed out that in some jurisdictions the owner's name on the car registration must match the name on the insurance policy. If the car is in your name then your name should appear on the policy to avoid registration problems. The "insured" (name of the owner on the policy) must have an insurable interest in the property.