Zaneta Wood, Ed.S. has over 15 years of experience in research and technical writing bringing a keen understanding of data analysis and information synthesis to reach a wide variety of audiences. She studied adult education and instructional technology at Appalachian State University as well as technical and professional communication at East Carolina University. Zaneta has prepared technical p...

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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®

UPDATED: Sep 15, 2020

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Summary DetailsFrom the Experts...
Before a vehicle owner is able to register his or her car, proof of insurance is necessaryState DMVs
Most states will immediately suspend a car's registration once it has been determined there is no insurance coverageConsumer Federation of America
Penalties for driving uninsured vary by state, but can include fess of between $50 and $5,000 as well as suspension of driving privilegesConsumer Federation of America
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Registering and insuring a vehicle go hand-in-hand in almost every state. But do you need car insurance before or after registration of your vehicle? Coverage is typically required first, before registration.

In other words, registering a car without insurance is not possible. Typically you’ll need to provide proof of insurance coverage to your state motor vehicle department.

Even states that don’t mandate minimum liability coverage from a licensed insurance provider require proof of insurance. Such states still require individual proof of financial ability to pay accident claims. It’s not a good idea to get caught driving without insurance.

To make sure you have the coverage you need to drive legally and be able to register your vehicle, enter your ZIP code to start comparing car online insurance quotes from America’s top providers for free.

Table of Contents

Car Insurance and Vehicle Registration

You already know you need car insurance in order to legally drive, but what comes first? Car insurance or registration? As we noted above, you do typically need insurance to register a car, so check out four proven facts that demonstrate the necessity of car insurance to register your vehicle.

#1 – You Must Have Insurance to Register Your Vehicle

Before a vehicle owner is able to register his or her car, proof of insurance is usually necessary. Usually, an insurance card or a printout detailing the type of coverage you have purchased is adequate.

The local Department of Motor Vehicles will need to see that the proof of insurance supplied is valid, lists the vehicle you want to register, and provides the minimum amount of coverage.

It is not typically legal to register a vehicle unless you have a car insurance policy.

Even temporary car insurance coverage will work if you are able to fax or mail in a copy of your permanent car insurance policy within 30 days.

By tying registration and auto insurance obligations together, states theoretically reduce the number of uninsured drivers on the road. However, statistics show that in most cases where uninsured drivers are caught, a lapsed policy is the reason for being uninsured.

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#2 – You Will Face Penalties if Caught Driving Without Insurance

The cost of car accidents can be extremely high, so states take the matter of carrying car insurance very seriously. Almost all of them will immediately suspend a car’s registration once it has been determined that there is no insurance coverage.

Some states, like New York, for example, give drivers a short period of time to surrender the car’s license plates once insurance coverage has lapsed. A failure to do so will result in suspension of your driver’s license.

Find the penalty in your state for a driving uninsured first offense in this table.

Penalty for Driving Uninsured (First Offense) by State
StateSuspension of Driving Privileges FineOther Penalties
AlabamaSuspension with $200 reinstatement feeUp to $500
AlaskaLicense suspension for 90 days
ArizonaLicense/registration/license plate suspension for three monthsAt least $500
ArkansasSuspended registration/no plates until proof of coverage plus $20 reinstatement fee$50 to $250Court may order impoundment
California$100 to $200 plus penalty assessmentsCourt may order impoundment
ColoradoLicense suspension until you can show proof to the DMV that you are insuredAt least $500Four points against your license. Courts may add up to 40 hours community service
ConnecticutSuspended registration/license for one month (show proof of insurance) with $175 reinstatement fee$100 to $1000
DelawareLicense/privilege suspension for six months$1500 minimum fine
FloridaSuspension of license and registration until reinstatement fee is paid and non-cancelable coverage is secured; $150 fee for first reinstatement
GeorgiaSuspended registration with $25 lapse fee and $60 reinstatement feePay any other registration fees and vehicle ad valorem taxes due
HawaiiEither license suspension for three months or a required nonrefundable insurance policy in force for six months$500 fine or community service granted by judge
IdahoLicense suspension until financial proof$75
IllinoisLicense plate suspension until $100 reinstatement fee and insurance proof
IndianaLicense/registration suspension for 90 days to one year
IowaRemoval of plates and registration possible when pulled over without insurance and reissued upon payment of fine or completed community service, proof of insurance, and $15 fee$500 if in accident; Otherwise $250.
Or community service in lieu of fine
Possible impoundment
Kansaslicense/registration suspension; reinstatement fee: $100$300 to $1000Confinement in jail up to six months instead of or in addition to fine
KentuckyLicense plates and registration revoked for one year or until proof of insurance is shown$500 to $1000Up to 90 days in jail instead of or in addition to fine
LouisianaIf in car accident, fine plus registration revoked and driving privileges suspended for 180 days$500 to $1000
MaineSuspension of license and registration until proof of insurance$100 to $500
MarylandLose license plates and vehicle registration privileges; Pay a restoration fee of up to $25 for a vehicle's registrationPay uninsured motorist penalty fees for each lapse of insurance — $150 for the first 30 days, $7 for each day thereafter
Massachusetts$500 to $5000Imprisonment for one year or less instead of or in addition to fine
MichiganLicense suspension for 30 days or until proof of insurance$200 to $500
$25 service fee to Secretary of State
Imprisonment for one year or less instead of or in addition to fine
MinnesotaLicense and registration revoked for no more than 12 months$200 to $1000Community service possible instead of fine; 90 days imprisonment instead of or in addition to fine
MississippiDriving privileges suspended for one year or until proof of insurance $1000
MissouriSuspended until proof of insurance with $20 reinstatement feeFour points against driving record; Driver may be supervised
Montana$250 to $500Imprisonment for no more than 10 days instead of or in addition to fine
NebraskaLicense and registration suspension; reinstatement fee of $50 for eachProof of insurance to remain on file for three years
NevadaRegistration suspension — until payment of $250 reinstatement fee $250 to $1,000 depending on length of lapseDepending on circumstances, an SR-22 (proof of financial responsibility) if lapsed more than 90 days
New HampshireNot a mandatory insurance state. Proof of insurance may be required as the result of a conviction, crash involvement, or administrative action. If you are required to file proof of insurance and vehicles are registered in your name, you will be required to file an Owner’s SR-22 Certificate of Insurance.
New JerseyLicense suspension for one year$300 to $1000Pay surcharges for three years in the amount of $250 per year
New MexicoLicense suspensionUp to $300Imprisoned for 90 days instead of or in addition to fine
New YorkRegistration suspension equal to time without insurance; License suspension equal to registration suspension if without insurance for 90 daysUp to $1500 if involved in accident plus $750 civil penaltyInstead of suspension, option to pay $8/day up to thirty days for which financial security was not in effect, $10/day from the thirty-first to the sixtieth day $12/day from the sixtieth to the ninetieth day and proof of security is provided; up to 15 days imprisonment in addition to or instead of fine
North CarolinaRegistration suspension until proof of financial responsibility but 30-day suspension if in car accident or knowingly driving without insurance; $50 restoration fee plus license plate fee$50
North DakotaSuspension until proof of insurance is providedUp to $150030 days imprisonment instead of or in addition to fine; 14 points against license; proof of insurance must be provided for one year; license with a
notation requiring that person keep proof of liability insurance on file with the department. The fee for this license is $50, and the fee to remove
this notation is $50
OhioLicense/plates/registration suspension until requirements are met and $100 reinstatement fee is paid Maintain special high-risk coverage on file with the BMV for three to five years; if involved in an accident without insurance, all above penalties and a security suspension for two plus years and an indefinite judgment suspension (until all damages are satisfied)
OklahomaLicense suspension with $275 reinstatement fee $250Jail time up to 30 days; police can seize license plates and assign temporary plates and liability insurance — in effect for 10 days and can also impound the vehicle. The cost of the temporary coverage is added to the administrative fee and any fines paid for plates to be returned. If car impounded, owner must also pay towing and storage fees
OregonIf involved in accident — at least a one year license suspension$130 to $1000 ($260 is the presumptive fine)Proof of financial responsibility required for three years
PennsylvaniaRegistration suspended for three months (unless lapse was for less than 31 days and vehicle not operated during that time); $88 restoration fee plus proof of insurance required to get it back$500 civil penalty fee is optional in lieu of registration suspension plus $88 restoration fee — can only use this option once within a 12-month period
Rhode Island
License and registration suspension up to three months; reinstatement fee: $30 to $50$100 to $500
South Carolina
License/registration suspended until proof of insurance plus $200 reinstatement fee$100 to $20030 days imprisonment instead of fine
South DakotaLicense suspension for 30 days to one year$10030 days imprisonment instead of or in addition to fine; filing proof of insurance (SR-22) with the state for three years from date of conviction. Failure to file proof will result in suspension of vehicle registration, license plates, and driver license
TennesseeOnly if fee is unpaid$25 within 30 daysPay $25 coverage failure fee within 30 days of notice; if not paid, then an additional $100 coverage failure fee with suspension or revocation of registration plus reinstatement fee of no more than $25
Texas$175 to $350pay up to a $250 surcharge every year for three years (may be reduced with certain requirements)
UtahLicense suspension until proof of insurance (maintained for three years) and $100 reinstatement fee$400
VermontLicense suspended until proof of insuranceUp to $500
VirginiaMay pay $500 Uninsured Motorists Vehicle fee to drive without insurance at your own risk. If this fee is not paid in lieu of insurance, all driving and vehicle registration privileges will be suspended until a $500 statutory fee is paid, proof of insurance is filed for three years, and a reinstatement fee (if applicable) is paid
WashingtonUp to $250
Washington D.C.
West VirginiaLicense suspended for 30 days with reinstatement fees, unless there's proof of insurance and $200 penalty fee$200 to $5000
WisconsinUp to $500
WyomingUp to $750Up to six months imprisonment
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In addition, most states also levy punitive fines to drivers caught on the road without adequate car insurance. In some cases, the fines are accompanied by a penalty period in which the car can neither be insured nor registered.

The idea behind such punitive measures is to discourage repeat offenses among those who would allow their insurance coverage to lapse. Such penalties still apply even in cases where you might be insuring and registering a vehicle titled in someone else’s name.

#3 – The DMV Will Be Notified of an Insurance Lapse

As stated earlier, it’s not possible under most circumstances to register a vehicle without proof of insurance coverage. As for those cases where drivers allow insurance coverage to lapse, states track this through a variety of means.

Some rely on ID cards compared to routine reports from car insurance companies licensed to do business in their state. Others utilize an electronic database that is regularly updated and can be accessed by both police and the DMV (we’ll talk about this in greater detail later).

Check out the following facts about uninsured drivers in the U.S. from the Insurance Information Institute:

  • The national average of uninsured drivers is 13 percent
  • Maine has the lowest rate at 4.5 percent
  • Florida has the highest rate at 26.7 percent

New York has the second lowest rate at six percent. New York accomplishes this through a mandatory electronic system that all licensed insurance carriers must use. Insurance provider computers are linked to the system so every time a policy is changed the state is notified.

As soon as an insurance policy is allowed to lapse, the state DMV computer automatically generates a letter that is sent to the driver to encourage corrective action.

#4 – There Is No Fool-Proof Way to Make Sure Every Car on the Road Is Insured

Under the current registration and insurance system, there is no absolutely fool-proof method of making sure that every car on the road has insurance coverage.

Some experts claim that the current system could be improved by turning over registration and licensing responsibilities to insurance providers.

One theory is that the insurance companies could not issue license plates until owners have insured a vehicle.  At the end of the policy, or at the time of lapse, those plates would no longer be valid.

Though privatizing the registration and licensing process does have its advantages, it still doesn’t prevent drivers from allowing insurance coverage to lapse while leaving the plates on the vehicle.

In order for this system to work, a method of enforcement needs to be adopted. Something similar to bank repossession for a defaulted loan could work well.

If insurance companies were given the authority to repossess license plates after an insurance lapse, the system could probably reduce the number of uninsured drivers to a negligible number.

Maintaining appropriate car insurance is a legal responsibility as well as a social one. Not only are the potential fines and penalties for driving uninsured costly for you, but the costs incurred by other drivers in an accident you cause can be even higher.

Before heading down to the DMV to register your vehicle, find the best car insurance rates in your area for by entering your ZIP code in our free tool.

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How to Register and Insure Your Vehicle

Can you register your car without insurance? Typically no. So before operating your motor vehicle, you must purchase insurance coverage

  • You must also register your vehicle with the state in which you live
  • Operating a motor vehicle on any public road without proper registration and insurance is illegal
  • The only exception to this rule applies to farm vehicles that may need to move from one piece of land to the next

Owning your first car can indeed be an exciting venture. But simply making a purchase is not enough to allow you to start driving.

You first have to procure insurance for your car, as well as register it with the state. Doing these things can be somewhat time-consuming, but both are usually easy tasks.

Outside of the a few exceptions, you are risking serious penalties, and possibly even jail time, if you’re caught driving a vehicle without correct registration and insurance.

When it’s time to find insurance on that new car, you can shop for car insurance quotes online by entering your ZIP code above.

Can you register a car without insurance?

Just about every state requires that drivers carry a minimum amount of liability insurance on any vehicle they register. But do you need to insure a car before registering it? Yes.

In states that don’t require a traditional insurance policy, drivers must still file a form attesting to the fact that they have the financial resources to qualify as self-insured.

In either case, this must be done before your vehicle can be registered. You may be wondering, do I need proof of insurance to register my car? Yes, you’ll need to take with you a copy of your insurance certificate when you go to the DMV to register the car.

If you allow your coverage to lapse, you may also be required to surrender your registration in some states. In order to get your registration back you will have to once again procure auto insurance and provide a certificate of proof.

In some states, driving without insurance can mean hefty fines, a one-year suspension of your driver’s license, and significantly higher insurance rates for at least a couple of years.

Once I have my insurance, what do I do?

Most states require that first-time registrations be done in person at a local branch of the Department of Motor Vehicles. You will need to take with you all appropriate paperwork including sales receipt, registration application, proof of car insurance, and anything else your state might require.

If you’re not sure what you’ll need, contact your local DMV branch before your visit.

Be aware that some states require drivers to prove their residency through a utility bill or some other piece of mail with the correct address on it.

At your local DMV office, workers will examine your paperwork to make sure everything is in order. If it is, they will print your registration, give you license plates, and collect the registration fee.

In states where license plates stay with a vehicle for its lifetime, you’ll only receive new plates if you’ve purchased a car from out of state or from a dealer that does not provide plates. All other vehicles in those states will simply be provided with a new registration card.

How long do I have to register my vehicle?

Laws differ between the states regarding many aspects of motor vehicle ownership, usage, and registration. When it comes to time limits for registration, some states have them while others don’t.

For example, in the state of California you must register your vehicle within ten days of the date of purchase. Failure to do so will result in late fees being assessed when you eventually do decide to register it.

New York, on the other hand, has no time limit for vehicle registrations following a purchase.

If you’re talking about moving into a new state rather than purchasing a new vehicle, things are a bit different. Almost every state has a specific time limit after which you are required to register your vehicle in that state.

Using California as an example again, you are considered a state resident after 30 days of uninterrupted time in California. You must register your out-of-state vehicle with the California DMV immediately upon reaching the 30-day requirement.

There are other states whose time limits are very similar to California. On the other hand, there are others with time limits that are much more forgiving. In a couple of southern states, for example, residency requirements don’t kick in for 60 or 90 days.

This gives you more time to register your vehicle in the new state. Rest assured, however, that if you live in a new state long enough to establish residency, and you don’t change your registration, you could be fined if you’re ever pulled over for a violation.

Whether you’re moving to a new state or staying where you are, you can find reliable online car insurance quotes by entering your ZIP code in our free tool.

Car registration or insurance first?

Both auto insurance and car registration are required to legally drive in the U.S. But is insurance required before or after registration? Do you have to register a car before insuring it? Or does your car have to be insured to register it? If so, do you need proof of insurance to register a car?

In general, you’ll need insurance first because most states require proof of insurance as part of the registration process.

The national average rate of auto insurance is $1,427/yr or $118/mo.

  • A car registration is used so the government knows who legally owns the car
  • Car insurance helps protect drivers from financial burden when an accident occurs
  • In most cases, the minimum amount of car insurance coverage allowed in a state is not enough to help in a serious accident

A car registration and an auto insurance policy are both requirements to operate a vehicle legally in most states. Registering the vehicle allows the government to track who the legal owner is. Car insurance is bought by the vehicle owner to provide financial protection if they are involved in an accident.

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Registering a Vehicle

A person who has recently bought a vehicle or had ownership transferred to themselves will need to register it with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for their state.

Individuals who have recently moved to a new state are also required to register the vehicle with the DMV after they arrive.

Contact the DMV office to find out what the time limit is for new residents of the state.

When a car is bought through a dealership, the dealer may submit the title and registration documents to the DMV on the new owner’s behalf. Private sales and title transfers are handled differently, and the owner is required to go to the DMV office to submit the required paperwork themselves.

The new owner will be required to show their driver’s license, as well as the title document.

A bill of sale, which may need to be notarized, is also required.

To find out exactly what documents the new owner of a vehicle is required to produce at registration, contact the local DMV office.

Do I need proof of insurance to register a car? Do I buy insurance before registering a car, or after? While car insurance is required to legally operate a motor vehicle, proof of insurance is not always required to simply register the vehicle (it depends on where you live). When the owner signs the registration document, this action indicates the vehicle is properly insured.

When you visit the DMV, make sure they are not sharing your private information with people they shouldn’t be. In a recent study, we found several states’ DMVs were selling your information private third parties in unethical ways.

Buying Car Insurance

Each state sets a minimum level of insurance coverage that must be purchased for a vehicle. In many parts of the United States, drivers are only legally required to carry liability insurance, which pays for medical bills, lost wages, and funeral expenses for the occupants of the other vehicle involved in an accident.

Watch this video to learn more about liability coverage.

There are some states in which drivers can prove financial ability to cover the costs of an accident, rather than purchase insurance. However, this is not feasible for most drivers.

Driving without car insurance, or the appropriate proof of ability to pay, is not only punishable as a criminal offense, but it can lead to serious financial consequences for the vehicle owner.

Without this type of protection, the owner is personally responsible for damages caused in an accident.

The car insurance put in place on a vehicle is a contract between the vehicle owner and the insurer. As long as the owner has bought at least the minimum level of coverage required by law, the state is not concerned with how much coverage they are carrying.

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Getting the Best Car Insurance Coverage

Car owners need to do their homework to find the right level of coverage for their needs and to get the best possible rate.

Buying the minimum amount required by law will satisfy the state, but may not be sufficient protection if a serious accident occurs.

Medical expenses alone can add up very quickly, and a policy that pays out a relatively small amount may not be the best choice.

Coverage rates are something that most car insurance buyers consider before making a purchase. To give you a baseline, take a look at this table to see average annual rates by state for different types of car insurance coverage.

Average Annual Insurance Rates by Coverage Type in Each State
StateAverage Cost of Comprehensive Insurance per YearAverage Cost of Collision Insurance per YearAverage Cost of Full Coverage Insurance per YearAverage Cost of Liability Insurance per Year
Alabama$156.31$317.96$868.48$372.57
Alaska$137.26$350.81$1,027.75$547.34
Arizona$186.12$277.96$972.85$488.59
Arkansas$190.41$321.80$906.34$381.14
California$100.54$396.55$986.75$462.95
Colorado$174.61$287.00$981.64$477.10
Connecticut$131.62$368.51$1,151.07$633.95
Delaware$122.49$318.77$1,240.57$776.50
District of Columbia$233.24$468.67$1,330.73$628.09
South Dakota$116.53$282.96$1,257.13$289.04
Florida$159.18$331.83$1,048.40$845.05
Georgia$101.56$313.17$873.28$490.64
Hawaii$116.55$219.05$679.89$458.49
Idaho$128.13$309.71$884.56$337.17
Illinois$122.06$250.29$755.03$430.54
Indiana$183.53$219.75$702.46$372.44
Iowa$267.91$263.33$862.93$293.34
Kansas$141.39$267.91$938.51$342.33
Kentucky$215.17$414.36$1,405.36$518.91
Louisiana$104.98$259.98$703.82$727.15
Maine$152.72$353.99$1,116.45$333.92
Maryland$134.96$388.28$1,129.29$599.48
Massachusetts$154.85$413.83$1,364.00$587.75
Michigan$184.27$234.40$875.49$722.04
Minnesota$210.33$323.22$994.05$439.58
Mississippi$181.27$275.28$872.43$437.38
Missouri$211.91$265.32$863.52$399.41
Montana$229.25$237.13$831.02$387.77
Nebraska$117.63$303.86$1,103.05$349.07
Nevada$110.77$307.42$818.75$647.07
New Hampshire$131.35$381.86$1,382.79$393.24
New Jersey$172.57$276.98$937.59$865.55
New Mexico$171.12$385.02$1,360.66$462.21
New York$136.08$293.59$789.09$784.98
North Carolina$231.04$244.09$773.30$357.59
North Dakota$121.61$269.84$788.56$282.55
Ohio$225.84$318.47$1,005.32$376.16
Oklahoma$93.87$226.83$904.83$441.57
Oregon$144.21$327.24$970.51$553.43
Pennsylvania$132.19$411.51$1,303.50$495.02
Rhode Island$180.94$265.07$973.10$720.06
South Carolina$258.11$208.58$766.91$497.50
Tennessee$148.45$309.07$871.43$397.73
Texas$206.42$374.49$1,109.66$498.44
Utah$109.50$265.90$872.93$471.26
Vermont$125.48$295.42$764.02$340.98
Virginia$136.54$280.52$842.67$413.12
Washington$106.38$265.74$968.80$568.92
West Virginia$204.28$329.67$1,025.78$501.44
Wisconsin$136.81$226.00$737.18$359.84
Wyoming$247.57$278.83$847.44$323.38
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There is a definite balancing act involved in getting the right level of protection without paying too much for it. One way to get this balance right is to shop around and compare offerings from several insurance companies before making a final decision.

The Internet makes this process relatively quick and convenient for car insurance consumers.

When you are buying a car, you want to get the necessary paperwork for car registration and car insurance coverage out of the way quickly so  you can start driving it. Do I need insurance to register a car? Usually yes, so take care of purchasing a policy first, before heading to the DMV.

Don’t spend more time than you need to search for the right insurance coverage when the insurance tool on this page is available to help you compare rates from different providers.

Enter your ZIP code to access car insurance rates from multiple companies!

Can I register my car without insurance?

Every state has their own vehicle registration rules when it comes to an owner registering a new car. In some states, the Department of Motor Vehicles has done away with the requirement to show your proof of car insurance to the agent as the vehicle is being registered.

However, if you’re wondering, do I register a car first or insure it? The answer is, you should probably insure it first, so you can legally drive it on the road.

Every state has their own vehicle registration rules when it comes to an owner registering a new car. If you have just recently moved to a new state or you are planning on buying a new car, it is your responsibility to set aside time to learn about the registration process. Can I register a car without insurance? You’ll need to check your state laws to find out.

In most states, you will be required to present your personal identification, your proof of residency, and proof of vehicle ownership to register a car in your name. This will help you avoid delays and possible monetary penalties.

Read this guide to car insurance and obtaining your registration so that you are prepared and protected as a vehicle owner.

Do you need to have coverage to register a car?

In many states, the Department of Motor Vehicles has done away with the requirement to show your proof of car insurance to the agent as the vehicle is being registered.

While the agent might not ask to see proof of coverage just to hand over your plates, that does not mean that you do not need to have coverage in place.

A majority of states do require that you have coverage, they just verify your coverage in another way.

State Car Insurance Requirements

All states have some form of compulsory insurance or financial responsibility law in place. These laws may change every couple of years, but they are essential to keeping drivers and pedestrians safe on public roadways.

If you are new to a state or you have never brushed up on the requirements, you should set aside some time to learn about the minimum insurance requirements set by your state officials.

Some states may only require you to have liability insurance and others may require more. Many times, coverage requirements depend upon what type of system is used for car insurance injury claims.

What do we mean by that? Keep reading to see a breakdown of the two types of systems widely used in the U.S. today.

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What are tort systems?

A tort auto insurance system is a fault-based system where the person deemed negligent for third-party injuries in a crash is responsible for paying for the bills and other costs.

Currently, a majority of states operate under tort systems. In these states, all drivers must have at least Bodily Injury and Property Damage coverage, but some may also require Uninsured Motorist and Medical Payments.

What are no-fault systems?

There are currently 12 states that have some form of no-fault car insurance system. With so many different variations of no-fault insurance, there is no real pure system in place.

When there is a no-fault system, it is not the negligent party who pays for the medical bills. Instead, every person has insurance that will pay for their own medical bills when they are injured in a collision.

This is why all policyholders must have Personal Injury Protection that pays for medical transport, treatment, and rehabilitation costs.

Some states will also require a minimum amount of liability coverage to protect you if you cross state lines. These are partially no-fault states, where you may buy more coverage for the right to sue for pain and suffering in more serious accidents.

Optional Car Insurance Coverage Types

Transportation agencies will only verify that a vehicle owner carries what is required by law and not the optional types of coverage that are offered.

While having state minimum limits for coverage will satisfy the law, this basic type of policy does not ensure you are protected.

It is very important that you compare the types of coverage available, price different limits, and build yourself a policy that really passes the burden of paying for claims on to the carrier.

Here are some other types of cover you can buy:

  • Higher limits of liability
  • Medical payments
  • Comprehensive cover for your vehicle
  • Collision cover for your vehicle
  • Uninsured Motorist
  • Uninsured Motorist Property Damage

Shop around and talk to licensed insurance agents to help you determine the best coverage mix for your needs and lifestyle.

How does the DMV verify that you have coverage?

Do you have to register your car before getting insurance? Can you get a license plate without insurance? As we’re already noted, it depends on where you live. If you’re in one of the states that does not require you to  present proof of coverage, you might wonder how your coverage is verified.

After all, you do not have to be pulled over by a police officer just to get caught being uninsured.

Now, with all of the different database systems that are used by agencies and insurers, the DMV can request your proof of coverage and determine when a policy cancels while the registration is still active.

What is the electronic verification system?

In an effort to combat the high rates of uninsured motorists, many state officials are passing laws that require insurance carriers to actually report the policy status of each vehicle that they insure to the DMV electronically.

This is reported using an electronic verification system which both the DMV and the carrier have access to.

This updates the status of your registration soon after the DMV finds out that you do not have an active car insurance policy.

If you are making an appointment to register your vehicle and you do not yet have insurance, it is time to start shopping. The best way to shop the price of coverage is to compare the rates with many different licensed carriers.

If you want to comparison shop without contacting several companies directly, use an online rate quote tool and enter your information.

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The Bottom Line for Car Insurance Vehicle Registration

In most cases, you’re required to provide proof of insurance when registering your vehicle. If you live in a state that does not require this, it doesn’t mean you don’t insurance for that vehicle.

Regardless of whether or not proof of insurance is necessary to register your vehicle, you should always maintain coverage that at least meets the minimum liability requirements set by your state (though it’s a good idea to purchase a policy with additional coverage).

Ready to get the coverage you need so you can register your vehicle? Start comparing car insurance rates now by entering your ZIP code in our free tool.