State DMVs are on a mission to lower the number of uninsured drivers on the road, and requiring car insurance before registering a car is a major step in that direction. In most states, you’ll need to verify your car insurance coverage in order to legally register your car or truck. There are typically two ways to do this:
- Bring your proof of insurance form or insurance ID card to the DMV when you go to register your car or truck. In states that maintain an electronic insurance database, you only need to provide the name of your company.
- Register your car and then provide proof of insurance within a specific timeframe, which varies by state.
DMV.org tip #1: To save yourself future hassle, bring your proof of insurance to the DMV when you head in to register your car. This way you won’t need to double back to prove insurance and you won’t risk a suspended registration.
Your state DMV will check your car insurance status to make sure you meet the legally required coverage minimums. Required coverages may include:
- Bodily injury and property damage liability coverage
- Personal injury protection coverage (no-fault states only)
- Uninsured motorist coverage
Even though your coverage travels with you across state borders, you won’t be able to register a car or truck if your insurance is from a different state. In other words, you can’t register a car in New York by submitting proof of liability coverage from New Jersey.
Most states require new residents to register their cars and trucks within a specific timeframe. Florida gives its new residents just 10 days to register while Alabama and New York make it 30 days. In order to prove you meet your state’s insurance minimums, you’ll need to update or switch your car insurance shortly after settling in. You won’t be able to register a car in a state you aren’t insured in.
If you’re new to a state and you’re in the market for new car insurance, we can help you start free quotes online.
As state DMVs embrace the convenience of the Internet (no lines!), the ability to renew your car’s registration online is becoming more common. In California, for example, you can typically renew online so long as you’re insured by one of the companies that submits information to the official state insurance database.
DMV.org tip #2: Before you clear your schedule, check to see whether your state DMV offers online registration and whether you’re eligible for it. It could save quite a bit of time.
There are a few insurance-related reasons for registration suspensions.
Failure to provide proof of coverage
In some states, you may be able to initially register a car so long as you provide proof of car insurance coverage within a specific timeframe. States will suspend registration after that time period.
After a car insurance policy is canceled
States now monitor your insurance coverage electronically, and insurance companies are required to notify the DMV when coverage is canceled for any reason.
In California, a driver has a 45-day window to submit proof of new coverage after a policy cancellation.
Initial insurance information was fraudulent
Worth noting, but this one probably goes without saying.
Alternatives to car insurance
Find out how you might be able to meet your state’s proof of financial responsibility requirements without buying car insurance.
Car registration by state
Head here to find state-specific registration info.
Title transfers by state
If you’re buying or selling a car or truck, find out how to transfer official ownership in these pages.