Do You Need Proof of Insurance to Register a Car?

Do You Need Proof of Insurance to Register a Car?

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Most states require proof of insurance or financial responsibility in order to register your vehicle and get your tags, but seven states do not require it for registration.

Those states are Arizona, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Tennessee, Washington and Wisconsin.

All states except for New Hampshire require basic liability coverage to operate a vehicle.

Is proof of insurance necessary to register a vehicle?

Most states require you to get car insurance first before you can register your car. Even in states that don't, you'll still need a car insurance policy with minimum coverage before you can drive in that state.

State
Proof of Insurance is Required
Allows Online Renewals?
AlabamaBefore RegistrationYes — Certain Counties
AlaskaBefore RegistrationYes
ArizonaBefore DrivingYes
ArkansasBefore RegistrationYes
CaliforniaBefore RegistrationYes
ColoradoBefore RegistrationYes
ConnecticutBefore RegistrationYes
DelawareBefore RegistrationNo, but does offer drive-thru renewals
FloridaBefore RegistrationYes
GeorgiaBefore RegistrationYes — Certain Counties
HawaiiBefore RegistrationYes
IdahoBefore RegistrationYes
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New Hampshire is the only state that does not require liability insurance to operate a car. However, the state does require proof of financial responsibility, which means that drivers must prove they could cover the cost of an accident if they cause one. Most New Hampshire drivers achieve this by purchasing liability insurance anyway. See the table below to find out when your state requires proof of insurance.

Most states offer an online renewal system that eliminates the need for a trip to the DMV. Drivers must renew their registration every 1 to 5 years, depending on the state and the year of their vehicle. Newer vehicles tend to require renewals less frequently since their engines were built to comply with higher emissions standards.

Many states let you sign up online for an automatic reminder of when it's time for your next renewal. All states except New Hampshire require current liability insurance in order to renew your registration. See the table below to find your state's online renewal information.

What happens if I let my insurance expire?

Driving without insurance is a misdemeanor offense that can lead to fines and even jail sentences in repeat cases. If you let your insurance policy lapse, your registration will eventually be suspended. In some states, this occurs if you're caught with expired insurance, such as when you're pulled over for speeding. In states with an electronic filing system, your insurance provider will alert your state's DMV as soon as your policy has lapsed, and you'll receive a notice to renew your insurance in order to maintain registration.

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