What Is a CARCO Inspection for Insurance?

Last Updated on January 19, 2023

CARCO is a fraud prevention system available across the United States. Before getting car insurance in certain states, you may need to complete a CARCO pre-insurance inspection.

CARCO maintains car inspection sites in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Florida. During a CARCO inspection, technicians conduct a physical inspection to ensure the vehicle is properly valued and insured.

Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about CARCO inspections for car insurance and how they work.

Table of Contents:

How CARCO Pre-Insurance Inspections Work

Some states require you to complete a pre-insurance inspection before you receive physical damage insurance coverage – including collision and comprehensive coverage.

If you live in New York, New Jersey, Florida, Rhode Island, or Massachusetts, for example, then you must complete a pre-insurance inspection before receiving physical damage insurance coverage.

CARCO is the leading provider of fraud prevention pre-insurance inspection services in the United States. Insurance companies partner with CARCO to reduce the risk of insurance fraud. If your state requires a pre-insurance inspection, you may take your vehicle to a CARCO inspection site.

You take your vehicle to a CARCO inspection site in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, or Florida – wherever your vehicle is registered. Then, a technician conducts a physical inspection to ensure your vehicle is properly insured and valued.

Some of the reasons you need a CARCO inspection include the following:

  • For insurance companies to reduce the risk of fraud
  • To confirm the vehicle is properly valued and insured
  • To ensure unsafe vehicles, including salvage, junk, flood, and insurance (JSI) total loss vehicles, are identified properly for public safety
  • To track any pre-existing damage to your vehicle that could influence future insurance claims

After CARCO completes an inspection, they forward a copy of the pre-inspection report to your insurance company.

Where to Get a CARCO Inspection

CARCO maintains a network of inspection sites across four states. You can find CARCO inspection sites at gas stations, tire stores, car dealerships, glass repair centers, and similar locations.

Four states use CARCO to limit insurance fraud, including New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Florida. You can find CARCO inspection centers in various locations across these states.

You can get a CARCO inspection at locations like:

  • Glass repair stores
  • Tire stores
  • Gasoline service stations
  • Car dealerships
  • Muffler shops
  • Other locations and businesses across New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Florida

What’s Covered in a CARCO Inspection?

During a CARCO pre-insurance inspection, a technician aims to reduce the risk of fraud by analyzing a vehicle’s condition. The goal is to identify any undisclosed changes or damages to the vehicle to prevent unsafe vehicles from driving on public roads or making fraudulent insurance claims.

A typical CARCO pre-insurance inspection includes the following:

  • Detailed photographs of the vehicle (not taken in Florida)
  • Odometer reading
  • Notes on the overall condition of the vehicle, including any physical or structural damage
  • Notes on options and accessories

How Long Does a CARCO Pre-Insurance Inspection Take?

A CARCO pre-insurance inspection takes around 15 minutes at most locations.

Most locations allow you to make an appointment ahead of time.

How to Get a Pre-Insurance Inspection Exemption

You may be able to avoid a CARCO pre-insurance inspection if you qualify for an exemption. Some drivers are not required to obtain a CARCO pre-insurance inspection, for example.

If you just purchased or leased a new vehicle, for example, then you may not need to obtain a pre-insurance inspection. However, your insurer may require your bill of sale, copies of window stickers, dealer’s invoices, complete details of the vehicle’s options and accessories, and other information to verify the exemption.

You may also qualify for an exemption if you are switching to a new car insurance company and already had physical damage coverage from your previous company. In this situation, your new insurance company will check the declarations page of your old insurance policy, and you should qualify for an exemption.

If you have an older vehicle, then you may not qualify for an exemption even if switching to a new insurance company from an old company. Many insurers require a pre-insurance inspection on older vehicles regardless of your previous insurance policy.

Which States Require Pre-Insurance Inspections?

Most states do not require drivers to complete a pre-insurance inspection to receive physical damage coverage. However, five states require pre-insurance inspections, including:

  • Florida
  • Massachusetts
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Rhode Island

CARCO maintains automobile inspection sites in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Florida. If you require a pre-insurance inspection in Rhode Island, then you can visit a non-CARCO pre-insurance inspection site. Or, you can go to a neighboring state such as Massachusetts.

States have different pre-insurance inspection requirements. You must complete a per-insurance inspection within five to 35 days of purchasing a new vehicle. If you do not complete your pre-insurance inspection within the required timeframe, your insurance company could drop physical damage coverage.

What to Bring to a CARCO Inspection

Typically, you only need to bring the following items to your CARCO inspection:

  • The name of your insurer
  • Your vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • Vehicle registration (only required in Florida)

If you don’t know your VIN, that’s okay: the technician will photograph it during the inspection process (it’s on the bottom of the driver’s side of the front windshield).

CARCO Mobile App & Online Inspections

CARCO now offers a mobile app for iOS and Android. This mobile app allows you to submit vehicle-related information and photographs online as part of the pre-inspection process.

CARCO claims to use AI-powered technology to reduce instances of fraud. CARCO’s AI scans photos of your vehicle to identify undisclosed damage.

The CARCO app also has a damaged windshield inspection function. CARCO’s AI checks images of your windshield for undisclosed damage, and this damage could play a role in future insurance claims.

Today, the CARCO app functions as a secondary type of pre-insurance inspection. Most states still require you to visit a CARCO inspection site in-person with your vehicle to complete an inspection.

Final Word on CARCO Inspections

CARCO is America’s largest pre-insurance inspection services provider.

Suppose you live in Massachusetts, Florida, New Jersey, New York, or Rhode Island. In that case, you may need to complete a pre-insurance inspection before you receive physical damage insurance coverage (including collision and comprehensive coverage) on your vehicle.

You can complete a CARCO pre-insurance inspection at a local automotive service center. CARCO offers inspections at certain gas stations, tire shops, service centers, dealerships, and other locations, for example. A typical CARCO inspection takes around 15 minutes.

James Shaffer
James Shaffer James Shaffer is a writer for InsurancePanda.com and a well-seasoned auto insurance industry veteran. He has a deep knowledge of insurance rules and regulations and is passionate about helping drivers save money on auto insurance. He is responsible for researching and writing about anything auto insurance-related. He holds a bachelor's degree from Bentley University and his work has been quoted by NBC News, CNN, and The Washington Post.
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