Do You Need Car Insurance to Register a Car?

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Most states require that you have a minimum amount of car insurance in order to legally operate a vehicle in the state. But do you need car insurance to register a car? In most states, the answer is yes. However, different states have different requirements, and there are a few exceptions.

What Car Insurance Do You Need to Register a Car?

needed car insurance to register carMost states have minimum requirements for liability car insurance. You must have car insurance coverage up to the state-required minimum coverage amounts in the case that you are at-fault in an auto accident. In the states that have this requirement, you will have to show proof of insurance to register your vehicle.

Some states also require you to have uninsured motorist coverage on your vehicle. Uninsured motorist coverage covers your damages and medical expenses in the case that the person at-fault in the accident does not have insurance. This type of coverage also comes into play if there is a hit and run and the at-fault driver cannot be found.

No state requires you to have full coverage car insurance to register your vehicle. Comprehensive and collision coverage are optional types of car insurance that are not mandated by the state. However, your lienholder could require you to have full coverage on your vehicle.

What Do I Need to Bring With Me to Register My Car?

You will need to bring proof of insurance with you to register your car in most states. Proof of insurance should be an insurance identification card. Some states will also allow you to bring in a print out showing that you are covered by insurance. You will need to show the DMV representative your proof of insurance, as well as other required documents such as title, inspection, bill of sale, and tax receipt before they will issue you license plates for your car.

What are the Exceptions?

There are several states that do not require you to show proof of car insurance to register your car. In most of these states, there is still a requirement for financial responsibility that has to be met before you can register your vehicle if you aren’t going to have car insurance.


Mississippi requires you to have car insurance to operate your vehicle, but they do not require that you show this proof when you register your car. However, if you register your car without car insurance and are pulled over or have an accident without car insurance you will pay stiff penalties and could lose your driver’s license.

New Hampshire

New Hampshire does not have a minimum car insurance requirement. However, you do have to show proof of financial responsibility when you register your vehicle. If you are unable to prove that you are financially capable of covering damages and medical expenses in the case of an auto accident, this means that you will need to have car insurance when you register and operate your vehicle.


Virginia also does not have a minimum car insurance requirement. However, if you want to operate a vehicle in Virginia without car insurance you will have to pay a $500 fee at the time of vehicle registration and annually thereafter. This fee is not insurance. If you have an accident and you are at-fault, you will still be responsible for the full amount of the damages and medical expenses related to the car wreck.

Can I Cancel Insurance After Registering My Car?

It is not a good idea to cancel your car insurance or allow it to lapse after you register your vehicle. If you are caught driving without car insurance there are hefty penalties and fines that will be charged to you. Most states that have a minimum required car insurance law will suspend or revoke your driver’s license or revoke your car registration if you are found to not have car insurance.

You should not bank on the state not knowing you allowed your car insurance to lapse. Most states have methods in place to monitor car insurance coverage. If your coverage lapses, even if you are not pulled over or have an accident, the state will find out. Once they do, you could have your registration for your vehicle canceled, have to pay fines, and risk your driver’s license.

Minimum Insurance Requirements

Each state has its own required minimum coverage amounts for registering and operating a vehicle in that state. It is important that if you move to a new state you get auto insurance coverage in that state that meets the new state’s legal requirements. In most cases, you cannot simply continue to use your old coverage when you move to a new state.

If you have moved to a new state and are unsure of the minimum insurance requirements, you can contact your local Department of Motor Vehicles or DMV to discover what the requirements are. You can also usually get this information from local car insurance companies.

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