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. Below, we’re answering every question you have about insuring your car and vehicle registration.

What Car Insurance Do You Need to Register a Car?

Do You Need Car Insurance to Register a Car?Most 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 States Require Proof of Insurance Prior to Registration?

View the table below to see when each state requires proof of insurance and whether or not you can renew registration online.

StateWhen Is Proof of Insurance Required?Do They Allow Online Registration Renewals?
AlabamaBefore RegistrationYes (Certain Counties)
AlaskaBefore RegistrationYes
ArizonaBefore DrivingYes
ArkansasBefore RegistrationYes
CaliforniaBefore RegistrationYes
ColoradoBefore RegistrationYes
ConnecticutBefore RegistrationYes
DelawareBefore RegistrationNo
FloridaBefore RegistrationYes
GeorgiaBefore RegistrationYes (Certain Counties)
HawaiiBefore RegistrationYes
IdahoBefore RegistrationYes
IllinoisBefore RegistrationYes
IndianaBefore RegistrationYes
IowaBefore RegistrationYes
KansasBefore RegistrationYes
KentuckyBefore RegistrationYes
LouisianaBefore RegistrationYes
MaineBefore RegistrationYes (Certain Towns)
MarylandBefore RegistrationYes
MassachusettsBefore RegistrationYes
MichiganBefore RegistrationYes
MinnesotaBefore RegistrationYes
MississippiBefore Driving*Yes (Certain Counties)
MissouriBefore RegistrationYes
MontanaBefore RegistrationYes
NebraskaBefore RegistrationYes
NevadaBefore RegistrationYes
New HampshireNot Required*Yes (Certain Towns)
New JerseyBefore RegistrationYes
New MexicoBefore RegistrationYes
New YorkBefore RegistrationYes
North CarolinaBefore RegistrationYes
North DakotaBefore DrivingYes
OhioBefore RegistrationYes
OklahomaBefore RegistrationYes
OregonBefore RegistrationYes
PennsylvaniaBefore RegistrationYes
Rhode IslandBefore RegistrationYes
South CarolinaBefore RegistrationYes
South DakotaBefore RegistrationYes
TennesseeBefore DrivingYes (Certain Counties)
TexasBefore RegistrationYes
UtahBefore RegistrationYes
VermontBefore RegistrationYes
VirginiaBefore Registration*Yes
WashingtonBefore DrivingYes
Washington, D.C.Before RegistrationYes
West VirginiaBefore RegistrationYes
WisconsinBefore DrivingYes
WyomingBefore RegistrationYes (Certain Counties)
* see "Exceptions" below

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

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

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. Another option is to simply view the minimum insurance requirements online.

Below, we have compiled the most recent state auto insurance requirements for you. If you see the liability requirements presented in a three number format, i.e. 25/50/25, please know that these numbers are the coverage limits.

The first number, “25,” means $25,000 of bodily injury coverage per person. The second number, “50,” means $50,000 of bodily injury coverage per accident. The third number, “25,” means $25,000 of property damage coverage.

StateRequirements
AlabamaLiability: 25/50/25
AlaskaLiability: 50/100/25
ArizonaLiability: 15/30/10
ArkansasLiability: 25/50/25
CaliforniaLiability: 15/30/5
ColoradoLiability: 25/50/15
ConnecticutLiability: 25/50/25
UM/UIM BI: 20/40
DelawareLiability: 25/50/10
PIP: 15/30
District of ColumbiaLiability: 25/50/10
UM BI: 25/50
UMPD: $5,000
FloridaLiability: 10/20/10
PIP: $10,000
BI liability not required by Florida but many insurers require 10/20
GeorgiaLiability: 25/50/25
HawaiiLiability: 20/40/10
PIP or PPO: $10,000
IdahoLiability: 25/50/15
IllinoisLiability: 25/50/20
UM BI: 25/50
IndianaLiability: 25/50/25
IowaLiability: 20/40/15
KansasLiability: 25/50/25
UM/UIM BI: 25/50
PIP: $4,500 medical/$900 work loss
KentuckyLiability: 25/50/25
PIP: $10,000
LouisianaLiability: 15/30/25
MaineLiability: 50/100/25
UM/UIM BI: 50/100
Medical payments: $2,000
MarylandLiability: 30/60/15
UM/UIM BI: 30/60
UMPD: $15,000
PIP $2,500
MassachusettsLiability: 20/40/5
UM/UIM BI: 20/40
PIP: $8,000
MichiganLiability: 20/40/10
PIP: Medical and work loss
PPI: $1,000,000
MinnesotaLiability: 30/60/10
UM/UIM BI: 25/50
PIP: $40,000
MississippiLiability: 25/50/25
MissouriLiability: 25/50/10
UM BI: 25/50
MontanaLiability: 25/50/20
NebraskaLiability: 25/50/25
UM/UIM BI: 25/50
NevadaLiability: 25/50/20
New HampshireLiability: 25/50/25
UM/UIM BI: 25/50
Medical payments: $1,000
*Insurance not required in NH
New JerseyLiability: 15/30/5
UM/UIM BI: 15/30
UMPD: $5,000
PIP: $15,000
New MexicoLiability: 25/50/10
New YorkLiability: 25/50/10
UM BI: 25/50
PIP: $50,000
North CarolinaLiability: 30/60/25
UM BI: 30/60
UMPD: $25,000
North DakotaLiability: 25/50/25
UM/UIM BI: 25/50
PIP: $30,000
OhioLiability: 25/50/25
OklahomaLiability: 25/50/25
OregonLiability: 25/50/20
UM BI: 25/50
PIP: $15,000
PennsylvaniaLiability: 15/30/5
First party benefits (PIP): $5,000
Rhode IslandLiability: 25/50/25
South CarolinaLiability: 25/50/25
UM BI: 25/50
UMPD: $25,000
South DakotaLiability: 25/50/25
UM/UIM BI: 25/50
TennesseeLiability: 25/50/15
TexasLiability: 30/60/25
UtahLiability: 25/65/15
PIP: $3,000
VermontLiability: 25/50/10
UM/UIM BI: 50/100
UMPD: $10,000
VirginiaLiability: 25/50/20
UM/UIM BI: 25/50
UMPD: $20,000
WashingtonLiability: 25/50/10
West VirginiaLiability: 25/50/25
UM BI: 25/50
UMPD: $25,000
WisconsinLiability: 25/50/10
UM BI: 25/50
WyomingLiability: 25/50/20
GuideBI liability: Bodily injury liability
PIP: Personal injury protection
UM: Uninsured motorist coverage
UIM: Underinsured motorist coverage
UM BI: Uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage
UMPD: Uninsured motorist property damage coverage
PPI: Property protection insurance (MI)

Final Word – Do You Need Insurance to Register Your Vehicle?

Generally speaking, you do need auto insurance coverage before registering your vehicle at your state’s DMV/RMV. There are a few exceptions to this rule, most notably New Hampshire, which does not require auto insurance coverage to begin with. More often than not, however, you will need to purchase auto insurance coverage prior to registering your vehicle.

To make sure you meet your state’s auto insurance requirements, speak to an insurance agent today. Any licensed insurance carrier in your state will be able to equip you with an insurance policy that allows you to register your vehicle hassle-free.

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