Do Car Insurance and Registration Addresses Have to Match?
Last Updated on November 20, 2020
In the United States, when you buy a vehicle, you need to register it and insure it. Every state requires cars to be registered at its transportation agency or division of motor vehicles. All states except for one, New Hampshire, require every car to have at least some form of auto insurance coverage.
When you register your vehicle and buy insurance coverage for it, you’ll need to provide a lot of information about yourself and the car you are driving. One piece of information is your address. Do you need to have a matching address on your registration for a vehicle and your insurance for it? The answer to this question is – it depends. Usually, state law doesn’t require the addresses to match, but sometimes insurance companies require them to match. For convenience’s sake, however, it’s recommended that the addresses do match.
We hope to dispel some of the confusion regarding matching insurance and registration addresses below. Continue reading to learn everything you need to know about car insurance and vehicle registration addresses and whether or not they need to match.
Table of Contents:
- Responsibilities of Vehicle Owners
- Do My Registration and Car Insurance Address Need to Match?
- Why You Might Have Two Separate Addresses Listed on Your Auto Insurance
- Choosing the Right Amount of Insurance
- Consequences for Having Inadequate Insurance Coverage
- Registration and Insurance Addresses Should Typically Match
Responsibilities of Vehicle Owners
As someone who owns a car, it’s essential to adhere to state rules and regulations when you register it before driving it on public roads. Not doing so could put you on the wrong side of the law and cause many problems in the future. Once you register your vehicle, you are given a registration plate (a license plate), which helps authorities easily identify vehicle registration information – including who the owner is.
Besides registering your vehicle, you’ll need to buy insurance. Simply buying insurance isn’t enough to ensure that you won’t be penalized or fined. Each state has minimum requirements, so your policy has to meet or exceed those conditions.
If your policy doesn’t meet these bare minimums, you could be in trouble if you’re pulled over by the police, get into an accident without enough coverage, or if you’re discovered by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
Based on information from the Insurance Information Institute, almost 13% of drivers do not have insurance and thus risk penalties.
Do My Registration and Car Insurance Address Need to Match?
Some of the most common questions about this topic are whether the addresses need to match on insurance and registration, how the DMV goes through verifying the information, and whether the insurance company communicates with the DMV.
The answer is complicated since it depends on the state you reside in. In some areas, there are electronic verification systems that will check whether you have coverage in real-time. If you happen to live in one of those states, it’s imperative to always maintain adequate insurance coverage on your vehicle and updated information on your policy. If your coverage lapses even by a minute, and you are pulled over, police officers will be able to immediately see that you do not have coverage.
This system matches registration documents with auto policies using the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) as well as the name of the owner. If there are multiple owners, each of them needs to be listed on the insurance. You don’t need to be named a driver but as insured by the policy. If the names listed aren’t a match, it could lead to a fine.
As to whether you can register the car at a different address, the answer is a little hazy. It is not a legal requirement to have the same address for your auto insurance identification card as your registration, but the DMV recommends that you do so for convenience. Some insurance companies might even require that policy address and registration address match in order to write your coverage.
It’s also important to know that if you move or otherwise change residences, you usually have 10 days to change the address on any vehicle with active registration. Even if the address remains the same on the insurance, you won’t be fined for having different addresses listed.
Each state has its own rules regarding registered addresses on car insurance. While as a whole, most states don’t require the two to match, that may not be the case in every situation. As long as the insurance coverage is valid, the addresses don’t need to match. Regardless, for convenience purposes, it’s a good idea to just change the address on both pieces of information when you relocate to a new address.
Why You Might Have Two Separate Addresses Listed on Your Auto Insurance
An auto insurance policy is a particular document that includes information about you and your insurance coverage. Some people don’t know this, but you can have two addresses associated with your policy. Your actual car insurance address can be separate from your home address.
The address that you see on your auto insurance identification cards is where all of the documents and notices about your insurance will be sent. This is sometimes known as the billing address. The second address, which isn’t going to be listed on the documents in your possession, lists the address where you store (or park) your vehicle. This same address showing where the car is kept is what is used to determine your insurance rates.
At this point, you might be wondering whether this address affects your insurance, and it does. The location where you live will have a significant effect on your insurance policy rates. In fact, some cities can have significantly different rates between ZIP codes.
The reason different ZIP codes have different insurance rates is that certain areas have higher rates of crime, vandalism, break-ins, accidents, theft, and natural disasters than others. Urban areas, for example, tend to have cheaper insurance rates than rural areas.
Because different ZIP codes have cheaper auto insurance rates, some people try to cheat the system by claiming they live at a different address than they actually do. Many New York City residents, for example, illegally use the address of a relative in the suburbs to get cheaper insurance rates. You also might see a college grad, who just moved to a big city for his first job, claim that he still lives at his parents’ house in the suburbs in order to get cheaper rates. These are examples of insurance fraud and could lead to claim denial or worse.
Choosing the Right Amount of Insurance
There are not many states where people can drive a car without having insurance. As stated above, New Hampshire is one of them. Virginia, technically speaking, is another. Most of the time, however, you will be required to have third-party liability coverage at a minimum. This means that if you end up causing an accident, the insurance will cover the other party in the accident. However, bodily injury or property damage to yourself isn’t going to be covered. For that, you’ll need collision coverage.
The level of insurance you need is determined by the state you live in. Most states require you to have insurance on your vehicle and in most cases that will include coverage for bodily injury and property damage. Some states also require uninsured motorist coverage and personal injury protection coverage. The other coverage options, including comprehensive coverage, full glass coverage, roadside assistance coverage, etc. are optional unless explicitly required by your state.
Consequences for Having Inadequate Insurance Coverage
When you register your car in preparation for getting license plates, you’re agreeing to comply with insurance requirements and other laws under your state’s vehicle code. If you avoid purchasing insurance or do not keep it up to date, there are several penalties that can be levied on you. Some include citations, license suspension, court appearances, and jail time.
All of these penalties make it a bad idea to drive without having insurance. If you get caught doing it, you could end up paying more than you would have for the policy and may even end up with jail time. If you get into an accident without insurance, you could be facing even harsher repercussions.
It’s also a good idea to check your insurance policy for any mistakes when it renews. This is to make sure your ID cards don’t get sent to the wrong address, you actually have the coverage you think you have, etc. You can usually view your policy online (on your insurer’s website or mobile app) to ensure all of the information on your policy is correct and up-to-date.
Registration and Insurance Addresses Should Typically Match
You should do your best to make sure your vehicle’s registration address and insurance address match. This is for convenience purposes only and is usually not required by law. There are many valid reasons why the address on your insurance policy might not match the address on your registration. One of these is that your billing address is different than the address where you park your vehicle. To make things easier if you are pulled over by police officers, however, it’s best to keep these addresses the same – to minimize confusion.
Now you know more about your insurance, including whether it’s required to have matching addresses on your auto insurance policy and your registration. You also have information about what kind of insurance is required in most states so you can make sure you’re handling things correctly. Keep this in mind the next time you need to search for new auto insurance!