Is car insurance valid if registration and safety expire?
There are many components to keeping a vehicle on the road — from regular maintenance and oil changes to important paperwork and financial documentation like vehicle insurance, a car’s safety inspection, and annual registration. All of these things are taken into account when considering if car insurance is valid, and whether or not an insurance policy premium will increase. Enter your ZIP code into our ZIP code search and compare car insurance companies instantly for FREE!
The Impact of Expired Safety Checks on Car Insurance
Perhaps the most minor offense one can commit (in the eyes of the law) when taking care of their vehicle is to let their vehicle’s safety inspection lapse. These inspections are currently required on a regular basis (typically anualy) in eighteen states, while Alabama and Maryland require them only when buying, selling, or transferring the vehicle. Find affordable car insurance for FREE with our ZIP code search! Enter your ZIP code and save money today!
In most states, proof of a current inspection is indicated by a sticker on one of the vehicle’s windows, and will be checked by police officers in the event of a moving violation. That means that a driver who gets pulled over for speeding can have their inspection checked, as well as their proof of insurance and their current registration.
If an inspection has lapsed, the offense is generally considered a minor violation and not a moving violation. This is important, as moving violations result in “points” on a driver’s license and will ultimately lead to increased premiums. However, this minor violation rarely has an impact on premiums of the validity of one’s insurance policy.
It’s important to keep a vehicle’s safety inspection current, and not make a habit of getting pulled over for moving or non-moving violations. While the best car insurance companies will forgive one lapsed safety check, they will be on the lookout for patterns that indicate a lack of maintenance, a tendency toward moving violations, or other things that may increase the risk a driver presents.
Expired Vehicle Registrations and Insurance Policies
All fifty states require a vehicle to be registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles in the state of the primary owner’s residence, and this registration is generally required to be renewed on an annual basis. It is illegal to drive a vehicle that lacks a current and valid registration, and in the event of a moving violation, this may lead to further complications.
Most states differentiate between a recently expired registration and one that has been expired for a longer period of time. The cut-off for a “recently expired” registration is generally three or six months, and results in a warning and a far lesser fine. This is generally not considered a moving violation and will not appear on someone’s driving record. Its effect on insurance premiums and validity will be minimal, if any.
After three or six months, the offense is considered more severe — in fact, most states consider driving a vehicle with a long-expired registration to be considered a criminal act. This is also considered a moving violation and can result in points on a driver’s license as well as tarnishing their driving record. This will likely result in a stiff hike in premiums.
However, if a vehicle’s insurance is fully paid and up-to-date, the car’s insurance is still considered valid in most cases that do not involve criminal activity.
Lack of Registration Versus Lack of Proof
There is also an important distinction to be made between a driver whose vehicle has lapsed in registration, and a driver who simply forgot to place their proof of registration in their car in the event of a traffic stop or emergency.
While it is considered a minor violation to have a recently-lapsed registration, drivers who lack sufficient proof of a current registration are generally given a verbal or written warning and reminded to place the document in their car for future use. This hardly ever goes on one’s driving record and has no effect on insurance premiums or the validity of an existing insurance policy.
Insurance Polices, Expired Registrations, and Criminal Activity
When comparison shopping for insurance policies in your state, it’s important to pay attention to the fine print that determines when an insurance policy is valid or invalid, and what constitutes an invalidation of the policy. Many insurance companies will cover vehicles with a lapsed registration or safety inspection up to a point, but draw the line at criminal activity. Check car insurance rates by state and find the best insurance plans.
That criminal activity is defined by the state in which a vehicle is registered, driven and insured; some states consider it a crime to drive a vehicle whose registration has been expired for more than six months. Most drivers who have not renewed an annual registration for more than half a year are presumed to be subverting the system, leading to criminal complications.
In this event, an insurance company may well decide to cancel a policy. Additionally, if a criminal act was committed during an accident or other emergency, they may decide to retroactively cancel the policy and not cover any losses, damages or expenses incurred in that accident.
For this reason, the fine print of each company’s car insurance policy is just as important as the monthly premium amount, level of coverage, and special discounts. Always know what a car insurance company requires of its drivers to avoid unpleasant surprises during an emergency or even a routine traffic stop.
Keep Finding the Best Deals
Car insurance companies are in the business of assessing the risk posed by those whom they insure. For this reason, it’s good to be diligent about vehicle maintenance, registration, and required safety inspections. These are truly minor aspects of vehicle ownership that can play a major role in its cost. Save money and reduce your cost by using our FREE ZIP code search! Enter your ZIP code and find cheap car insurance instantly!
Insurance policies in good standing will cover non-criminal drivers who simply forgot to renew their registration or get their vehicle inspected, but a pattern of these problems may result in a higher premium. Don’t lose any more money on car insurance! Enter your ZIP code into our FREE search and find low cost car insurance!