Car Insurance: Can’t Find My Registration

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Things to remember...

  • Car insurance coverage is a general requirement while registering your vehicle in most states
  • Most states give a maximum of 15 days from the date of purchase to register your car
  • If you move to another state for more than a few months (either as a worker or a student), you require getting new registration and insurance coverage for the new state.

Most of the states in U.S. require you to provide a proof of insurance and registration, as well as driver’s license upon request.

Therefore, you may have a big problem driving if you do not have a proof of vehicle registration. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has information of the registered vehicles in their database and they would quickly retrieve them when the need arises.

DMV works with the police in various police and authorities to identify the people with a suspended or an expired registration of the plates.

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Car Registration in a Different State


A proof of auto insurance coverage during vehicle registration varies from one state to another. Some states require car owners to renew their vehicle registration yearly while others go for several years before renewal.

The requirements for vehicle registration are different in various insurance companies following their differences in underwriting their insurance policies.

Some states do not recognize the insurance covers from another state, therefore, you will be required to acquire a different one upon arrival.

Why register your vehicle?

Some insurance companies require you to provide car registration details while purchasing their policies. Registration of vehicles is a general requirement of both the state and some insurance companies.

Some of the reasons why insurance companies require you to be registered include:

  • Insurable interests – they want to ensure that the owners would suffer some losses if there were damages or theft of their car.
  • It is a legal requirement – some states require registration of all cars except for the project cars or the ones on storage. Mandatory registration rules are in some states and not in all of them.
  • Proof that the car has been in the state for ten months – an insurance company would only insure a car that has been in the state for at least ten months. Car registration documents would play a major role in identifying the same.

Insurance Coverage or Car Registration


After buying a new car, most people have a problem deciding on whether to get an insurance cover or the car registration first. DMV tied the two together to reduce the number of uninsured drivers using the roads.

You need to produce a proof of insurance during registration, either in the form of a printout or an insurance card. You may opt to go for a temporary insurance card in case there is urgency in the car registration.

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Driving an unregistered vehicle as well as driving a car with an expired registration is a legal offense in the United States.

Traffic laws treat the two cases differently where the penalties for driving an expired registration go high with the increase on the lapse period since the registration expired.

In some states, the drivers have a maximum period of three months to renew their registration after which DMV revokes the ownership of the plate number. Some states allow up to 15 days registering a used/new car from the date of purchase in your residential state.

On moving to another state, the department of motor vehicle expects you to register your vehicle at the respective county within 30 days.

Insurance Coverage for Unregistered Cars/ Those without Proof of Insurance

Car insurance and registration are two different entities. An insurance cover is a contract between you and your insurance provider while the department of motor vehicles governs the car registration process.

If you are involved in an accident where you were covered but not registered, the insurance company pays for the claims though the legal authorities that may also give you a ticket for driving an unregistered vehicle.

Students and workers in other states also require car registrations in the state that they would be staying.

Working or Studying in a Different State


If you are working in a different state, own a home in another state, or staying in a different state for more than a few months, you become its resident.

Therefore, DMV requires you to get insurance and registration of the state within a stipulated period depending on where you are visiting.

The students visiting a different state for studies use their parent’s cars, which have the registration in their names. In this case, the parents may arrange to transfer the registration and insurance details to their children in different ways including:

  • The state allows registration of both the parents and the children where the parents are the primary owners. In this case, the parents remain as the primary policyholders and the children the secondary ones.
  • The state may allow the registration to stay on the parents regardless of the place of residence. The insurance companies include the children as the listed drivers and the parents the primary drivers.
  • DMV registers both the parents and the children with the student now as the primary driver and registered owner.
  • Parents can transfer ownership to the children as a gift or sale, and they become the sole owners of the vehicles. In this case, they will also be the only policyholders. It is the simplest option to have in case nothing is tying the parents to the car.

Several instances may lead to the suspension of your vehicle due to car insurance related problems, failure to pay taxes, and parking tickets, among others. Therefore, it is important to follow the set traffic laws to avoid penalties and risk losing your plate number.

Insurance related problems that would lead to suspension of car registrations include cancellation of car insurance policy, failure to provide proof of insurance coverage upon request, and fraudulent insurance policy.

To get the best car insurance covers at affordable rates, get as many online quotes as you can and make comparisons. Use our free rate tool today to find the best price for the coverage you need.

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