Do I need proof of insurance to register a car?

48 out of 50 states have minimum liability requirements that you must meet to register and drive your car. Driving without auto insurance could result in fines up to $5,000.

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Mathew B. Sims is Editor-in-Chief and has authored, edited, and contributed to several books. He has been working in the insurance industry ensuring content is accurate for consumers who are searching for the best policies and rates...

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years (BBB A+). He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance...

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Reviewed byDaniel Walker
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UPDATED: Apr 23, 2020

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Things to Remember...
  • Most states require insurance prior to registering a vehicle
  • Operating a vehicle without a minimum amount of insurance is illegal
  • An insurance comparison tool can help you quickly find insurance for your new vehicle

If you have recently purchased a vehicle from a dealer or a private individual, you will need proof of insurance in order to register the vehicle with your local DMV in most states.

Proof of insurance can also be dependent on the method in which you register your vehicle. Registering in person almost always means that you will need to show proof of insurance to the DMV employee handling your registration.

Registering your new car online may not require entering proof of insurance, but you should still use a comparison tool to find and purchase an insurance policy prior to driving the vehicle.

Start comparing car insurance rates now by using our FREE tool above!

DMV Registration Requirements

Different DMVs require different forms for registering your vehicle.

For example, Nevada requires an insurance card, an Electronic Dealer Report of Sale or the title, a valid emissions inspection, an application for the registration and a method of payment.

If the state does require insurance prior to registering a vehicle, you will need your insurance card or proof of insurance along with the other requirements.

For states that do not require proof of insurance prior to registration or proof of insurance while registering online, like Indiana, you will need the title for the vehicle, your driver’s license, and a method of payment for the registration fees.

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Proof of Insurance Time Limits

If the state did not require proof of insurance when you registered your vehicle or you registered your vehicle online, you have between 30 and 45 days to provide the DMV with proof of your insurance policy.

If you fail to provide proof of insurance, your vehicle registration, and driver’s license could be suspended.

To avoid fines, penalties, and the suspension of your driver’s license, you can use an insurance comparison quote tool to quickly locate a policy for your new or new to you vehicle.

Registration Requirements for a Vehicle Purchased at a Dealership

When you purchase a vehicle from a dealership, the dealership will usually handle title and registration requirements for you, and they will give you a temporary plate that is typically valid for 30 days. In this instance, you would not need to go to the DMV to title or register the car.

However, you will need to plate the car prior to the expiration of the temporary license plate. It is also in your best interest to acquire insurance before you drive the car off the dealer lot.

If you are caught driving a vehicle without insurance, you could be forced to pay fines, and your vehicle registration could be canceled. Some states, like Missouri, will even suspend your driver’s license.

To avoid negative consequences, you can use an insurance comparison tool to find and purchase an auto insurance policy prior to driving the vehicle off the dealer lot.

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Registration Requirements for a Vehicle Purchased from an Individual

If you purchase a vehicle from a private individual, you will need to title and register the vehicle yourself. In general, the DMV will need proof that you are the owner of the car.

In most states, this can be accomplished by providing the bill of sale and/or the original title showing where the previous owner signed the vehicle over to you.

You will need proof of the purchase price, and you will need to show proof of insurance.

Proof of insurance can be acquired by using a comparison tool to find and purchase an insurance policy.

Once you have your policy, you should be able to print off proof of your insurance purchase.

To ensure you have all of the documents required to register your vehicle, you should check with your local DMV.

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Registering a Vehicle on Behalf of the Car Owner

Some states, like New York, will allow you to register a vehicle on behalf of the owner. In these states, you will need to show your driver’s license as well as the license of the owner of the vehicle.

The DMV will need to see the title of the vehicle, proof of the sale and proof of insurance. The person registering the vehicle will also need to fill out all the applicable forms.

When you purchase a new car, it is in your best interest to purchase insurance prior to driving the car whether or not the state you reside in requires proof of insurance when registering the vehicle.

Most insurance agents will provide you with an insurance policy as long as you have the required information for the vehicle, including the VIN, make, model and year.

To help you acquire your new insurance policy, you should find an insurance comparison tool so that you can compare multiple policies from various insurance providers at the same time.

Start comparing auto insurance rates now by entering your zip code in our FREE tool below!

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