Does your car insurance and registration address have to match?

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Things to remember...
  • You don’t have to be the person who holds the title of a car to be the registered owner
  • If you’re leasing a vehicle, the lender or private owner will be on the title and you will be on the registration
  • The person who is named on the registration is the person responsible for paying for renewals, taxes, and fines
  • Most motor vehicle agencies will ask for a physical mailing address for your registration to ensure you’re a resident
  • While you can use a PO box for mailing purposes on your insurance, you do have to provide a physical address as well

If you’re ever stopped for a law enforcement officer for speeding or running a red light, one of the first things the officer is going to ask you for is your license, registration, and proof of insurance. It’s a pretty standard request that you’ve never really questioned because you’ve been taught to comply with these orders since you took your first driver’s education course.

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Having all of the documentation that you need to prove you’re the owner of the vehicle and that you’re driving legally isn’t always enough. You need to have your registration, but you also need that registration to match the name on your insurance card if you don’t want any further questioning. If the name and even the address is off, it could be a major red flag that could land you in court or worse:

Why does anyone need to register their car?

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If you want to be a resident of a state, you have to provide documentation that shows that you live then and who you are. That’s part of the process of obtaining a state-issued government ID so that you can prove your identity, apply for jobs, apply for loans, and live a normal life. In some states, it’s illegal to even be a passenger in a vehicle without having your ID.

Just like a person needs an ID to identify themselves, a vehicle needs an ID to identify who owns it. The vehicle isn’t a legal entity that can be sued, so someone has to take on the liability when the object causes damage to someone or something. In almost all states, it’s the registered owner’s legal duty to pay for damages when someone in their car is negligent.

By requiring cars to be registered in the name of a person or business, a legal entity is taking ownership of the car and accountability whenever there’s a loss or a violation where a fine must be paid. That’s why all private passenger vehicles, no matter if they are new or old, have to be registered before they can be tagged to be on public roadways.

Why do you need to provide an address for your registration?

You have to give your name, your date of birth, and your social security number and proof that you have a legal interest int he vehicle before you can register it. The proof will be either a bill of sale, a title signed over to you, or financing documentation showing you’re the borrower. Without the proper documentation, the DMV won’t issue you a registration your name.

Not only do you have to show that you’re who you say you are and that you have the right to claim residency in the state, you also have to give an address.

In most states, you have the option to give two separate addresses on the application. That’s only if you live away from where you want to receive mail.

You can usually put a PO box or another mailing address where you want to receive notifications and another address that represents where you reside.

On all of your documents, including your registration, your mailing address is the one that will be printed on your paperwork. If you move, you have to notify the DMV within 10 days or you’re not complying with the rules.

How do the addresses work on your auto insurance policy?

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There might be states where the only type of address that you can give for mailing or for location purposes is a physical one. Regardless of what the registration rules are in the state, you’re allowed to use two separate addresses on all auto insurance policies because each address will be used differently.

The first address that you’ll see on all of your insurance documents is your mailing address. This is where the documents are sent and where envelopes are addressed to. You can put an address in any state in this line as long as this is where you’ll get your mail. The mailing address won’t impact your rates.

The second address on your policy that you won’t see on every document is your physical address. Sometimes, this is the address where you reside day in and day out. Other times, this is a physical address to a garage where the vehicle is parked each night. The address that you put here is where your vehicle sits when it’s not being driven. This is the one that needs to be in the state where it’s insured and that will impact your rates.

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What does your address have to do with your rates?

Where your car is parked might just be a matter of convenience for you but it’s a big deal to the insurer. The company has to determine if you’re going to be more likely to file a claim for the coverage that you have than the average person. One of the dozens of different factors considered is your address. Here’s why your address is so important:

  • Because some zip codes have a higher rate of accidents than others
  • Because expensive cars are more likely to be in certain zip codes
  • Because the rate of vandalism and property crime is higher in some areas

Does your physical address need to match on your insurance and registration?

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If you put your physical address on your registration, you should be prepared to put that same address on your auto insurance as well. The last thing any consumer wants to do is pay for a product just to be treated as if they don’t have it when it comes time to verify coverage. This is just what could happen if the right information doesn’t match.

Your name should always match on both the named insured line and the registered owner line. If you register a car in your name and then insure it in your boyfriend’s name, the DMV won’t be able to find coverage that can be verified in your name. When you don’t have coverage in your name and at your address then it could cause issues in many states with electronic verification systems.

How is insurance electronically verified?

Auto insurance is something that has to be verified. In the past, when there wasn’t any type of electronic system in place, the DMV used a process where they would randomly request insurance information from vehicle owners. That didn’t do much good either because the owner could provide a falsified document. That’s why uninsured driver rates were so high.

Now the rates are on the decline because of new verification procedures. Instead of sending out a postcard asking for you to verify you had coverage on a certain date, the state has this real-time system where they can see if you have active insurance.

To guarantee the system is updated, laws have been passed requiring insurers to notify the DMV electronically as soon as a policy cancels. The notification also has to show the date the coverage ended.

Penalties for No Insurance

You will have to pay the penalties for having no insurance if the system can’t verify your coverage because of your name and address.

You could be paying your premiums but the state doesn’t see that if it kicks you policy information out.

When you’re penalized, you’ll get your license plates suspended and you’ll have to pay a fine at the minimum.

You should always be careful when you’re filling out your applications. Put the same name and the same physical address just so that you get everything in the mail where it’s supposed to be. If you’re not happy with your rates, you can always get some quotes online strictly for comparison purposes.

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