Is auto insurance valid with expired registration?

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Things to remember...

  • You must purchase auto insurance to satisfy vehicle registration requirements through your state
  • In some states, you must show that you have auto insurance issued before you’ll be given permanent license plates
  • Many states have now enacted an electronic verification system so that coverage can be verified in real time
  • If you fail to pay your registration fees on time or by the end of grace period, your registration will be suspended
  • If you drive without registration, you could be pulled over and your car could be impounded

You can’t just purchase a vehicle and then drive it all over the city without first taking care of business. As soon as you become a vehicle owner, you’re going to take on the burden of having to title and register the vehicle.

All personal autos have to be titled to be operated on public roads. To register your vehicle and title it, you’ll have to fill out paperwork at your local motor vehicle agency.

If you don’t register the vehicle in your name, there would be no way for law enforcement or state agencies to identify who the legal owner of the vehicle is. In most states, you’re given just 10 days to put the car in your own name after you’ve purchased a car.

If you let your registration expire at any time while you own the vehicle, it could put you at financial risk.

You must have insurance for your new vehicle, as well. Compare car insurance quotes right here by entering your zip code above!

What is the purpose of a vehicle registration?


When you become the legal owner of a vehicle, the car has to be registered in your name. The entire purpose of the registration is to associate the VIN of a vehicle with a specific individual or entity.

Some cars are only registered to one person and others are registered to multiple parties. It all depends on how ownership is shared.

It’s the person who’s tied to the registration that is responsible for paying for toll fines, parking tickets, and damage caused by the vehicle.

The registered owner must also provide evidence of insurance and satisfy all insurance laws in the state. Anytime laws are broken or there is a penalty, it’s the legal owner who must pay.

How much does it cost to register your vehicle?

Registration fees and other taxes vary from state to state. You could pay less than $100 to register an older vehicle or hundreds of dollars to register high-value vehicles.

You can typically calculate what your registration fee will be on your official DMV website by entering your license plate number and VIN. The money that you pay goes to all of the following:

  • Local government
  • Highway Patrol
  • Department of Motor Vehicles
  • State highways
  • Air resources
  • State agencies
  • State General Fund

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Do you need proof of insurance to register your vehicle?

One of the most convenient aspects of buying a car at a dealership is that they file all of the DMV paperwork for you.

You’ll get your temporary plates at the lot and the DMV will mail you tags within the next few weeks. The fees that are due are then added to the amount you finance or your final sales price.

Before you can drive off with the new car, the dealer will probably ask you for proof of insurance. If you’re paying cash for the vehicle, you’re only required by law to show that you have liability insurance and all other mandatory coverages in the state.

When you’re financing the car, you’ll also be asked to show evidence that you have full coverage.

When you buy a car from a private party, you’ll have to do the legwork on your own. You’ll have to go to the DMV and do the following:

  • fill out applications
  • provide documents
  • pay the fee

Having all of the documents that the DMV agent needs to process your request is a must. In some states, you do have to show a valid auto insurance ID card when you’re registering a car for the first time.

What happens if you don’t pay your registration?


You have to pay your initial year right away to activate your tags. After that, you’re going to be billed once every year to pay your registration dues.

If you don’t pay by the due date, you are usually given an extra 10 days to submit your payment. You may have a grace period but that doesn’t mean that you can legally drive your car. Consider your registration suspended until you’ve made your payment to renew.

Non-payment of your registration dues isn’t the only reason that your registration can be suspended.

Another reason that you could be left with suspended tags is that you’ve let your auto insurance lapse. When your insurance lapses, you’re not complying with the law. Failing to pay your insurance premiums could easily leave you with no plates.

What happens when your tags are suspended?

You never want to get caught driving without plates.

If you take a drive and you risk it, you could be more than just pulled over and warned.

In many states, officers are required by law to tow any cars with suspended registrations to the impound yard. If the car is impounded, you have to pay not just a towing fee, but a large impound fee as well.

If your registration is suspended is your insurance still valid?


Normally speaking, your expired registration wouldn’t affect your car insurance coverage. While it is against the law to drive without tags, it’s also against the law to speed or run a stop sign but your insurance will still be valid if these actions resulted in an accident.

If you file a claim for having an accident while you’re driving a car with suspended plates, the insurer will take the claim. In most cases, they will pay out if it’s a third-party or even a first-party claim for damage to your car.

You have to be sure to keep your insurance payments up-to-date so that your insurance doesn’t lapse, too.

Having a ticket for driving without valid tags could affect your insurance. The surcharge for the violation isn’t huge, but it’s big enough to inflate your premiums.

If you’re not happy with your insurance rates, get instant quotes today using our online quoting tool. This tool gives you the power to find a deal. Enter your zip code below to compare quotes today!

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