Does your car need to be registered to get auto insurance?

Many people think they do not need to register their vehicles because they already have insurance. But this is not true. You may still need to register your vehicle in certain states.

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Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

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Written by Rachel Bodine
Feature Writer Rachel Bodine

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, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com and Safeco. He reviews content, ensuring that ex...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent Daniel Walker

UPDATED: May 24, 2022

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Things to remember...

  • In most cases, having a copy of your insurance card or a printout of your coverage information is sufficient to register your car
  • Your car must be registered and insured in the same state, most preferably the state of your legal residence
  • While driving without a legal registration will result in a heavy fine, driving without insurance might lead to the impoundment of your vehicle and the suspension of your driver’s license

If you’ve got a new car, you might be wondering, “can you register it without insurance?” Most states will require you to present proof of insurance, but the exact answer varies by location. Read on to learn what will be required in order for you to register your car.

Enter your ZIP code for the best auto insurance rates in your area before you register your car.

Can you register a car without insurance?

While a majority of the states require you to submit proof of insurance before you can register your car, there are a few states that don’t need any evidence. The following states don’t require insurance to register your car: 

  • New Hampshire
  • Washington
  • Mississippi
  • Virginia
  • Tennessee
  • Arizona
  • Wisconsin
  • North Dakota

It’s important to note that while these states don’t require proof of insurance while registering your vehicle, it’s mandatory to eventually get your insurance. 

For average car rates based on state, check out the chart below.

Average Annual Auto Insurance Rates by State
StateAverage Annual Auto Insurance Rates
Alaska$3,421.51
Alabama$3,566.96
Arkansas$4,124.98
Arizona$3,770.97
California$3,688.93
Colorado$3,876.39
Connecticut$4,618.92
District of Columbia$4,439.24
Delaware$5,986.32
Florida$4,680.46
Georgia$4,966.83
Hawaii$2,555.64
Iowa$2,981.28
Idaho$2,979.09
Illinois$3,305.48
Indiana$3,414.97
Kansas$3,279.62
Kentucky$5,195.40
Louisiana$5,711.34
Maine$2,953.28
Maryland$4,582.70
Massachusetts$2,678.85
Michigan$10,498.64
Minnesota$4,403.25
Missouri$3,328.93
Mississippi$3,664.57
Montana$3,220.84
North Carolina$3,393.11
North Dakota$4,165.84
Nebraska$3,283.68
New Hampshire$3,151.77
New Jersey$5,515.21
New Mexico$3,463.64
Nevada$4,861.70
New York$4,289.88
Ohio$2,709.71
Oklahoma$4,142.33
Oregon$3,467.77
Pennsylvania$4,034.50
Rhode Island$5,003.36
South Carolina$3,781.14
South Dakota$3,982.27
Tennessee$3,660.89
Texas$4,043.28
Utah$3,611.89
Virginia$2,357.87
Vermont$3,234.13
Washington$3,059.32
West Virginia$2,595.36
Wisconsin$3,606.06
Wyoming$3,200.08
Median$3,660.89
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Based on the chart’s data, Michigan has some of the highest rates in the country.

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When should you register a car?

 Regardless of the reason, it’s always recommended to register your car as soon as possible. If you have valid insurance for your car but it isn’t registered, you’re not legally permitted to drive it. If you’re wondering how to register your car, it’s fairly easy. All you need to do is go to your local DMV and submit relevant documents.

It’s important to note that the registration of your car will expire every few years, and you need to renew it as and when required. The requirement differs based on the state, wherein some may require annual renewals while others may need it once every 5 or 10 years. That being said, in most cases, newer models often need fewer renewals, whereas older vehicles may require renewals more frequently. Moreover, when it comes to how much to register a car, it’s important to note that first-time owners will have to pay a higher sum.

Many states now allow you to renew your registration online, so you don’t have to go to the DMV to do it. You may even be able to sign up for automatic renewal notifications.

Where can you register a car without insurance?

While a majority of the states require you to submit proof of insurance before you can register your car, there are a few states that don’t need any evidence. The following states don’t require insurance to register your car: 

  • New Hampshire
  • Washington
  • Mississippi
  • Virginia
  • Tennessee
  • Arizona
  • Wisconsin
  • North Dakota

It’s important to note that while these states don’t require proof of insurance while registering your vehicle, it’s mandatory to eventually get your insurance. This is because in most of these states, except New Hampshire, driving without insurance is illegal. 

How to Get Proof of Insurance

Proof of insurance is a document that verifies you carry a current, legitimate vehicle insurance policy that fulfills your state’s minimum necessary coverages.

All states except New Hampshire need automobile insurance before drivers may lawfully drive on public highways. This regulation helps drivers pay for property damage and personal harm following an accident.

If you’re pulled over by local law enforcement, they may ask for your proof of insurance. When applying for a new insurance policy or renewing an expired policy, you may also be required to provide proof of prior insurance.

Insurance providers often send evidence of insurance shortly after your initial premium payment. They may send it through the mail, fax, or as an electronic insurance card.

Many insurance carriers enable you to view your insurance ID via a mobile app. They can also send you a digital copy of your card, which you may view on your smartphone. Those are helpful methods that protect you from losing your insurance ID.

If you do lose your insurance card, most insurers enable you to access your account online. By going to their website, you may download and print out a new insurance ID. Additionally, you may call your agent and ask them to send you a replacement card in the mail.

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What happens if insurance lapses after car registration?

Don’t drive if your insurance has expired after you’ve registered your vehicle. It is illegal to drive without insurance, and the consequences may be severe. Without insurance, you run the risk of facing severe penalties and perhaps even prison time, similar to using an unregistered vehicle.

If your insurance lapses, call your existing provider and ask them if they’re willing to reinstate your coverage. However, if your insurance is canceled, you could also consider shopping around for a new policy that might give you better benefits while insuring a car.

You should keep in mind that if you let your insurance coverage expire, you’ll likely have to pay a higher premium going forward.

The Bottom Line on Registering Your Car to Get Auto Insurance

Does your car need to be registered to get auto insurance? In the majority of circumstances, the answer is “no.” When deciding whether to first get insurance or focus on registering a car, the answer is usually insurance. This is because in most of the states, except New Hampshire, driving without insurance is illegal. You will be able to avoid any expenses or legal troubles in the future as a result of this.

To get the best auto insurance coverage at affordable rates, get as many online quotes as you can and make comparisons. Enter your ZIP code to find the best auto insurance quotes for the coverage you need before you register your car.

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Enter your ZIP code below to view companies that have cheap auto insurance rates.

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