How Does a Failed Auto Inspection Affect Car Insurance?

How does your auto insurance status change after your car fails an inspection? The answer may depend on where you live.

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Auto inspections and car insurance: how are they related?

In some states, passing vehicle inspection is necessary to maintain car insurance coverage. In other states, car inspection status has no bearing on insurance. In the states that require periodic car inspections to stay insured, the insurance consequences of a failed inspection may vary. Let’s break down the regulations of some of the stricter states to provide a general idea of what to expect from your insurance company if your car fails inspection.

What happens if your car fails inspection?
  1. Which states require vehicle inspections?
  2. What happens after your vehicle fails inspection?
  3. What is a physical damage inspection?
  4. Will a failed vehicle report affect your car insurance?

Which states require auto inspections?

Only 17 states require annual or biennial automobile safety inspections. Twelve of these states mandate yearly vehicle safety inspections, while five offer a biennial option.

StateSafety inspection period
New HampshireAnnual
New YorkAnnual
North CarolinaAnnual
Rhode IslandBiennial
West VirginiaAnnual

Many states carry exceptions and additions to these laws, often predicated on the age of the vehicle. This list does not account for emissions inspections, which are required in most US states.

*Louisiana offers biennial inspections, but motorists are required to pay double to earn the two-year state inspection sticker. Otherwise, annual inspections are mandatory.

What happens to insurance after a failed car safety inspection?

Consequences of a failed car inspection vary by state. Typically, you'll need to address any issues and pass a second inspection within a set amount of time. Failure to do so can result in a fine or ticket. Rules and regulations related to physical damage inspections are handled separately.

What is a physical damage inspection?

As a way to prevent insurance fraud, New York, Florida, and New Jersey require all vehicles be inspected for their physical condition, existing options, and accessories. Companies such as CARCO provide these photo inspections. Physical inspections are important because insurance companies require newly added vehicles to pass a physical inspection to qualify for comprehensive and collision coverages.

How does a physical damage inspection work?

  • Take your vehicle to a CARCO location.
  • They will physically inspect the vehicle and take photos.
  • After the inspection, you will receive a copy of the report.
  • Send this report to your insurance company.

Failure to send the physical damage report to your insurance company can result in the revocation of physical coverage — comprehensive and collision — from the policy. You can add these coverages prior to sending the documentation to your insurance company, but you will need to furnish the documents within a predetermined period in order to maintain your coverage.

Safety inspections and car insurance

Aside from the CARCO example above, auto insurance and safety inspections aren’t closely related. However, in order to get a vehicle inspection, you may need to show proof of insurance. Make sure your vehicle is insured before you take it in for its inspection.

If you’re ticketed for driving after a failed inspection, it generally won’t affect your insurance. This is because a failed inspection is not a moving violation. If your policy requires you pass inspection but you fail, you might run into problems filing a claim with an invalid inspection certificate.

If your car fails inspection, your DMV is going to pose more serious problems than is your insurance company. It's worth addressing the issues and ordering another inspection as soon as possible.

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