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Key Takeaways

  • An inspection is required for vehicles in certain locations before comprehensive or collision insurance can be purchased
  • CARCO is the main company creating the inspection reports and sending them to insurers
  • States requiring inspection are: Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island
  • CARCO offers an app to help make the inspection process run smoothly

What is a CARCO inspection for insurance?

A few states require what is known as a pre-insurance inspection before customers can purchase physical damage coverage — collision and comprehensive — on their vehicles. CARCO is the primary company that compiles these reports, taking information acquired during the inspection and forwarding it to the insurance company. 


A typical pre-insurance inspection is designed to prevent fraud by providing an accurate record of an automobile’s condition before certain insurance coverages can take effect. Along with verifying the vehicle’s existence, a CARCO inspection typically includes the following:

  • Detailed photographs of the vehicle (except in Florida)
  • Odometer reading
  • Overall condition of the vehicle
  • Options and accessories

CARCO inspections require fees and often take no more than 15 minutes. It's a good idea to make an appointment ahead of time.

Are there pre-insurance inspection exemptions?

In some cases, you may not be required to get a CARCO inspection for coverage. This can include the purchase or lease of a brand-new car. However, a number of documents must still be provided, including the bill of sale containing the car’s full options and accessories. Copies of window stickers, dealer’s invoices and other documents are usually required.

Also, if switching to a new car insurance company, many states allow cars previously insured with physical damage coverage by other companies to qualify. This often requires providing the declarations page of your former policy and may require verification from your former insurance company. Vehicles must also meet certain age requirements in most cases.

If you are uncertain, consult your state’s DMV or contact your insurance agent to see if you are exempt.

In some situations, you may not be required to get a CARCO inspection - like if you're buying or leasing a brand-new vehicle.

Which states require a pre-insurance inspection?

CARCO inspections are required in the following states:

Each state has different requirements surrounding your pre-insurance inspection. This can include the amount of time you have to get your inspection after purchasing the car. The window of time you have typically ranges anywhere from five to 35 days. Not getting your inspection completed in that time could result in the dropping of certain coverages from your policy.


Where can I get a CARCO inspection?

Most states have a number of CARCO inspection sites. You can follow this link to find a nearby location and set up an appointment.

What paperwork is required?

In most states, the only information needed to complete a CARCO inspection is the name of your insurer and your VIN — which will likely be photographed during the inspection process anyway. However, the state of Florida does require that you bring your vehicle registration to your inspection.


Can I submit my inspection online?

CARCO's app allows you to submit photographs of your vehicle along with the necessary information. The company claims its “AI Fraud Prevention” can reduce instances of fraud. Along with the pre-insurance inspection function, the CARCO app also features a function to inspect damaged windshields.

While this app is currently available to download on Google Play and the Apple App Store, it's unclear how many states allow for its use in place of an in-person inspection. As such, it’s always best to assume that an in-person inspection is best unless verified by a CARCO representative or an insurance agent.

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About The Zebra

The Zebra is not an insurance company. We publish data-backed, expert-reviewed resources to help consumers make more informed insurance decisions.

  • The Zebra’s insurance content is written and reviewed for accuracy by licensed insurance agents.
  • The Zebra’s insurance content is not subject to review or alteration by insurance companies or partners.
  • The Zebra’s editorial team operates independently of the company’s partnerships and commercialization interests, publishing unbiased information for consumer benefit.
  • The auto insurance rates published on The Zebra’s pages are based on a comprehensive analysis of car insurance pricing data, evaluating more than 83 million insurance rates from across the United States.