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IN PLAIN ENGLISH

 

In some states, passing a 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 to insurance if your car fails inspection — table of contents:

 


 

Vehicle inspection requirements in U.S. states

Nearly half of the states in America require annual or biennial automobile safety inspections. Twelve of these states mandate yearly vehicle safety inspections, while the rest offer biennial or other options. 

 

STATE-BY-STATE VEHICLE SAFETY INSPECTION REQUIREMENTS
StateSafety inspection timing
AlabamaUpon vehicle purchase
ConnecticutWhen registering a vehicle 10 years old or older
DelawareBiennial, once a vehicle is 7 years old
HawaiiAnnual, after a vehicle's first 2 years
KentuckyWhen bringing a vehicle in from another state
Louisiana*Annual/biennial
MaineAnnual
MarylandUpon vehicle purchase
MassachusettsAnnual
MissouriBiennial
NebraskaWhen bringing a vehicle in from another state
New HampshireAnnual
New YorkAnnual
North CarolinaAnnual
PennsylvaniaAnnual
Rhode IslandBiennial
TexasAnnual, after a vehicle's first 2 years
VermontAnnual
VirginiaAnnual
West VirginiaAnnual

 

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

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 U.S. states. See below for a list of states requiring regular emissions inspections. 

 

U.S. states requiring emissions inspections

Some U.S. states require motorists to have their vehicles inspected to ensure compliance with emissions standards. See below states requiring occasional emissions inspections:

 

STATE-BY-STATE VEHICLE EMISSIONS INSPECTION REQUIREMENTS
StateEmissions inspection timing
ArizonaBiennial, in the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas
CaliforniaBiennial in most areas
ColoradoBiennial, for vehicles older than 7 years in most areas
ConnecticutBiennial
GeorgiaAnnual in 13 counties
IdahoAnnual, in the Boise and Nampa areas
IllinoisBiennial, in certain locations
IndianaBiennial, in certain locations
LouisianaAnnual, in the Baton Rouge area
MaineAnnual, in Cumberland county
MarylandAnnual, in many counties
MassachusettsAnnual
MissouriBiennial, in select counties
NevadaAnnual, in the Reno and Las Vegas areas
New HampshireAnnual
New JerseyBiennial
New MexicoBiennial, only in the Albuquerque area
New YorkAnnual
North CarolinaAnnual, in select counties
OhioAnnual, only in the Cleveland area
OregonAnnual, in the Portland and Medford areas
PennsylvaniaAnnual, in some counties
Rhode IslandBiennial
TennesseeAnnual, in some counties
TexasAnnual, in some metro areas
UtahBiennial for newer vehicles, annual for older vehicles (in select areas)
VermontAnnual
VirginiaBiennial, in some parts of the state
West VirginiaBiennial, in select counties

 

Which states do not require vehicle safety or emissions inspections?

The majority of U.S. states do not require regular vehicle safety inspections. The states not requiring inspections to stay road-legal are listed below:

 

StateVehicle inspection requirement
AlaskaNot required
ArkansasNot required
FloridaNot required
Iowa Not required
MichiganNot required
MinnesotaNot required
MississippiNot required
MontanaNot required
North DakotaNot required
South CarolinaNot required
South DakotaNot required
WashingtonNot required
WyomingNot required

 

 

What happens to insurance after a failed car safety inspection?

The 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 for cars?

As a way of preventing insurance fraud, New York, Florida, and New Jersey require all vehicles to 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 to get a physical damage inspection for car insurance in 4 steps:

  • 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.

 

Vehicle safety inspections and car insurance: how they're related and FAQs

 

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 to pass an 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.

 

Frequently asked questions

 

How long does a car inspection take?

According to car repair resource AutoVFix, a vehicle inspection can take anywhere between 15 and 45 minutes. 

How much does a car inspection cost?

Vehicle inspection costs vary depending on state-by-state fees. Check out this example fee sheet from New York State to get an idea of the costs for a variety of inspection services. 

What do car inspections check for?

The most commonly checked aspects of a vehicle include:

  • Seat belts
  • Brakes
  • Steering
  • Suspension
  • Chassis
  • Tires
  • Lights
  • Windshield
  • Horn
  • Mirrors
  • Fuel tank

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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.

Ava Lynch
Ava LynchSenior Analyst

Ava worked in the insurance industry as an agent for four-plus years.

Ava currently provides insights and data analysis as one of The Zebra's property and casualty insurance experts. Her work has been featured in publications such as U.S. News & World Report, GasBuddy, Car and Driver, and Yahoo! Finance.