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:
- Which states require auto inspections?
- What happens when your vehicle fails inspection?
- Car insurance and inspections
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
|State||Safety inspection timing|
|Alabama||Upon vehicle purchase|
|Connecticut||When registering a vehicle 10 years old or older|
|Delaware||Biennial, once a vehicle is 7 years old|
|Hawaii||Annual, after a vehicle's first 2 years|
|Kentucky||When bringing a vehicle in from another state|
|Maryland||Upon vehicle purchase|
|Nebraska||When bringing a vehicle in from another state|
|Texas||Annual, after a vehicle's first 2 years|
*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
|State||Emissions inspection timing|
|Arizona||Biennial, in the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas|
|California||Biennial in most areas|
|Colorado||Biennial, for vehicles older than 7 years in most areas|
|Georgia||Annual in 13 counties|
|Idaho||Annual, in the Boise and Nampa areas|
|Illinois||Biennial, in certain locations|
|Indiana||Biennial, in certain locations|
|Louisiana||Annual, in the Baton Rouge area|
|Maine||Annual, in Cumberland county|
|Maryland||Annual, in many counties|
|Missouri||Biennial, in select counties|
|Nevada||Annual, in the Reno and Las Vegas areas|
|New Mexico||Biennial, only in the Albuquerque area|
|North Carolina||Annual, in select counties|
|Ohio||Annual, only in the Cleveland area|
|Oregon||Annual, in the Portland and Medford areas|
|Pennsylvania||Annual, in some counties|
|Tennessee||Annual, in some counties|
|Texas||Annual, in some metro areas|
|Utah||Biennial for newer vehicles, annual for older vehicles (in select areas)|
|Virginia||Biennial, in some parts of the state|
|West Virginia||Biennial, 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:
|State||Vehicle inspection requirement|
|North Dakota||Not required|
|South Carolina||Not required|
|South Dakota||Not required|
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.
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
- Fuel tank
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