Are car insurance inspections required?

A car insurance inspection can cost as little as $7. Some states require auto and general vehicle inspections to keep car insurance rates down. A pre-insurance photo inspection may be done for different reasons, such as to reduce fraud.

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UPDATED: May 25, 2022

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Written By: Laura BerryReviewed By: Joel OhmanUPDATED: May 25, 2022Fact Checked

Here's what you need to know...

  • Car inspections are a requirement in some states before registering a car.
  • Even if your state does not mandate that you need an inspection, your insurance carrier may.
  • It is always a good idea to have your car inspected periodically to ensure that it is safe to drive.

State car insurance requirements are all different. Some states ask for auto and general vehicle inspections for specific reasons.

Car insurance inspections are valuable as they reduce the number of accidents that occur due to poorly maintained cars, which reduces car insurance claims. However, some states don’t require auto inspections before getting car insurance.

Read more to learn which states require inspections.

Are you in a state that requires a pre-insurance vehicle inspection?

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Are car insurance inspections required?

It depends. Pre-insurance car inspections are done before you buy a car. Auto inspection for insurance is sometimes done during claims. However, some states require you to get your car inspected before driving it.

But what’s included in a vehicle inspection checklist? Inspection companies examine tire pressure to make sure it is set according to the specifications of the car’s manufacturer. They also check for vehicle noises such as popping, hissing, or excessive loudness, which could indicate leaks and other problems with the exhaust system.

Suspension-related issues are analyzed as well, including loose steering parts, damaged shocks, or struts, broken/worn out mounts, or bushings. During the vehicle inspection, the condition of your braking system will be examined to inspect common brake problems such as grinding, squeaking, shaking steering wheel, and spongy brakes.

Here is the list of states that require auto and general car inspection. Also, we’ve included the costs of inspection of each state.

Vehicle Inspection Costs of States That Require Inspections
StatesVehicle Inspection Costs
IllinoisUp to $100
LouisianaUp to $30
New Hampshire$20 to $50
New Jersey$50
New York$10 to $15
North Carolina$13.60
Rhode Island$55
Vermont$35 to $50
West Virginia$14.66
District of Columbia (Washington D.C.)$35
Alabama$90 ($75 for inspection, $15 for the title issuance fee)
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Do you need car insurance to get your car inspected? And do you need insurance to pass inspection? Yes. If you’re going to drive your vehicle to get checked, get car insurance. It may be one of the vehicle inspection requirements. An automobile insurance company that wants a motor vehicle inspection report will require you to follow state guidelines.

According to Texas State Law, you need to have the minimum requirements for car insurance to pass a vehicle inspection.

To maintain car insurance discounts, you may want to get your motor vehicle inspected and return the report to your car insurance company.

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How can I find insurance inspection companies?

Car insurance companies have a list of trusted insurance inspection companies that work closely with them. These inspection services provide car insurance photo inspection for claims and routine car inspection. Allstate, State Farm, Progressive, and GEICO mandatory photo inspections are used to report vehicle status. You can try searching for “photo inspection near me” to find local options.

Allstate, State Farm, GEICO, and Progressive car insurance photo inspection locations are provided after getting insured or upon filing a claim. But how much does a car inspection cost? There’s no cost to you for this inspection. Innovation has made it easier to report the accuracy of a car’s condition.

How do car insurance inspections reduce accidents?

Statistics show that, if vehicle inspections for insurance are required, fewer cars will be a hazard on the road due to faulty brakes, broken windshield wipers, or burnt-out turn signals.

Another way vehicle inspections are helpful is in reducing the overall costs of auto insurance rates. Car insurance rates are based on several factors, including the cost of fraud. If fewer improper claims occur, car insurance premiums can be lower.

Vehicle safety is critical whenever you take your car on the road. The way you drive is critical, but so is the condition of your car.

Before you get into your car, you should always walk around the automobile and do a quick visual inspection.

Some of the things to look for are flat tires or broken lights.

If you see something wrong with your car, do not drive it unless you know it is in a safe condition to drive. Driving an unsafe car, even for just a few blocks, is not worth risking an accident and someone’s life.

Since car safety is such an essential factor in reducing the number of accidents that occur daily, several states have mandated car insurance inspection rules.

In these states, you are unable to register your car unless you have an inspection done first. Without a passing inspection report and registered car, you cannot get car insurance.

How do car insurance inspections reduce fraud?

Every day, fraud occurs and increases the cost of car insurance premiums. By requiring inspections, the chance of this is significantly reduced, and the cost of rates can be lowered.

Typically, brand new cars do not require car insurance inspections.

However, if you buy a used car and want to insure it for comprehensive and collision, then you may need to get a car inspection before getting car insurance.

The best car insurance companies don’t want to assume that everyone is going to try to get away with insurance fraud.

To reduce the risk of insurance fraud, just requiring everyone to get an inspection before insurance helps keep everyone honest.

If you buy a used car and add comprehensive coverage without an inspection then call to submit a claim for a dent a few weeks later, the insurer may not cover the damage.

The car insurance provider would have to pay your claim even if it is improper, and the more claims it has like that, the higher everyone’s premiums will be.

A simple inspection before insuring your car will reveal if your new insurance won’t cover any problems. That way, if your car is dent free at the time of the inspection, but it gets a dent a few weeks later, you have a justifiable claim for the car insurance provider to pay.

Certified car inspections are done at numerous places, such as gas stations or inspection stations. If your state or car insurer requires an inspection, they can provide you with a list of approved inspection locations.

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How do I know whether I need a car insurance inspection?

If you are not sure if you need a car insurance inspection, check with both your DMV and your insurance provider.

Just because your state does not require an inspection doesn’t mean your car insurer does not require an inspection to cover you for comprehensive car insurance or collision car insurance.

When you buy a car from a dealer, then you may receive inspection advice from the dealer.

However, it is best to confirm the facts with the state and your car insurance provider. It is also important to read the fine print of your car insurance documents.

Imagine you buy a used car, apply for insurance, pay your premium, and think everything is fine. However, your coverage is contingent upon sending in an approved inspection document.

If you are involved in an accident or your car gets damaged in a hit and run, your car insurance provider will not cover your claim.

Keeping a well-maintained car is essential for your car’s overall condition and the safety of you and others on the road. Getting a car insurance inspection is a good idea, whether it is required or not. Car insurance inspections can help keep car insurance premiums lower.

What do car inspections for car insurance check for?

Before we get into the details of this section, let’s review some tips to help you pass state inspection.

Here’s what you expect from states that require auto inspection:

  • In many states in the United States, a car inspection is required before you go to officially register a car with the state department of motor vehicles (DMV)
  • The purpose of car inspection is to make sure that a car is safe to drive on the road and is not going to cause an accident.
  • If a car inspection is required to get car insurance, then the purpose of the inspection is to make sure that the car is not a hazard and to prevent insurance fraud.
  • If your state requires a car inspection, then there will be officially licensed inspection stations that are authorized to perform the inspection.

If you are required to get an inspection of your car, this could be a condition of getting car insurance coverage or because your state department of motor vehicles requires inspections before a car can be legally registered in that state.

Either way, a car inspection is used to ensure that a car is in proper working order and will not cause an accident on the roads.

For insurance purposes, a car inspection will be used to document any damage to the car at the time that you purchased it.

What are the reasons your car might fail an inspection?

If you receive news that your car did not pass a required inspection, this could be for a variety of reasons.

Some of the common reasons that a car could fail an official car inspection include issues with:

  • Vehicle exhaust
  • Suspension system
  • Tire pressure
  • Tire and wheel alignment
  • Battery
  • Fluid levels
  • Belts
  • Vehicle lights

If the inspection is focused on the mechanical workings of the car, then this is probably a state inspection. Some states even require a separate emissions test at set intervals to make sure that your car is not violating any regulations on the emission of gas.

According to Washington D.C. law, all drivers are required to pass vehicle inspection to receive a valid inspection sticker, proving they passed inspection and are ready to register their motor vehicle.

However, if an inspection is focused on the physical appearance of the car, this could be for insurance purposes to prevent the filing of false claims.

The reason that an insurance provider would require this is that they do not want insured drivers to be able to file a claim for car damage if they purchase a used car that is already in a damaged condition.

A car inspection process helps to keep the entire insurance process honest.

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How do car inspections affect comprehensive car insurance coverage?

There are severe consequences if you fail to get a car inspection as required by the car insurance company.

The most obvious problem is that if your auto is damaged after you purchase it, your car insurance company could refuse to cover a claim because you cannot prove that the car was damaged when you bought it.

This scenario usually only applies to used cars because a new car is presumed to be in pristine condition from the time of purchase and from when it is first insured.

Even if you decide to purchase a car that is used, comprehensive insurance coverage can be a very prudent thing for you to consider.

A comprehensive insurance policy is optional in all states, but it does wonders in terms of offering protection for damage to a car from an incident that is not a car accident.

Non-accidental incidents could include a tree falling on top of your car. If you still have car payments to make on a car that is severely damaged in this way, then you can be stuck with a considerable expense to have to cover on your own.

Events like this are why you should still consider other types of optional car insurance even if your car is not in pristine condition.

You can purchase a comprehensive car insurance policy as supplemental coverage from your current insurance provider.

As with all types of car insurance, you should make time to shop around a bit before settling on a rate for a comprehensive car insurance policy.

How do I have a car inspected for purchase?

In addition to any inspections that you are required to have done for your car, you should examine a car thoroughly before deciding to purchase it.

Thorough examinations include checking into the history of the car so that you know ahead of time whether it has been involved in any major accidents.

You can ask to see a car history report before deciding to purchase a car or not.

If you are purchasing a used car, it may be a good idea to have an inspection performed before you purchase it.

Your car insurance will not cover mechanical failures of the car because it is only for physical damage as a result of an accident or some other type of event.

If the engine in your car dies and you are wondering if car insurance will pay, this is an expensive repair that you would have to pay for on your own. In light of this reality, it is important to be aware of any issues before you purchase it.

While no car inspection can guarantee that your car will be good to go, it is an effective way to get in front of significant problems with your car.

What do car inspections check for?

If you are required to get a car inspection by your state department of motor vehicles to register your automobile, then the purpose of the inspection is to make sure that your car is not a hazard to both you and other drivers on the roads.

The idea behind this requirement is that more car accidents will be prevented because dangerous cars will be kept off of the public roads.

Sometimes, a car insurer will require a car inspection as a condition of coverage. Whether you’ll need a GEICO car inspection or one from a different provider, your insurer has you covered.

This condition is typically true for a car that is not purchased in new condition or if you are taking out a comprehensive insurance policy.

Having a car inspection helps to make sure that there are no fraudulent claims filed for physical damage to that car.

You may also want to have a used car inspected on your own before buying it.

If you’re done with car insurance inspections, and you’re ready to move on to comparing car insurance quotes, enter your ZIP code in the FREE comparison tool below.

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about auto insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything auto insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by auto insurance experts.

A former insurance producer, Laura understands that education is key when it comes to buying insurance. She has happily dedicated many hours to helping her clients understand how the insurance marketplace works so they can find the best car, home, and life insurance products for their needs.

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Written by Laura Berry
Former Insurance Agent Laura Berry

Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP® Joel Ohman

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