How Does a Failed Car Inspection Affect Your Insurance?

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by Quiana Darden Updated May 27th, 2022
man completing a car inspection

Adulting brings along a slew of responsibility with getting a car inspection being one of them. Although not required in every state, millions of drivers must complete an inspection of some kind before hitting the open road. 

But what happens if you fail your car inspection? Does it impact how much you pay for car insurance? Let’s explore and find out. 

What is a State Required Inspection?

The rules of the road are set on a state level. In some states, your vehicle must pass an inspection before you can legally drive it, while others don’t have any required inspection mandates.

For states that do require inspections, most require a VIN inspection, which includes a physical look at Vehicle Identification Number. The goal is to match this number with the data on file for the vehicle at the DMV. 

Other states require a safety inspection. Generally, this requires a mechanic to look at the chassis frame, windshield wiper, lights, horn, tires, fuel tank, brakes, mirrors, seat belts, suspension, and more to confirm the vehicle is in good condition for safe driving. 

Another common state-required test relates to emissions. Emission inspections aim to confirm that the vehicle’s emissions are in line with the state standards. 

Vehicle Inspection Requirements in the U.S. 

As a driver, your vehicle inspection requirements will vary based on where you live. Here’s a breakdown of what to expect:

VIN Inspections

Generally, a VIN inspection is the least expensive requirement on this list. States that require this step typically are looking to prevent insurance fraud by matching the details of your vehicle with the correct VIN in the DMV’s database. 

Here are the states that require a VIN inspection as a one-time deal when you register the vehicle in the state through a purchase or move:

  • Florida
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Indiana
  • Idaho
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Maryland
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island 
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • Wyoming

Here are the other states that require a VIN inspection:

  • Illinois: Bi-annually
  • Pennsylvania: Annually

The process for a VIN inspection varies based on the state. Typically, you have a set number of days to finalize this registration. 

In some cases, you’ll go directly to the Department of Motor Vehicles. In others, you’ll work with a police officer to handle the inspection. If buying a new vehicle, the dealer may handle a purchase inspection for its customers.

Safety Inspection

Although most states don’t require a safety inspection, many do. 

Here are the states that require an annual safety inspection:

  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • North Carolina
  • New York
  • New Hampshire
  • Massachusetts
  • Pennsylvania
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia

Additionally, there are a handful of states that require a safety inspection less based on other terms:

  • Delaware: Applies to vehicles over five years old.
  • New Jersey: Applies to vehicles over four years old.
  • Illinois: Applies to vehicles over four years old.
  • Rhode Island: Inspections start two years after the date of purchase. 
  • Alabama: Requires a safety inspection before you can transfer ownership of a vehicle.
  • Mississippi: Safety inspections are optional unless the vehicle has tinted windows. 

Emissions Inspections

man conducting an emissions inspection on a vehicle

The last state inspection you might face is an emissions inspection. 

Here are the states that require an inspection annually for all vehicles:

  • New Hampshire
  • New York
  • Massachusetts

These state require this inspection biannually for all vehicles:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Rhode Island
  • New Jersey

Additionally, some states require emissions testing for drivers living in certain cities. If you live in one of the following states, you will need to check the county laws to see if you must submit to an emissions test:

  • Colorado
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Mississippi
  • Oregon
  • Ohio
  • North Carolina
  • New Mexico
  • Nevada
  • Tennessee
  • Texas 
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

What Happens to Your Car Insurance After Failing a Car Safety Inspection?

A failed car safety inspection can result in a ticket. Tickets that result from moving violations usually result in an increased car insurance premium. So, a speeding ticket typically means a higher insurance premium. 

However, a failed safety inspection is not a moving violation. With that, it won’t add points to your license. And in general, it won’t impact your car insurance rates. 

Even if the failed test doesn’t impact your car insurance rates, it can affect your policy. In some states, you are required to pass car safety inspections to maintain your coverage. With that, a failed test could mean a lapse in coverage or an inability to file a claim until your vehicle passes inspection. 

If you fail a car safety test, read the fine print of your insurance policy to determine the impact on your unique situation. 

FAQs About the Impact of Vehicle Inspections and Car Insurance

What is a physical damage inspection?

When you sign up for an insurance policy, some states will require documentation of the vehicle’s physical condition. If required, most insurance companies accept photos as documentation of the vehicle’s current condition. 

A physical damage inspection serves as a baseline for your auto insurance policy. With that, you cannot use a new insurance policy to cover the costs of existing damage. Ultimately, the goal of this inspection is to prevent insurance fraud. 

What to do if you fail a safety inspection?

In general, you’ll need to fix the flagged problems within a certain period of time. Once fixed, your vehicle needs to be inspected again. In some cases, there is a fine for failing the first inspection. 

How much do car inspections cost?

The cost of a car inspection varies dramatically based on your location. Check with your state’s DMV office to find information about standard fees for an inspection sticker. 

How to save on car costs?

A vehicle may be an unavoidable transportation expense for your life. But that doesn’t mean you should overpay for the costs associated with maintaining your status as a legal driver. 

One major way to save is to shop around for car insurance. You might be surprised by how much you can save by switching to a different insurer. 


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