In every state, drivers are required to demonstrate the ability to pay up to a certain amount to cover their liability if they are involved in a motor vehicle accident. These laws are sometimes called "financial responsibility" laws, because while not all states specifically require that drivers carry liability insurance from an insurance company, all states do require some form of proof of financial responsibility.
Pennsylvania law requires all Pennsylvania motor vehicle owners to maintain vehicle liability insurance (financial responsibility) on a currently registered vehicle. Vehicle liability insurance covers the property damage or injuries you may cause others in an accident.
A lapse in insurance coverage results in the suspension of your vehicle registration privilege for three months, unless the lapse of insurance was for a period of less than 31 days and the owner or registrant proves to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation that the vehicle was not operated during this short lapse in coverage. If the Department determines that you operated your vehicle without the required insurance, your driver’s license will also be suspended for three months. The registration plate, sticker, card and driver’s license must be surrendered to Pennsylvania Department of Transportation in order to serve the suspension. Restoration fees of $50.00 and proof of insurance must be submitted prior to having either registration or driving privileges returned.
Please note that insurance companies are required to notify Pennsylvania Department of Transportation when an insurance policy is cancelled by the insured or the insurer. Insurance companies are NOT required by law to notify Pennsylvania Department of Transportation when a vehicle owner acquires a new insurance policy with the same or different insurance company. It is the vehicle owner’s responsibility to notify Pennsylvania Department of Transportation of the new insurance after receiving a letter of inquiry from Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Failure to respond to Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s letter of inquiry will result in the suspension of the vehicle registration. A suspension may be avoided by the return of the registration plate, sticker and card to Pennsylvania Department of Transportation at the time the insurance policy is cancelled or financial responsibility lapses. Registration Plates, stickers and cards must be received by the Department no more than 30 days after insurance was cancelled. Registration plates, stickers and cards received by the Department after 30 days will result in a 3-month registration suspension.
To surrender the registration plate, sticker and card, mail them to:
PA Department of Transportation
Bureau of Motor Vehicles
Return Tag Unit
P.O. Box 68597
Harrisburg, PA 17106-8597.
Repercussions for not being insured -
If your motor vehicle is not insured with liability insurance, you could face the following penalties and expenses:
· A minimum of $300 fine for driving uninsured
· A three-month suspension of your vehicle registration
· A three-month suspension of your driver’s license
· $50 restoration fee to restore your vehicle registration
· $50 restoration fee to restore your driver’s license
· That vehicle may not be driven by anyone while the registration is suspended.
How do police officer’s determine if you are operating your vehicle without Insurance?
If you are stopped for a traffic violation, the police officer will request your insurance I.D. card. If you cannot show the officer a valid card, the police officer will cite you for this offense and, if convicted, your vehicle registration and driver’s license will be suspended for three months each.
If you are involved in a reportable accident, the investigating officer must complete an accident report and forward the report to Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. If it is determined that you were without insurance, your vehicle registration and driver’s license will be suspended for three months each.
In some cases, insurance information listed on vehicle registration renewal applications is verified with the indicated insurance company. If your insurance company denies coverage, your vehicle registration will be suspended for three months.
All insurance companies are required to notify Pennsylvania Department of Transportation when an insurance policy is cancelled or terminated by the insured or by the insurer. Pennsylvania Department of Transportation mails the vehicle owner a letter requesting new insurance information. If the owner fails to provide evidence of insurance, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation suspends the owner’s vehicle registration for three months.
Vehicle inspection stations require all vehicle owners to present proof of insurance before having their vehicles inspected. If an owner fails to present proof of insurance, the inspection official, in addition to denying a certificate of inspection, may notify Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Pennsylvania Department of Transportation follows up by requesting insurance information as explained in #4.
How do I show proof of insurance?
The following documents are acceptable forms of insurance:
1) A copy of an insurance identification card.
2) A copy of the declaration page of an insurance policy.
3) A copy of an application for insurance to the Pennsylvania Automobile Insurance Plan signed by a licensed insurance agent or broker.
4) A copy of a certificate of self-insurance issued by Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.
5) A copy of a valid binder of insurance issued by an insurance company licensed to sell motor vehicle liability insurance in Pennsylvania.
6) A copy of a letter from the insurance carrier that verifies the proof of financial responsibility of the insured on official company letterhead signed by an insurance agent or another authorized representative of the insurance company.
Do I have to show proof of insurance when I register my vehicle?
Pennsylvania Department of Transportation requires all motor vehicle owners to provide proof that they are financially responsible (have liability insurance) at the time of initial registration.
Pennsylvania Department of Transportation refuses renewal or transfer of registration if the self-certification of financial responsibility is not completed on the registration application, as follows:
1) Name of the insurance company that is insuring the vehicle.
2) The policy number, effective date and expiration date of the insurance policy.
Things to remember:
Getting stopped by a
police officer is not the only way of being found guilty of failing to
be insured. If you don't renew your insurance, your carrier is
to notify the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. The agency
then send you a letter requesting your new insurance carrier's
information. Failure to respond will cue Pennsylvania Department of
Transportation to suspend your driver's license.
If you bring your car to a vehicle inspection station without proof of insurance, it will not be inspected. The inspection station will then notify Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, which will prompt a letter to you demanding insurance information. Failure to respond will result in a license suspension.
You will not be allowed to register your vehicle without proof of insurance.