State laws differ however most states do require you to have insurance on a registered vehicle. Some states require you to show proof of insurance to title and register, and thus get your vehicle's tags (license plates), your car while others do not require the proof when you pick up your license plates but expect you to have the required insurance. Some states see proof from your insurance company transmitted to their computer system showing your insurance policy information.
While you may not have to show actual proof of insurance when registering the car most all states require you to carry insurance on the registered and plated vehicle during your registration period. States procedures for this differ greatly so you should check with your state's Department of Motor Vehicles to see about your state's process is and if you must have insurance to get tags for your vehicle.
For example of how states vary on what is required when you come in to register a vehicle:
Pennsylvania states that proof of PA insurance, such as a valid insurance identification card, declaration page of an insurance policy, a copy of a valid binder or a copy of an application for insurance to the Pennsylvania Assigned Risk Plan for all of the vehicles you will be registering must be brought with you to the PennDOT office to register your office and receive your plates. These insurance documents must indicate both effective and expiration dates.
Utah's Division of Motor Vehicles notes that all motor vehicles, (off-highway vehicles excepted) must maintain owner/operator security (Liability coverage) throughout the vehicle's registration period but it is not a document required when registering your car. For several years, UT has compared its motor vehicle registration file with a database of insurance policies written to Utah residents. When the computer program discovers a vehicle registered and plated in UT that does not have a corresponding insurance policy, a letter is sent to the vehicle's registered owner, requiring the owner to provide proof of insurance.
It appears you may be from Alabama. The AL Motor Vehicle Division says that no person shall operate, register or maintain registration of, and no owner shall permit another person to operate, register or maintain registration of, a motor vehicle designed to be used on a public highway unless the motor vehicle is covered by a liability insurance policy.
Alabama law does not require registrants to show proof of insurance prior to registering a vehicle. Registrants are required, however, to maintain liability insurance by a company licensed to conduct business in Alabama. Registrants affirm, by signing the registration receipt, that the vehicle being registered is insured.
In AL to obtain plates one must for any motor vehicle requiring a certificate of title, the vehicle owner must apply for an Alabama certificate of title. Title applications are completed through designated agents of the Alabama Department of Revenue. The title fee is $15 plus any other commissions due the designated agents.
Vehicles being titled, for the first time in Alabama must be inspected by the designated agent before the title application can be completed. After the inspection, the license plate issuing official will collect the necessary fees and taxes and issue a license plate.
To find out what your state's registering and license tag specific procedures are and if insurance must be either shown to receive your tags contact your DMV. Remember that it may be that proof of insurance is not required to be shown to get your tags but that you are required to have it on the vehicle and if you are caught without it will be penalized.
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