Question: My friend’s tag expired a month or so ago. If he were in an accident, would he still be covered by his insurance company?  He is elderly and has been ill, so he just forgot to get the registration renewed.

Answer: Expired registration normally wouldn’t affect your car insurance coverages or void your policy.  However, if your friend’s registration can be renewed easily, then it would be wise on his part to get it up to date as quickly as possible.

In the meantime, even if your friend drove his car with expired tags he would only receive a minor ticket for expired registration in most states.  This is typically a non-moving violation that wouldn’t affect future car insurance rates either.

Car insurance companies underwriting and rating rules are written to determine how much of a risk you are as a driver and charge you accordingly.  Forgetting to renew your vehicle’s tags doesn’t show you to be more of a risk to your insurer; thus, it makes it unlikely that a car insurance company would care much about it as long as the situation is corrected.

That means if your friend were in an accident after his car registration expired, his liability coverages should cover those that he harmed and his own collision coverage should cover, minus his deductible, any damage to his own vehicle.

Now, if your friend did something that got his car registration revoked, then that could be a real issue for a car insurance company. 

Offenses that get your registration taken away – such as a lapse in continuous car insurance coverage– are looked at more critically by car insurance companies.  In fact, in some states, such as Massachusetts and Indiana, car insurance companies are allowed to cancel your auto policy if your vehicle’s registration is revoked.

Or, if your friend forgot to renew his driver’s license and was cited for driving without a license after an accident that could be considered serious by his car insurance provider.

Having a valid license is required by the terms of some car insurance policies for the coverages to remain intact.  However, if he could get his license renewed and the charges dropped for that citation, then the insurance company couldn’t rate him on such an offense.

Hopefully your elderly friend can find someone to help him keep his important paperwork current from here on out so that he doesn’t get in trouble with the state or his car insurance company.  

If he were to forget to make his car insurance payment and got canceled, the penalties from the state can be quite severe.  Also, he wouldn’t have coverage if in an accident.  And even a small gap in coverage can make it difficult to find cheap car insurance rates.

If your friend gets to be so ill that he is unable to drive without having issues, then his physician may need to inform the state, and his license status may be reconsidered by the state’s licensing department.

If this did happen, then your friend may also be required by the terms of his car insurance contract to tell the insurer about his license status and medical condition.  If the medical condition is deemed to make him a higher risk, then his rates may rise – if state laws allow.

If your friend were to lose his license, it should be possible for him to keep his car to have others drive him around in it, if that is what he desired.  Some car insurance companies will allow the policyholder to be excluded as a driver if there is another person that will be listed — and rated on – as the primary driver of the vehicle.

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Penny Gusner
Consumer Analyst/Insurance Expert

Penny has been working in the car insurance business for more than 10 years and has become an expert on procedures, rates, policies and claims. She has seen it all, and working with from its inception, she researches the routine and the bizarre with equal enthusiasm. She has three very active children and a husband with a zeal for quirky cars.