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 and forgot to get his registration renewed.

Answer: Expired registration shouldn’t affect your car insurance coverages or void your policy. However, if your friend’s registration can be renewed easily, it would be wise to update it 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.

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, so it is unlikely that a car insurance company would increase your rate.

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, that could be an issue for a car insurance company. 

Offenses that get your registration revoked – such as a lapse in continuous car insurance coverage – are looked at more critically by car insurance companies. In some states, such as Massachusetts and Indiana, car insurance companies can 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 coverage to remain intact.  However, if he could get his license renewed and the charges dropped for that citation, the insurance company couldn’t rate him on such an offense.

If your friend is so sick that he cannot drive, his physician must inform the state, and the state’s licensing department may reconsider his license status.

If this did happen, your friend might 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 in it. 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.

– Penny Gusner contributed to this story.

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Executive Editor

Laura is an award-winning editor with experience in content and communications covering auto insurance and personal finance. She has written for several media outlets, including the USA Today Network. She most recently worked in the public sector for the Nevada Department of Transportation.