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Car insurance and registration when you move

If you are moving to a state with high auto insurance rates and considering leaving your registration and insurance unchanged to save money, don't go there. Here's why.

For starters, it is unlawful in most states.

New Jersey is even trying to make it a fourth-degree crime. A bill there passed the assembly with a 76-0 vote. Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo, co-supporter of the bill, was quoted saying that this type of insurance fraud costs honest drivers money through higher premiums. He adds that it is wrong, but the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor is currently unable to prosecute "reverse rate evasion cases" because state law does not recognize it as insurance fraud.

The Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor has documented that the number of New Jersey residents insuring their vehicles in nearby Pennsylvania and North Carolina is on the rise. Pennsylvania and North Carolina have lower insurance rates.

car insurance when you moveThe Registry of Motor Vehicles in Massachusetts provides a hotline for reporting residents who register their vehicles in other states.

Having your vehicle registered and insured in your new place of residence the day you move isn't expected, but according to Billy Van Jura, founder of insurance consultant Birchyard LLC in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., most states will give you 30 to 60 days to comply.

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"It's best to check with your state," Van Jura says. If you miss or ignore the deadline, you could be facing a ticket or license suspension. You could face insurance, trouble, too. If your new residence would result in a premium increase, your insurer will likely charge you for the premiums you should have paid.

The deadlines

The time frame for new residents to register and insure vehicles is state-specific.

New York has the 30-day registration rule. All residents must provide a New York State Insurance Identification Card (FS-20) with a barcode readable by a DMV scanner. The state does not accept out-of-state insurance.

The lines to register a vehicle in Georgia should be short because each county has its own "county tag office" for vehicle registration. There are about 160 of them. Since registering a vehicle is county specific, you will need proof of residency in the county, such as a utility bill, property title or rental agreement. New residents are required to register their vehicles within 30 days of establishing residency.

New California residents have only 20 days in which to register and insure their vehicles.

If you're searching for vehicle registration and insurance information for your state, find the DMV's official website and be careful about information on second-party sites.

Plan to take care of your vehicle registration in person. Check your state's vehicle registration website carefully to determine the following:

  • Documents needed to prove residency.
  • Acceptable proof of insurance.
  • Emissions test requirements, if applicable.
  • Whether a state driver's license is required before registering a vehicle

If you are a college student studying out of state or nonresident military personnel, or you split your time between two states, check the requirements for vehicle registration and insurance in the state where you are living.

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