Car Inspection: Owning a car is a big responsibility and in the US, states make a point of making that very clear. It is common to come across the statement that “driving is not a right, it is a privilege”, and for that you need to meet requirements with great respect and caution.
Each state has its own requirements for drivers. Standards are established for the issuance of driver’s licenses and minimum coverage for car insurance. Also, some states require your car to be inspected regularly to ensure it is safe to drive.
Inspections are there to ensure that your car meets the legal criteria to drive, and that it is in the condition you claim to be in. Not all states require vehicle inspections, find out how it works where you live.
What are the types of car inspection?
Table of Contents
Inspections come down to three broad categories: safety, emissions and physical.
- Safety inspections determine if your car is safe to drive
- Emissions inspections determine if your car’s emissions are within your state or county standards
- Physical inspections are usually reserved for claims situations, where they assess car damage as part of the claims process.
In some states, a physical inspection of the car is required before you can add it to your policy, unless it is a brand new or newly leased car, in which case the insurance company may request copies of sales documents.
What is checked in a car safety inspection?
Car safety inspections vary by state law. That said, items typically checked for in a security inspection include:
- fuel system
- Electrical system
- exhaust system
- windows and wipers
- lights and mirrors
- body and chassis
- Seat belts
- On-board diagnostics (1996 and newer passenger cars)
Laws in each state also differ in other aspects of their safety inspection. For example, having a certain brake pad depth may be acceptable in one state, but may not be enough in another. Always be informed about the criteria of the state you live in.
Car inspections for insurance
Many insurance companies may require an inspection when purchasing higher tier coverage, others will only require them during a claims process, and some states require an inspection before you can use your car.
New cars generally do not need to be inspected to obtain auto insurance . However, if you buy a used vehicle and want to get full coverage, your insurer may require an inspection before agreeing to insure it. Major insurance companies generally don’t trust everyone to be honest about past damage to their vehicle and they do this to reduce the risk of fraud.
If you buy a used vehicle and cover it with collision and comprehensive insurance without having the car inspected first, when you file a claim for a dent after a few weeks, your provider may not cover you.
Even if your insurance company doesn’t require it, a good reason to inspect before purchasing insurance is that with a simple initial inspection, you can prove that new damage is really new and guarantee your coverage.
Inspection services provide photos of a routine car inspection to obtain insurance information, many insurance companies use photographic inspections to report the initial and post-loss status of vehicles.
Auto insurance providers often have several trusted inspection agencies that work together. Check directly with your broker for the best option for your policy.
What is a state-required inspection?
Each state has its own auto insurance requirements. Most states require general vehicle inspections for one reason or another. Many states require you to have car insurance to pass a vehicle inspection. This is so you are covered if you have a traffic accident while on your way to being inspected.
Many insurance discounts depend on state vehicle inspections, so you may want to submit your vehicle inspection report to your insurance company to maintain purchased discounts.
Here’s what you need to know about state vehicle inspections:
- Most states require an inspection before you can register your vehicle with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV or RMV).
- The purpose of a state inspection is to ensure that the vehicle is safe to drive and is not a danger to others on the street.
- If an inspection is required to obtain insurance in your state, an inspection may be required to prevent insurance fraud.
- If your state requires an inspection, there will be agencies licensed by the state to conduct a vehicle inspection. In big cities they are easy to find.
According to TheZebra , these are the states that require vehicle emissions inspections.
- new hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Caroline
- Rhode Island
- West Virginia
These are the states that do not require vehicle inspections.
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
- south dakota
Does insurance cover car inspection?
Auto insurance does not cover a state-mandated vehicle inspection. Auto insurance is there to cover the sudden damage that can result from an accident. An inspection is simply part of owning a car. However, auto insurance and inspections may be required in your state, and you may need to show proof of both to file a record.
Is claims inspection covered by insurance?
Yes, your car insurance company will cover a claims inspection. You may be asked to obtain a claims inspection when filing a claim for damage to a car. If your claim is accepted, you will receive an appraiser who will examine your car and determine the cost to repair the damage.
They will examine the damaged parts of the vehicle in the accident and verify that there was no pre-existing damage to the car, which would not be covered by the claim. The purpose of a claims inspection is essentially to clarify how much your insurance company owes you for damage to your vehicle.
How much does a car inspection cost?
A car inspection can cost between $7 and $90, depending on what type of inspection you need and where you live. In Texas, a safety inspection costs $7 and $40 for commercial vehicles. But in Massachusetts, an annual inspection costs $35 for most vehicles.
You can contact your state’s DMV or RMV or an equivalent agency to find out more about the cost of the inspection.
Do Electric Cars Need Inspections?
An all-electric vehicle will likely be exempt from an emissions inspection because it doesn’t run on gasoline. But depending on the state you live in, your electric vehicle may be required to pass a safety inspection to make sure your seat belts, equipment and other moving parts inside the car are safe.
How long does a car inspection take?
Depending on its nature, a car inspection can take between 15 and 45 minutes.