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Corin Cook

By: Corin Cook on January 10th, 2023

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Can I Insure My Car if I Can’t Register it?

Personal Auto | Individuals & Families | auto insurance | Learning Center | individuals and families

Going to the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles to register a car is a process that already feels inconvenient for many people, but if you are trying to do it right now, it may be more frustrating than ever.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, most people and businesses have learned to adapt to a “new normal,” but the state of our world is still throwing us curveballs and causing significant frustration. 

Much of this frustration lies in dealing with the Registry of Motor Vehicles. They are doing their best to implement guidelines to enable social distancing, but the result is a serious backlog for the already-busy entity. 

At Berry Insurance, we get how aggravating it can be. We have talked to several clients who have been struggling to get an appointment with the RMV and cannot drive the new vehicles they purchased as a result.

If you’re buying a new car through a dealership, you probably won’t have a problem because most dealerships register vehicles for you on the spot, but if you’re buying a vehicle through a private sale, or gaining ownership from another family member, you might run into some issues.

Let’s discuss whether you can insure a car before registering it, and what to do if the current RMV restrictions are preventing you from getting your car on the road.

Current RMV restrictions:

To comply with Massachusetts state of emergency procedures, state registries have implemented several procedures to reduce the number of clients in the buildings.

Several of the state’s RMVs are closed, and services are currently limited to appointments only.

Because of these restrictions, wait times to get an appointment have been extreme. 

While some of our clients have communicated to us that they’ve been able to get an appointment in a week or two, others have said they haven’t been able to find an opening until months from now.

Can I insure my car if I can’t register it?

So if you’re one of these people who can’t find an appointment, you might be wondering if you can insure your vehicle before registering it. 

Well, we have an answer for you. 

In order to register a car, you need to show proof of insurance, so technically, you always insure a car before registering it. However, that doesn’t mean you can insure a car if you won’t be able to get to the RMV within a reasonable amount of time.

Insuring and registering a car go hand and hand in Massachusetts and must be done within a few days of each other, so generally when an insurance agent establishes a car insurance policy for a vehicle, they will set the policy to start the day the driver plans on going to the RMV to register it.

Without an appointment at the RMV, your insurance agent or company won’t know when to begin your policy.

What happens if I insure a car before registering it?

The insurance company is then notified when the car is registered, so if they notice it isn’t registered, the company will reach out to you to ask why it isn’t registered. If it is still not registered after three weeks, the insurance company will cancel the policy. If you’re adding a car to an existing policy, the whole policy won’t be cancelled, just the coverage for the new vehicle.

Even though you might want to cross insuring your vehicle off your to-do list, it really doesn’t make sense to do it ahead of time. In addition to the insurance company questioning you and potentially cancelling the policy, you still can’t drive the vehicle without a registration and you would be paying for a policy you aren’t using.

What should I do if I can’t get a registry appointment?

If you can’t get an appointment to get your car registered, unfortunately, there isn’t a whole lot you can do. 

Times are tough right now, and while our society is still adapting, it hasn’t figured everything out yet — getting registry tasks done in a timely manner is one of those situations.

At this point, we are just recommending that clients check for all registry appointments regularly.

New appointments are opening up all the time, so you’ll have better luck if you look for an appointment regularly — at least daily.

We are also suggesting that you check all available RMV locations for availability — not just the ones closest to you. You may have to drive further, but it will probably be worth it if you can get an appointment much sooner.

Be ready to insure and get your car on the road:

While you’re waiting (hopefully not too long) to get your RMV appointment, you can prepare some materials and information to make sure everything runs smoothly when it is time to get insurance.

After all, we don’t want you to wait any longer to get your car on the road!

Check out this article outlining the step-by-step process of how to buy car insurance so you are informed and ready to efficiently complete the process when the time comes.  And stay in the know by visiting our Learning Center to learn more about auto insurance such as: What is Covered Through a Massachusetts Auto Policy?