Car Insurance Inspections: Everything You Need To Know (2022)

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Auto coverage requirements vary by state, which can make it tricky for drivers to know when they need car insurance inspections. The process can be confusing and even intimidating for those who have never done it. To ease the process, we’ve prepared a comprehensive guide that contains everything you need to know about car insurance inspections.

If you’re in the market for car insurance that will protect you, your family and your vehicle, it’s essential to know the difference between various providers. Our team of experts has reviewed major insurance providers to determine the best car insurance deals in the industry. Enter your zip code below to get free insurance quotes from providers in your area.

What is a Car Insurance Inspection?

A car insurance inspection is a standard process that insurance companies use to assess and authenticate the damage to a vehicle before approving an insurance claim. In this situation, a claims adjuster will closely examine the car’s damage as part of the claims process. They will also ask questions about the accident and take pictures of the damage.

There are three primary reasons car insurance inspections are important. Claims adjusters perform them to:

  1. Decide if they will approve or deny your claim
  2. Determine the risk of insuring your car (especially if it’s a used one)
  3. Determine the premium amount for your policy, if they decide to approve the claim

Meanwhile, some states require that all cars have a physical inspection before being insured. There are some exceptions though, such as if you’ve leased or purchased a brand-new vehicle. If this is the case, the insurance agent may request copies of specific sales records.

However, before registering your car with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), most states necessitate an inspection. This process ensures that a vehicle meets all necessary safety requirements before driving on public roads. The states and districts that mandate auto inspections are as follows:

  • Louisiana
  • Texas
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Utah
  • New Hampshire
  • Maine
  • West Virginia
  • Virginia
  • Rhode Island
  • Missouri
  • Massachusetts
  • New Jersey
  • Hawaii
  • Alabama
  • Illinois
  • Mississippi
  • Maryland
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Pennsylvania
  • Delaware
  • Vermont

Why a Car Insurance Inspection is Necessary

Car insurance inspections are crucial for these reasons:

Car Inspections Make the Roads Safer

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), U.S. traffic accidents claimed over 40,000 lives in 2021. While factors beyond your control can cause accidents, such as weather conditions or other drivers, many accidents result from poorly maintained vehicles.

Most states require periodic vehicle inspections to help reduce the number of accidents caused by mechanical failures. During the inspection process, a trained mechanic thoroughly examines the car and notes any defective parts in an official inspection report. Research shows that a car’s most defective components are its seatbelts, airbags and fuel systems.

In addition, studies show that a car inspection will reduce the number of automobiles on the roadways. As a result, regular car insurance inspections are a valuable investment for drivers and society in general.

Car Inspections Lower the Overall Cost of Car Insurance

Many people are unaware that car insurance inspections can help reduce the overall cost of auto coverage. Insurance premiums are based on various factors, including the number of fraudulent claims made. Ensuring that all vehicles are in good working condition helps reduce the number of false claims and associated costs.

In addition, vehicle inspections can also help identify potential safety hazards. If your vehicle doesn’t pass, you’ll often need to address any problems before going through another inspection. In some areas, you must complete this before a specific date. If you don’t do it in the specified time, you can get penalized. So, by ensuring that all vehicles are up to standard, car inspections help create a safer driving environment for everyone while keeping insurance rates down.

Which Parts Do Car Insurance Inspections Check?

The specific parts of a car that are inspected vary by state, but there are some commonalities. In general, the inspection will include a visual examination of these auto parts:

  • Steering
  • Seat belts
  • Windshield
  • Front end
  • Tires
  • Wheel fasteners
  • Brakes
  • Suspension
  • Mirrors
  • Horn
  • Chassis frame
  • Lights
  • Fuel leaks
  • Windshield wipers

Where Can You Get a Car Insurance Inspection?

Car insurance providers have different inspection requirements, so it’s vital to check with your provider before scheduling an appointment. Sometimes, the insurance carrier will list specific inspection stations they work with.

These car inspection sites offer photo inspection services to help verify insurance claims. Insurance companies also lean on these inspection centers for regular auto inspections. Established providers like Allstate and Progressive use photo inspections for vehicle status reporting. You can go online to find a local center near you. Locations for vehicle insurance photo inspections from Allstate, State Farm, GEICO and Progressive will be shown after signing up for coverage or making a claim. Reporting a vehicle’s actual state has become a straightforward process, thanks to technological advancements.

Benefits of Getting a Car Inspection?

Getting a car inspection is an excellent idea, regardless of whether an insurance company or the state requires it. Here are some benefits of getting a car safety inspection:

Identify Possible Safety Hazards and Protect Other Drivers on the Road

Car inspections play a crucial role in keeping drivers safe. A thorough inspection can identify potential safety hazards, such as worn brakes or loose steering components. By catching these problems early, drivers can make the necessary repairs before they cause an accident.

Protect Yourself and Your Passengers

This may seem obvious, but when getting your car inspected, it’s an important thing to remember that you’re not just protecting other drivers on the road or existing properties nearby. You’re protecting both the lives and well-beings of you and your passengers. You’re also protecting your wallet for when that deductible comes due.

Extend Your Vehicle’s Lifespan

Getting a car inspection can help to extend the lifespan of your vehicle. Having a professional mechanic check your car regularly can catch potential problems early and prevent them from becoming severe.

Additionally, an inspection can also help you identify issues that may not be apparent to the untrained eye. For instance, something as simple as low tire pressure can cause significant damage to your car’s engine over time. This can also impact your fuel efficiency. By getting an inspection, you can ensure that your vehicle runs smoothly and successfully, saving you money in the long run.

Help Your Car Become More Fuel Efficient

When was the last time you got your car inspected? If it’s been a while, it may be a surprise to you to learn that getting an inspection can help you spend less on gas. Adequately maintained cars get better gas mileage than neglected ones.

That’s because well-tuned engines run more efficiently and don’t have to work hard to maintain a given speed. So, getting a car inspection may be a good place to start if you’re looking to save some money at the pump.

Save Money on Car Insurance

Numerous insurance discounts depend on state-mandated car inspections. In some states, passing an inspection can give you a discount on your car insurance premiums. So, if you’re due for an inspection, it’s worth checking with your insurer to see if you could be eligible for a break on your rates.

Our Recommendations for Auto Insurance

Car insurance is a necessity. However, getting rates that work best for you and your budget is not always straightforward. That’s why it’s prudent to use a comparison tool if you’re looking for the best deals. By comparing multiple quotes, you can put yourself in a favorable position to buy the insurance coverage you need at an affordable price.

To help you further, here is some helpful information about reliable car insurance companies you must consider: GEICO, Progressive and USAA.

GEICO: Best Overall

GEICO scored a rating of 9.1 out of 10 in our comprehensive insurance provider review. It also has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and an A++ financial strength rating from AM Best. This company is known for competitive rates, various coverage options and multiple discount opportunities. In fact, GEICO even has a special discount for federal employees.

GEICO discounts also include but are not limited to:

  • Seat belt use
  • Defensive driving
  • Driver’s education course
  • Good student

Progressive: Best for High-Risk Drivers

Progressive is another company that notched excellent scores, with an overall rating of 9.1 out of 10. The insurance provider received stellar marks for industry reputation, coverage, cost and customer experience. Progressive offers fair rates for drivers who don’t have the cleanest driving records, and like GEICO, offers discounts for good students.

Progressive also offers these discounts and more:

  • Teen driver
  • Distant student
  • Multi-policy
  • Homeowner

Read more: Progressive insurance review

USAA: Best for Military Families

USAA received an overall rating of 9.6 out of 10. The company is known for its affordable premiums and excellent customer service for military members, veterans and their families. This is evidenced by its top rankings across most U.S. regions in the 2022 J.D. Power Auto Insurance StudySM. Extra benefits you’ll get from USAA include roadside assistance, rental reimbursement and accident forgiveness.

Some of USAA’s discounts include but are not limited to: 

  • New vehicle
  • Multi-vehicle
  • Family
  • Annual mileage

FAQ: Car Insurance Inspections

When is a car insurance inspection required?

A car insurance inspection may be required when you purchase a new policy or renew an existing one. Some insurers may also require an inspection if you make a claim.

What do insurance companies look for during an inspection?

Insurance companies will check the tire pressure to ensure that they are inflated to the manufacturer’s specifications. They will visually inspect the brakes, looking for any damage or wear and tear. They will also check for odd noises or vibrations that could indicate a problem with the exhaust system.

How can you pass a car insurance inspection?

To pass a car insurance inspection, make sure that your tires are properly inflated, and the brakes are in good working condition. You should also have your car’s horns and windshield wipers checked to ensure that there are no problems. It’s also wise to take your car for a spin to ensure that everything is in good working order before the inspection.

How often do I need to have my car inspected?

The requirements for how often you need to have your car inspected vary by state and provider. Generally, it’s good to have your car inspected at least two times per year. A car inspection may also be required if you get a new insurance policy, renew an existing policy or need to make a claim.

Our Methodology

The Detroit Bureau collects data from every major car insurance provider to formulate rankings of the best insurers. Our in-depth rating system takes into account market share, coverage, auto insurance rate estimates generated by Quadrant Information Services, customer satisfaction, and ratings from industry experts. Each insurer is given a weighted score in four categories, as well as an overall score out of 10.0.

We recommend auto insurance companies based on these rankings, but we also encourage you to perform your own research and compare quotes to find the best coverage.

Katherine T. Burrows

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