Car inspections for car insurance: How do they work?

By Allstate

Last updated: January 1

Car inspections can help you make sure that your car is safe and ready for the road, but different states have different inspection requirements. Here's what you need to know about the types of car inspections, what you might need at your appointment and what many inspections will check for.

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Do I need an inspection to purchase car insurance?

Whether or not an auto insurance provider will require your vehicle to undergo inspection before you can purchase insurance depends on a few factors. Some insurance providers may require an inspection for older vehicles to assure it's safe enough to be on the road. Higher tier protection plans may also require a vehicle inspection regardless of the vehicle's age.

What is a state required inspection?

Many states may require vehicle inspections for many of reasons. Most vehicle inspections will require proof of insurance in order to pass — and most states require insurance to legally drive on the road.

Are there different types of car inspections?

Car inspections can be administered for a number of reasons beyond a car inspection for insurance. State car inspections may cover anything from basic safety to emissions. Pre-purchase inspections may be used when purchasing a used car to ensure any potential issues with the vehicle are known before buying it.

Are there specific requirements for a car inspection?

The specific requirements to pass a car inspection will vary depending on the state. To ensure your car passes inspection, it is recommended that you look at your local laws and address any issues you may know of in advance. It may also help to understand what type of inspection is being conducted. Emissions testing and safety testing may have very different criteria for passing.

Where can I get my car inspected?

Car inspections can be conducted in a few places based on the purpose of the inspection. Sometimes it can be as easy as taking a few pictures with your phone, other times you’ll have to take your car to an approved inspection site, typically a mechanic.

Do I need anything to get an inspection?

Depending on your state, you may be required to have:

  • A valid driver's license
  • Your vehicle's title
  • Your vehicle’s registration
  • Proof of insurance

How much does a car inspection cost?

A thorough car inspection should cost anywhere from $100 to $250 according to Consumer Insurance Report. State inspections, whether for emissions or safety, tend to cost less than regular inspections.

Does my car insurance cover the cost of a car inspection?

While your car insurance will cover inspections related to insurance claims, your insurance does not cover routine inspections.

What is checked in a car inspection?

The type of car inspection will dictate what is checked during the inspection process. There is no set standard for every inspection. That being said, here are some items that may be covered for both safety inspections and inspections for insurance:

  • Tires
  • Suspension
  • Brakes
  • Fuel system
  • Electrical system
  • Exhaust system
  • Windows and wipers
  • Headlights
  • Mirrors
  • Body and chassis
  • Recent diagnostic codes
  • Instrument panel

The acceptable range for the condition of these systems will vary depending on the state as well. Car insurance inspections may also carry different requirements.

What happens to my auto insurance if my car fails an inspection?

Failing an inspection may make it difficult to be fully reimbursed after filing a claim later on. For instance, if you're involved in an accident that could have been caused by the defect, your insurance may not cover the repairs. But a failed inspection itself may not necessarily affect your insurance, according to Bankrate. That’s because it's not considered a moving violation.

If you're unsure what is and isn’t covered – and the types of inspections that are required for your vehicle – make sure to reach out to your auto insurance provider. Also check state laws for inspection requirements in your area.