A former insurance producer, Laura understands that education is key when it comes to buying insurance. She has happily dedicated many hours to helping her clients understand how the insurance marketplace works so they can find the best car, home, and life insurance products for their needs.

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products, including home, life, auto, and commercial, and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, mainly in the insuranc...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers Insurance CSR 4 Years

UPDATED: Oct 15, 2021

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The quick answer is that no insurance companies directly require a smog check or vehicle emissions check to grant insurance, but in some states it may be a moot point since you won’t be allowed to drive your vehicle if it fails to pass the smog check. These checks were put in place to help improve air quality and more and more states are beginning to require them as a condition of vehicle registration. Vehicle emissions do not affect the probability of a car being involved in an accident, so insurance companies generally do not have any interest at all in smog tests for vehicles.

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Many states are becoming much more serious about enforcing emission control regulations. Often, if a car fails a smog test on registration, it cannot be licensed until it passes. If it fails during regularly scheduled testing, you will usually be given a period of time to fix the vehicle and pass the test before incurring any penalties. The penalties for failing to get the vehicles tested on time or driving a vehicle that has failed past the grace period can be quite severe, sometimes even including suspension of your driver’s license.

Insurance Requirements

In addition to the smog check, many states require drivers to have some type of auto insurance coverage as well. In some cases, a state will not allow a vehicle to be registered without proof of insurance. In other cases, there can be a severe fine if a driver is in an accident or gets a moving violation and cannot produce proof of  insurance.

According to the Better Business Bureau, even states that do not require you to have auto insurance still require you to have proof of financial responsibility.

This means that if you were involved in an accident, you would have to have large amounts of cash or securities, enough to cover whatever the state minimum requirement is, to avoid losing your license.

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Coverage Recommendations and Requirements

For those states that do require auto insurance, the minimum coverage requirements can vary quite a bit. Most states require some sort of liability coverage, which is coverage designed to pay for damages to property and injuries to people caused by your vehicle. In some rare cases, a state may require collision, comprehensive, uninsured, or underinsured motorist coverage, but this coverage is most often required by auto loan companies who want to protect their collateral.

The Insurance Information Institute suggests that you take more than the minimum coverage dictated by your state for liability, as you would be personally liable for the cost of damages beyond the amount of your coverage. Collision, comprehensive and/or uninsured motorist coverage is also recommended even when not required by the state so that an accident doesn’t leave you with more expenses than you can afford to repair your own vehicle and get your own health restored.

Variance between States for Auto Insurance Rates

Statistics compiled by the Insurance Information Institute in 2009 indicate that the cheapest state in which to insure a vehicle in North Dakota, with an average insurance cost of $510 per year. Other states with an average annual cost below $500 include South Dakota, Iowa, Idaho, Nebraska, Kansas, Wisconsin, and Maine.

If you live in the District of Columbia, you can expect to pay about $1,128 per year for auto insurance, the highest rates in the United States. Other states that average over the $1,000 mark for annual car insurance rates are New Jersey, Louisiana, New York, Delaware, and Florida. Other states that average close to $1,000 per year for car insurance are Rhode Island, Connecticut, Nevada, and Maryland.

You may notice the trend; most of the less expensive states to get insurance are not high population density states, so basically there are less other cars on the road to run into.

Conversely, high population density states like New York and New Jersey have higher insurance rates because the increased traffic increases the likelihood of a crash. There are, of course, other factors involved, but in general, the lower the chance of having a car accident in a given state, the less the insurance rates will be.

To get the best insurance rates available in your state, type your ZIP code into the text box to use the FREE search tool and get your insurance quote today!