PennDOT and the state Insurance Department today urged motorists to contact PennDOT if they change their vehicle insurance provider, as vehicle owners – not insurance providers – are responsible for reporting new policy information to the department.
"People may assume that when they start a new vehicle insurance policy, the new company notifies us that they're covered. That is not the case," PennDOT Deputy Secretary for Safety Administration Kurt Myers said. "We urge our customers to provide updated insurance information to PennDOT when requested to avoid any penalties, such as registration suspension."
Drivers must purchase auto insurance – or maintain "financial responsibility" – in order to legally drive in Pennsylvania. Auto insurance protects owners against financial loss in the event of an accident by paying for damages to their own car or to another person's property.
"Though certain coverages are required in an auto policy, there are additional options consumers can choose to customize a policy to fit their needs and their budget," Executive Deputy Insurance Commissioner Randy Rohrbaugh said. "Consumers need to remember that if you fail to renew your policy, or if your policy is canceled, you could face fines, penalties and driving restrictions."
When PennDOT receives notification from an insurance company that an individual's insurance has been canceled, PennDOT sends a letter to the individual requesting verification that a new insurance policy is in place. By law, if an individual does not respond to the letter providing current insurance information, PennDOT is required to administer a three-month vehicle-registration suspension.
If a suspension occurs, the vehicle owner must surrender the vehicle's registration plate to PennDOT in order to begin the suspension. The owner will be required to provide current proof of insurance to the department and pay a $50 fee in order to have the vehicle registration restored once the suspension has been served.
For more information on insurance requirements, visit www.dmv.state.pa.us and visit the "Vehicle Insurance Information" section in the motor vehicle information center.
To learn more about auto insurance, go to www.insurance.pa.gov and click on "Types of Coverage" on the left-hand navigation.