Uninspected Insurance

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“This past spring, I was anxious to get out and ride and was lax in getting the New Hampshire inspection sticker. My bike is all stock, the tires have plenty of tread and everything is in good working order. If I were to get in an accident and damage the bike, could my insurance deny coverage because I didn’t have the inspection sticker? —Michael Poirier”

Laws differ from state to state, but I am not aware of any state or federal law which specifically allows an insurance company to deny insurance coverage on a vehicle that does not have a valid inspection sticker. Eleven states have no vehicle inspection at all. Some have smog testing and no safety inspection or safety inspection, but no smog testing. New Hampshire mandates a detailed inspection, including multiple mechanical and safety checks in addition to emissions testing.

In the absence of a specific statute, the primary source for determination of what insurance does or does not cover is the insurance policy language. It is important to review your own personal insurance policy. Insurance companies typically mail a copy of your insurance policy each year. I have not yet seen an insurance policy that contains an exclusion of, or exception for, a motorcycle that has not received an updated inspection. The insurance policy is a contract between you and the insurance company and is divided into sections, usually with subtitles to indicate which topics are covered. Within those topics, the policy will define what motorcycle or other vehicle is insured and what persons are covered by the insuring agreement. Equally significant, the insurance policy will specify what hazards or losses will be compensated through insurance.

The insurance policy will also define the circumstances when the insurance coverage will not cover you or the losses that arise from an incident or event. In most insurance policies, the things not covered are defined in a section titled “Exclusions” or “Exceptions.” If an item or loss fits the exclusion or exception definition, the insurance company will not pay for the loss unless there is a state or federal law that mandates the coverage and overrides the insurance contract language. If your insurance policy does not include language explicitly excluding coverage for your motorcycle when your inspection sticker is expired, all coverage otherwise listed in the policy should be in full force and effect, regardless of the expired inspection sticker.