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PA Vehicle Registration: A Little-Known Provision

We understand: Laws and codes can be quite boring and filled with confusing jargon. It’s all a part of the insurance world though and we’re here to help simplify things. In this blog post, we’re talking about a little-known PA vehicle registration provision: Owning a registered vehicle without insurance prevents the owner from being able to claim first-party benefits.

Let’s break this down.

PA Vehicle Registration Provision

Owning a registered vehicle without insuranceWhile you can drop the insurance on inoperable and seasonal vehicles, you must also remember to surrender your tag (license plate) to PennDOT. By failing to do so, section 1714 of the PA Motor Vehicle Code states that the owner is then unable to claim first party benefits in the event of an accident. First party benefits include medical and wage loss benefits. This provision even applies if the owner is in an insured vehicle when the accident occurs.

Vehicle examples include:

  • Totaled vehicles
  • Classic cars that are only driven during fair-weather months
  • Motorcycles
  • Motorhomes

The law’s actual intent? To ensure that “one may not receive medical and wage loss benefits unless they have the ability to provide them to another.”

And while we all like saving money, dropping insurance on an inoperable or seasonal vehicle is not always the best way to save (view our money-saving tips here).

What Does This Mean?

Simply put: It’s best to have your PA vehicle registration and insurance in order. Many PA residents may unwittingly put themselves at risk of losing their first-party benefits, even on their insured vehicles. For example:

Let’s say you’re the proud owner of a DeLorean. Whether or not this DeLorean flies and travels through time is besides the point. You really only like to drive this unique car in fair weather, even though its body is stainless steel. While it sits in the garage, you cancel your insurance on the DeLorean but leave the license plate on.

You’re driving your daily driver: a fully insured 1985 Toyota Hi-Lux pickup. Suddenly, you find yourself in an accident and end up with a back injury. This back injury prevents you from returning to work. Typically, you would be able to claim medical and wage loss benefits. But since you do not have your DeLorean insured, you are on the hook for your medical bills and lost wages.

The law has good intentions but may unintentionally harm those who innocently leave their tags on inoperable and seasonal vehicles.

Options to Maintain First Party Benefits

We cannot stress enough how important it is to have your PA vehicle registration in order. If you have been thinking of removing insurance from an inoperable or seasonal vehicle, here’s what you can do to maintain first party benefits:

Option 1:
Simply send your tags back to PennDOT immediately when removing insurance. To return the license plate, fill out form MV-141 and send it to Bureau of Motor Vehicles, Return Tag Unit, P.O. Box 68597, Harrisburg, PA 17106-8597. Form MV-141 will be stamped by PennDOT upon receipt and returned to the sender, thus evidencing receipt.

For a fee, you may also return the tag directly to any PennDOT agent.

Option 2: You can maintain insurance on the vehicle. If your goal is saving money, contact our agents. They can help you find more affordable coverage or help you find ways to save on your current policy.

Option 3: With proper qualifications, you can apply for a seasonal registration from PennDOT, thus allowing you to drop financial responsibility during the off-season. Keep in mind, seasonal registration is mostly applicable to RVs, motorcycles, and lighter trucks or farm vehicles. The DeLorean example above would NOT qualify.

A Reminder about PA Vehicle Registration

If you have been thinking about dropping insurance on your vehicle, please follow one of the options listed above. These options will ensure you are not giving up your medical and wage loss benefits. If you’re looking to save money, contact our helpful agents. We promise to offer a better insurance experience and do our best to find a policy that fits you and your budget. You can reach out to us by clicking below for a quote.

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