Yes, drivers must have car insurance to legally drive in the state of Pennsylvania. This is known a maintaining “financial responsibility.” A lapse in insurance coverage may result in the suspension of your vehicle registration for three months. I’ve had clients tell me that they changed insurance carriers, and later got a letter from the Pennsylvania Department of Motor vehicles threatening a three-month suspension unless they could prove there was no lapse in insurance OR if there was a lapse in insurance, it was not for more than 31 days AND they could prove that their car was not operated during the lapse in coverage.

A few years ago, I changed automobile insurance carriers because I found a much cheaper rate. I notified my old insurance company that I was canceling my policy and going to a new company. My new insurance policy went into effect on the same day that my old insurance policy stopped. Despite that, a few months later I got a letter from the Pennsylvania DMV threatening me with a suspension. Apparently my old insurance company told them I canceled my insurance, and the Pennsylvania DMV just assumed that I did not get new insurance. I had to send them proof that I was continually insured.

PRACTICAL TIP: If you get a letter from the Pennsylvania DMV, do not ignore it and do not think you can take care of it with just a phone call. Follow up by sending proof of what they want and make sure you have proof that you sent it (such as a certified letter or fax receipt). If you don’t follow up properly, your driver’s license and/or registration could be suspended, and you will have even more time, trouble, and expense to get them back.