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Does an Expired Driver’s License or an Expired Car Registration Affect Your Settlement for a Car Accident?

What if one of the parties involved in a car accident has expired driving credentials? Maybe their registration is out of date or their driver’s license has expired. Maybe they have expired dealership tags. Do these circumstances affect your ability to recover in the event of a car accident? If you are the victim in a car crash and have expired driving credentials, do not let that stop you from calling the police or seeking legal advice. Although you may be fined, that does not lessen the at-fault driver’s liability. If the at-fault driver had expired tags or an expired license, let us help you navigate your way through how that will affect you post collision. Sometimes, circumstances such as these make dealing with insurance more complicated, and you may need an attorney to ensure that you get the best outcome possible.

Having an expired driver’s license may affect your insurers willingness to fulfill your UIM coverage.

In Colorado, all drivers are required by law to have a policy that carries at minimum $25,000 in liability insurance for bodily injuries. It is important to note that the minimum may not cover all the damage you incur. That is why it is so important to have uninsured motorist/ underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage in your policy. Having a policy with UM/UIM coverage ensures that your policy will help compensate you for those damages in excess of the at fault driver’s policy.

However, every policy is different and yours might have a disclaimer that says they don’t have to pay-out your UM/UIM coverage under certain circumstances. It is possible that an insurer will use your expired license as justification for not fulfilling your UIM coverage or hindering your claim. In order to get auto insurance in the first place, a person must have a valid driver’s license. So, if your policy has language that an expired driver’s license absolves them of paying out UM/UIM, this could affect your coverage. Your insurer may or may not take extenuating circumstances into account, such as how long the license has been expired. Situations such as this one are when it can be helpful to have an attorney to consult with the insurance company on your behalf.

Failure to renew your license may result in your insurer refusing to cover claims that occur after they learn about your expired license and may result in their refusal to renew your policy in the future. It could also lead to your rates increasing.

If the at fault driver has an expired driver’s license but has insurance, their policy will cover the bodily injuries for the victim. But a policy holder with an expired driver’s license may not receive money for their own bodily injury and their rates will likely raise their premiums substantially.

What Happens When Your Car is Unregistered or the Registration Has Expired?

If you are the victim in a car accident and your tags are expired but you are up to date on your insurance premiums, your insurance policy will honor your policy.

A victim of a car collision with an unregistered driver does not gain any advantage from the fact that the car was unregistered because the victim is not worse off for lack of registration. But this really only matters if you are trying to go after the personal assets of the at-fault driver. Usually, people are able to resolve their disputes by and through their insurance companies and never pursue the personal assets of the at fault driver.

There are many reasons people let their registration expire. For many people, it’s hard getting time off from work to make it to the DMV. Perhaps they ordered specialty plates and it’s taking longer than expected for them to arrive. Or maybe they registered their car but the tags were sent to the wrong address. Mistakes happen and life gets busy. However, keep in mind that once the insurance company knows that your car is not registered, which they are likely to discover in the event of a collision, they may use that information in the future as justification to hike your rates up when it is time to renew the policy.

If the at fault driver has expired tags, it will not prevent you from receiving a settlement from their insurance company.

Often, the reason a driver has failed to register their car is that they are uninsured. In Colorado, you must have valid insurance in order to register the vehicle with the state. However, for those drivers that have insurance, but their car is unregistered, or their registration is expired, that will not affect your ability to recover from them if they are at fault for the accident. It will, however, potentially prevent them from receiving money from the insurance company for their own injuries and will likely affect their ability to get insurance going forward. And keep in mind that once the insurance company knows that your car is not registered, which they are likely to discover in the event of a collision, they may use that information in the future as justification to hike your rates up when it is time to renew the policy.

In conclusion, having expired driving credentials can complicate and hinder your ability to recover damages from an accident. It is in your best interest to keep those credentials up to date. However, failure to do so should never deter you from seeking help or pursuing your claim.

If you have other questions surrounding car insurance policies or accident-related topics, please check out our free e-books:

  • The Essential Guide to Car Insurance in Colorado
  • Cowards of the Street: Hit & Run
  • The Essential Guide to Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage
  • Distracted Driving and Your Injury Claim

A Colorado law firm that puts people first. Your case matters

We’re ready and eager to tackle whatever tough personal injury issue you’re dealing with in Denver and all of Colorado. Your case matters here.




Bell & Pollock, P.C.

7555 E Hampden Ave #200
Denver, CO 80231


(800) 559-5920

Steamboat Springs:

Bell & Pollock, P.C.
505 Anglers Dr #104
Steamboat Springs, CO 80487


(970) 870-8989

-By Appointment Only

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