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The Secretary of State And The Seasonal Vehicle

Edited 11/16/16:  The legislature has approved language requiring the Secretary of State to waive the $10 late fee if a plate is renewed late because the vehicle was in storage.  The legislation is linked here – the pertinent section is on page 6 section 4.a.  It’s important to note when renewing tabs, you still have to have Michigan No-fault coverage on the vehicle, (so Comprehensive only doesn’t cover it) this just allows you to renew your tabs late without paying a penalty if your vehicle was in storage.

Have you renewed your plates yet for 2015/2016? Do you have a vehicle that you “store” during the winter months (or summer for that matter)? If you have a vehicle where the registration renewal typically falls during the time you have your vehicle stored, you may want to renew that registration before you put the car “to bed” for the winter and here is the reason why.

We’ve started seeing a few letters like this.  Have you seen this letter?


SOS photo

The Michigan Department of State is cancelling the above-referenced plate/registration effective 20 days from the date of this letter in accordance with Michigan law (MCL.257.258).  The reason for cancellation is listed below: 


This is what’s happening:  Every two weeks, insurance companies are sending huge electronic files to the Secretary of State showing every vehicle they are insuring with Michigan No-Fault coverage (liability, medical etc).  These are the vehicles that are carrying the legally required coverage to drive on the roads.  The law states that when you renew your plate, you MUST have these coverages on your policy.  The Secretary of State is accepting your proof of insurance that you provide at renewal, but they’re also double checking it against the electronic records they receive.  If your vehicle has comprehensive only at the time of the plate renewal, it’s not going to show up on the list. They’re a few months behind on this, so the letters that we’ve seen have been sent 2-3 months after the plate was renewed.

The difficulty: We have a lot of summer cars and a lot of winter cars around here.  Most people put those cars in “storage” for the winter, which in essence means removing the Michigan No-Fault coverage and keeping just Comprehensive coverage.  Vehicles with just Comprehensive coverage are not legally covered to drive, therefore when a plate is renewed while a vehicle is in storage, technically the law was not followed.  And …. the letter gets sent out.

The solution: You have a few options.

1. The Secretary of State has advised that you can renew your plate up to 6 months in advance.  Our suggestion – if you have a renewal date while the vehicle is stored, renew your plate prior to storing the vehicle.

2. You can renew your plate after the vehicle is out of storage (late) and pay the $10 late registration penalty. Edited 11/16 /16 – the late fee can be waived if you provide proof the vehicle was in storage at the time the renewal was supposed to occur.

3. We can reinstate coverage on your vehicle on your policy for the period of time needed to get the plate renewed.  This will incur insurance charges even though you’re not actually driving the car. Which is a bummer – so we are recommending option #1 – or #2, but it’s kind of tough to advocate for renewing late :).