License To Get Frustrated

, , , , , , , | Working | June 30, 2020

About a year and half ago, I moved from Florida to Pennsylvania for graduate school. Since I was moving as a student, it wasn’t necessary for me to go through all the steps to change my residency, such as updating my driver’s license or vehicle registration.

It is now time for me to renew my Florida vehicle registration. I am technically a resident of Florida, but I receive an email saying that my registration has been denied due to my car insurance being for Pennsylvania. I didn’t have this issue last year, even though my circumstances haven’t changed. I call my insurance company to figure out what is going on and what my next steps should be. 

Insurance Agent: “Well, since you are located for most of the year in Pennsylvania, you should probably register your car there.”

Me: “Okay, but I am not a Pennsylvania resident. I don’t think I’m allowed to register my car here without changing my residency, and I would rather not do that. I’m probably not staying here after I graduate.”

Insurance Agent: “That’s fine! Because you are a student, that allows you to register your car in Pennsylvania, even without a Pennsylvania license.”

Me: “Okay, thank you! I will look into that.”

As I am still not certain this is correct, I call the Pennsylvania DMV.

Me: “Hi, I’m a student and Florida resident. However, my insurance company said I could register my car in Pennsylvania regardless?”

DMV Representative: “No, you need a Pennsylvania license. If you don’t have one, you can’t register your car here.”

Me: “That’s what I thought. I’ll call my insurance agency back. Thank you!”

After explaining this entire situation again on the phone:

Insurance Agent #2: “Okay, I can absolutely change your policy to a Florida one. That’s strange that it changed.”

Me: “Great, thank you! I didn’t make any changes in the last year, so I’m not sure how that happened.”

I spend a good deal of time on hold, while the agent begins to change everything over.

Insurance Agent #2: “So, there are actually notes from a different phone call saying that you are a full-time Pennsylvania resident.”

Me: “But I’m not. I’m a student and only here temporarily.”

Insurance Agent #2: “Well, because of the notes, I’m not allowed to change your policy.”

Me: “So, I’m not a Pennsylvania resident, so I can’t register my car in Pennsylvania, but I can’t fix my insurance policy to register my car in Florida? Even though I never changed my policy to a Pennsylvania policy in the first place?”

Insurance Agent #2: “That’s correct.”

Me: “My registration expires in a week. The Pennsylvania DMVs are all closed due to the pandemic. I don’t want to drive an unregistered vehicle and potentially get in trouble. What should I do?”

Insurance Agent #2: “You should keep the records of these phone calls and go once everything is reopened. You might be able to do it all online.”

Spoiler alert: you can’t.

Me: “So, despite the fact that I’m a student and not a full-time Pennsylvania resident, I have to change my residency? And despite that I was able to renew my registration last year when I was in the exact same situation?”

Insurance Agent #2: “That’s correct.”

Me: “Well, thank you. I guess I’ll try to get that done soon.”

While this is all comically inconvenient, it isn’t the worst thing. The biggest kicker is that Florida driver’s licenses are good for eight years, and I finally had to renew mine this year. And now I’ll have to pay to have a new one issued for a new state.

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