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Proof of Car Insurance: What It Is and Why You Need It

What Is Proof of Car Insurance? 

Proof of car insurance provides documentation that you have current valid car insurance. You may need to provide this at any time, including when you purchase a new car, get into an auto accident, get pulled over, or renew your driver’s license. 

You want to ensure you have a valid registration, driver’s license, and proof of car insurance every time you get behind the wheel. Car insurance is required in most states, and each state will have a set of state minimum limits.

Car insurance will help to ensure that you and everyone else on the road are protected financially when an accident happens. Most states will require you to have auto insurance and have state minimum limits that you must meet. New Hampshire and Virginia are the only states that do not require insurance. In these two states, you must prove that you can financially pay for an accident. 

You could face a mountain of debt if you are found at fault in an accident. Beyond that, if you are caught driving without a license, there could be some devastating consequences, including:

  • Fines or traffic tickets
  • Jail time
  • Difficulty obtaining insurance in the future
  • Inability to purchase a vehicle

What Is On Your Proof of Insurance? 

Most insurance carriers will have specific information on your proof of insurance. Typically you will find:

  • Policyholder name and address: As the policyholder, your name and mailing address will be on your paperwork.
  • Insured vehicle information: The year, make, model, and Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) will also be listed. 
  • Insurance company information: The insurance company’s name will be found on your insurance verification.
  • Policy number: Each carrier will provide you with your own unique policy number, which is how the insurer identifies you and your policy.
  • Policy coverage details: Some insurance verification will even list coverage limits, though this is rare to see on an auto id card. 
  • Policy effective and expiration dates: Your policy term will be listed to ensure current coverage.

Forms of Proof of Insurance 

Your insurance company will provide several insurance verification documents for your records. In some cases, one might be more beneficial than the other. 

  • Physical or digital insurance card: The most common proof of insurance is an auto id card, which can be a physical or digital card. You should store this card in your glove box or your phone for easy access. You must have the most up-to-date version.
  • Temporary insurance card: Sometimes, if you purchase your insurance through an independent agent, they will provide you with a temporary card until the actual paper policy arrives. Keep this in your car until the policy comes, which will have a new one inside. 
  • Policy documents: You will receive a copy of your complete policy after purchase. 
  • Declarations page: The declaration page is the high-level overview of your coverage, including vehicle information, policy details, and coverage information. 
  • App-based proof of coverage: Many insurers have apps where you can pull up your insurance on your phone.
  • SR-22 form: An SR-22 form is usually needed by someone who has had a lot of violations or criminal history and needs to show they have the minimum coverage. 

When You May Need to Show Proof of Insurance 

There are many times when you may be asked to show your insurance. It is critical that you have it with you to have proof when needed. 

  • Traffic stops: The purpose of a traffic stop may be a traffic violation, suspicious activity, or a routine check by a law enforcement officer. An officer may request your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance during a traffic stop. 
  • After a collision with another vehicle: You’ll need to show proof if you are involved in a collision with another vehicle. You’ll exchange your name, contact information, and insurance information with the other driver. 
  • Vehicle registration or renewalWhen you go to the DMV to renew or apply for new registration, you must provide proof of insurance. Because most states require proof of coverage, they often will not allow you to register a vehicle without it. 
  • Vehicle inspections: Many states have laws about vehicle safety. Annual inspections ensure your vehicle is working properly, and you will need to provide proof of insurance to complete the inspection. 
  • Purchasing or leasing a new car: The dealership will require you to provide proof of insurance before purchasing or leasing a car. This ensures that you are following the state’s requirements by being insured. 

Your Options If You Are Insured, But Forgot Your Proof of Insurance 

You may be able to provide documentation late if you’re involved in an accident or a traffic stop where you don’t have insurance verification. If you are given a ticket, you can dispute it in court by having the proof with you then. Sometimes you can contact your insurer to email you a copy at the scene as well. 

Penalties For Not Having Proof of Insurance 

The consequences of being uninsured can be severe. At the very least, you will receive a ticket or citation for driving without insurance. You could even lose your license. Each state will have varying consequences, so driving with insurance paperwork is always best.

It is possible to face more severe consequences if you are cited for driving without insurance multiple times or are involved in accidents without coverage. You could face significant fines, license revocation, jail time, and even vehicle impoundment.

You may also have trouble obtaining future insurance. Insurance companies may consider you a high-risk driver if you were willing to drive without insurance or let it lapse. If you can find an insurer willing to insure you after being caught driving without insurance, you will likely pay a higher premium than before. 

How Do You Get Proof of Insurance? 

To get insurance verification, you must first have an insurance policy. Once you have agreed to purchase the coverage and made a down payment, the insurance provider will give you an auto id card. Typically, this will be sufficient proof of insurance. 

Once everything is processed, you will receive a copy of your policy, including a declaration page. In today’s digital world, receiving all of your policy documents right away is possible, but that may not always be the case. 

If you need another copy, simply contact your insurer. 

Can You Update Your Proof of Insurance? 

While you personally cannot update your proof of insurance, the insurer can. If you moved or changed vehicles, you will want to contact your insurer with this information. They will amend your policy and provide updated verification immediately. 

Putting It All Together 

You can obtain proof of insurance online, print it out, or show it on your phone using your car insurance app. A paper copy is typically mailed to you by the insurance company. You will need proof of insurance if you buy a car, get pulled over, or are in an accident. There is never a good reason to drive without insurance, and it is better to always have proof on you. This will avoid the severe consequences that come with driving uninsured.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you don’t have proof of auto insurance with you, you will still have an opportunity to show it later. Most of the time, you can pull up a digital copy on your phone. If not, get it and take it to your local police station or court if needed. 

Since you do not own the rental car, you have no financial responsibility and don’t need to insure it. However, you will be liable for damages due to the rental car agreement, so it is recommended that you have proof of insurance with you in case of an accident.

Each vehicle will have its own auto id card, so you should have separate proof of insurance. However, the policy’s declaration page will show all vehicles if they are insured on the same policy.

Find an auto insurance policy that meets your needs.

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Find an auto insurance policy that meets your needs.

Get a quote