3 Ways to Obtain Proof of Insurance


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Written by
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Reviewed by
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UPDATED: 2021-09-07T20:45:03.246Z
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Got a car and a driver's license?

You may think you’re ready to hit the road, but if you don’t have proof of insurance — or insurance at all — you’ll need to obtain this first to drive legally.

The process is pretty straightforward. Once you obtain insurance, your insurance company will likely mail you proof of insurance documents. Proof of insurance documents are just as they sound: they prove that you have legal, active car insurance. You can stow these documents away in a car’s glove compartment for easy and constant access until needed.

Proof of car insurance doesn’t always have to be in the form of physical documents, however. It can also be digital.

Regardless of form, if you ever find yourself in an automobile accident or pulled over by law enforcement officers, you’ll want to have your proof of insurance on hand to avoid further stress.

If you need to buy car insurance, you can use our free car insurance comparison tool. Enter your ZIP code and find the best car insurance options for you.

Why do you need proof of insurance?

While laws vary from state to state, most states require that drivers have insurance. Carrying your proof of insurance with you whenever you’re on the road proves to law enforcement officers that you are complying with the legal requirements to drive. Most states will also require you to have obtained your proof of insurance to register your vehicle.

You should also always carry your vehicle registration documents and driver’s license in your vehicle when driving.

What specific information does proof of insurance include?

Proof of insurance documents provides relevant details about you and your vehicle’s policy to authorities. Proof of insurance often takes the shape of an auto insurance card, which provides this information in a compact and easily accessible manner.

The information you will find on this card includes:

  • The insurance policy number – This is a unique number that identifies your specific insurance policy and account.
  • The start date and expiration date of the policy – It’s vital that your policy is active and not expired. Pay attention to when your policy’s renewal date is, so you don’t find yourself having to drive with an expired policy in a pinch.
  • The insured individual’s name and address – You may have multiple people in your family or household sharing a vehicle. In this case, you will all share one insurance card for the car (this is also another reason to keep it in the glove box rather than in your wallet). If you are not the policy owner, make sure you are not excluded from it before you get behind the wheel.
  • The insured vehicle’s make, model, and year – The make is the car’s brand, and the model is the exact product from that brand. The year denotes when the car was made. These factors can influence insurance policies that will be applied to the vehicle.
  • The insurance company’s name and address – This will tell authorities which company provides your insurance. In some cases where proof of insurance is required, the insurance company may need to be contacted.

How much insurance do I need?

Laws regulating the minimum amount of insurance required for all drivers vary from state to state. Drivers can also purchase additional insurance at their discretion.

For example, Connecticut’s Insurance Department(CID) outlines the baselines that drivers are required to have in the state:

  • Bodily injury liability – Minimum of $25,000 in coverage per person per accident, with $50,000 in coverage per accident total.
  • Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage – Minimum of $25,000 in coverage per person, with $50,000 per accident total.

Additionally, they specify that drivers are encouraged to consider higher coverage amounts, as these baselines can be exceeded should medical bills and expensive repair costs ensue.

Some scenarios that may require proof of insurance

You want to have your proof of insurance on hand whenever you hit the road. Some situations that will require you to provide proof of insurance include:

  • In the event of an automobile accident
  • When registering a vehicle
  • If you get pulled over (for violations such as speeding, illegal turns, and more)

While nobody plans on an accident or other incident happening, it’s always important to be prepared. Carrying your proof of insurance with you at all times while you drive has the potential to save you a lot of trouble down the line.

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How to Obtain Proof of Insurance

Now that you understand what proof of insurance is and when you’ll need it, it’s important to learn how to obtain it. Most states allow various options for showing proof of insurance to make this process easier and more accessible for their large and varied populations of drivers.

Method 1: Proof of Insurance Card

Once you buy an insurance policy, your insurance company can mail you a proof of insurance card. While not the only option, this is a common way that many drivers obtain proof of insurance.

Your insurance company also has the option of mailing you a couple of other documents that can act as proof of insurance instead of a card. These documents include:

  • Proof of coverage letter – This is a letter from your insurance company that proves that they insure you and includes details about your coverage similar to an insurance card. It can be mailed to you by your insurance company after you choose a policy.
  • SR-22 filing – If you have gotten in trouble behind the wheel, such as an accident or DUI charge, your insurance company may deem you a high-risk driver. In this case, you are legally required to file for SR-22 insurance coverage. You can use proof of your SR-22 filing as proof of insurance.

Method 2: Print Your Proof of Insurance

Don’t want to wait for your forms or insurance card in the mail? Check with your insurance company to see if you can print your insurance forms at home. This is a fast and cost-effective way to obtain proof of insurance, and many insurance companies now allow their customers to do it.

Method 3: Proof of Insurance Through a Phone App

The world we live in is increasingly digital, and our devices are becoming more and more entangled with our daily lives. Therefore, it makes sense that many drivers will want to show proof of insurance digitally.

Many people find it easier to have all of their essential documents consolidated in one device, such as a smartphone, rather than have to carry many different documents with them at all times. If being able to show digital proof of insurance is important to you, you may want to look into insurance companies with well-functioning phone apps that will allow you to do so.

Showing proof of insurance through a phone app may also decrease the likelihood of drivers not having proof of insurance on them at the time of an accident and sharing it with the Department of Motor Vehicles later.

New Mexico is the only state that does not allow drivers to show digital proof of insurance. If you find yourself driving in New Mexico, be sure to have an alternative method of proof of insurance on hand.

What happens if I can’t provide proof of insurance?

You should think of carrying your proof of insurance as integral to a successful car trip as having enough gas in your car’s tank. Don’t hit the road without it. If you do, you may face additional costs and troubles.

If You Have Insurance, But No Proof of Insurance

Not only do you have to have insurance, but you have to be able to prove it in the event of an accident or police stop. Say you get pulled over, and a highway patrol officer asks for your proof of insurance. You reach in your glove box, but you realize that pesky proof of insurance card is missing — maybe you misplaced it while cleaning out your car.

It happens to the best of us, and while you should always try to have your proof of insurance, it’s not the end of the world.

As long as you actually are insured.

The punishment for insured drivers who are unable to provide proof of insurance is usually a small fine. You will likely be given a timeframe within which you have to provide your proof of insurance to the authorities.

The rules vary depending on what state you are in, but regardless, time is of the essence. If you can provide proof of insurance promptly, you can potentially avoid paying a fine altogether.

If You Are Not Insured

It is illegal to drive without insurance, but what is the penalty for driving without insurance?

If you are caught driving without insurance — even if you were once covered and your coverage has expired — you will face different consequences in different states, and will likely have your license revoked by the Department of Motor Vehicles.

For example, according to the state of New York’s Department of Motor Vehicles(DMV), if you do not maintain active insurance coverage, “the DMV can suspend your vehicle registration and your driver's license.”

You may think you can get by without proof of insurance, but you should also always have your vehicle registration and driver’s license when you’re behind the wheel. If you’re missing these two other crucial documents when you drive, you’ll be risking much more severe consequences.

How We Can Help With Proof of Insurance

You’ve got places to be, and you want to safely and legally get on the road as soon as possible, right?

Well, we’re here to help.

The more options and information you have when choosing your insurance, the more informed you’ll be. With our extensive published content and vast network of brand partners, we’re here to connect people with the insurance company that’s right for them.

You can use our free car insurance quote comparison tool to help you find the best insurance for you. Enter your ZIP code in our tool to get started.

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