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How to verify proof of car insurance

You’ll need to prove you have insurance with you when you get behind the wheel.

Updated

You might be asked to verify car insurance during a police stop or after a car accident. But some states are moving to more detailed insurance checks. You can present either your insurance card or several other documents as proof of car insurance.

How do I verify proof of auto insurance?

Every driver should keep proof of car insurance on hand while driving. You can prove your auto insurance coverage in a few ways:

  • Insurance card. Many insurance companies send you a plastic or paper card as official proof of your car insurance.
  • Policy declarations page. Your declarations page will list important information like the insurance company, policy number and effective date. You might need this document before driving off the lot to prove insurance after buying or leasing a car.
  • Rental agreement. If you’re required to show proof for a rental car, your rental agreement should suffice.
  • Mobile proof of insurance. Most states allow drivers to show insurance documents on their phone. Companies may let you access proof of insurance through a mobile app.

How does my state verify each driver’s auto insurance?

State or DMV officials in most states find out which drivers don’t have proper insurance in several ways. A police officer might ask for proof of insurance while stopping you for another reason. In addition, your insurance company is required to report your lapsed or canceled coverage to the DMV or appropriate state department.

A few states like Texas, Ohio and Oklahoma have created a driver database or random insurance checks that monitor uninsured drivers. With a database system, officials can see which drivers don’t have insurance and send out reminders to stay insured. During insurance checks, officials might mail letters requesting proof of car insurance at random.

When would I need to prove I have car insurance?

You won’t have to prove car insurance every time you’re on the road. But most states require you to keep proof available for situations like these:

  • Registering for a license plate or to renew the tags on your vehicle
  • Going to the DMV
  • Driving off a car lot after buying or leasing a car
  • Getting pulled over by police for another reason, like speeding
  • Filing an insurance claim after a car accident

How will I be notified I need to prove I have insurance?

If you need to prove your car insurance coverage, you should receive an official notice by mail, typically from the DMV or state department of transportation. The notice should give you a time frame or due date to provide proof, and directions on how to send back your proof of insurance. You may also get a warning or citation from a police officer, requiring you to mail in proof or show up in court.

How do I know it’s not an insurance scam?

A few warning signs may suggest an insurance fraud attempt rather than an official government request. These can include:

  • Requesting immediate payment to a non-government website.
  • Requesting unrelated personal information, such as your Social Security number.
  • Threatening consequences that don’t match your state’s laws.
  • A text or voicemail on your phone, especially an incomplete or threatening message.

I’m uninsured. What should I do now?

If you know your insurance has lapsed, you can either wait for a notification letter or contact your DMV or department of transportation. You can follow these guidelines for making amends:

  1. Purchase a new car insurance policy. You can expect a steep premium or denied coverage with certain companies.
  2. Contact the state or motor vehicle department about your insurance lapse.
    Pay any penalties for driving without insurance.
  3. If required, file an SR-22 with your state as proof of insurance. Some insurance companies submit this document for you.
  4. Pay fees to reinstate your license or registration. Penalties can increase if you don’t pay within a specified time period.

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Bottom line

Although states differ on checking for car insurance, you’ll likely have to prove you have insurance at some point. Make sure you have the proper car insurance coverage and proof that you’re insured before getting on the road.

Common questions about verifying auto insurance

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